Thursday, 19 July 2012

Old Bakery Building

Old Bakery (Albany Road)

The Old Bakery Building in Albany Road as it is Today
In the early 1900s Grahamstown was booming with business. One of the strong businesses in the area was General stores and bakeries. The reason why these types of businesses were booming is because of the demand of what they had to offer the communities. The need for food, and bread ensured a regular income for these businesses.
Grahamstown had quite a few bakeries during these times. Legend has it that since the time Jan Van Riebeeck occupied a property here in Grahamstown, bakeries were a needed service in the area. It is believed that even the famous Dutchman also baked bread in this town. Some of the known bakeries in the area include Dick’s Bakery and Paulo’s Bakery, to name just two. In the written history of the Grahamstown we have not anything documented about one bakery. This bakery is arguably the oldest bakery in Grahamstown, and there is no information we could find in relation to the bakery other than our source Bruce Evan. Bruce has been living at the premises where the bakery was since 1958.

Bruce Evans and Family

Bruce Evans, the last child in a house of seven children was born in 1957. His parents were very religious and strict. He spent most of time while growing up with his mother. He did not go out a lot to socialise with his peers. The only time he would visit people would be either to church or his aunt in
Trotter Street
. The Evans family moved to number 62 Albany Road (Old Bakery) on the 1st of April 1958, Bruce was only 8 months old at that time. His close relationship with his mother is the main reason he knows about their history prior the move to
Albany Road
. He recalls during one of the interviews that his mother would tell him stories about the life they lived before he was born. Out of the six siblings, four still survive.

The Evans Family; Bruce Evans is standing in the middle of his Father and Mother

The Old Bakery

Although there is no information on the Bakery itself, we managed to get some information on the building and the role it played in the Coloured community. The building was owned by at least three parties before 1948 till the Evans family bought the property from the Albany Perfection Bakery (Proprietary) Limited in 1958. According to the Deed of Transfer supplied Bruce Evans, in 1948, on the 2nd of October, Arthur Eli Abrahams a qualified Conveyancer on behalf of the Albany Perfection Bakery bought the property from Athol Gerald Green (presumed the owner). For the next ten years we had no information on the running and dealings of the Bakery. On the 15th of February 1958 Leonides Basil Michealides, the Director of Albany Perfection Bakery (Proprietary) Limited, on behalf of the company sold the property to William Joseph Evans for Nine Hundred Pounds (£900) following resolution of a Board of Directors’ meeting held earlier here in Grahamstown. The reason(s) the company decides to sell their property are unknown to us, we can speculate whether it was because of financial reasons or the owners of the company decided to move away from Grahamstown.

Above: Three Deed of Transfers showing change of ownership of the property these Deeds of Transfer dates back to the 1940s to the 1960s. They were provided by Bruce Evans.

The Role of the Old Bakery Building
The Rudeless Gym sign. The building was once used as a
gym by community youth.
Without information on the Bakery itself the next question will be what history the building can tell. Many people in the Coloured community testify to the role and assistance the building has given this community. As Bruce and many others recall, the building had served the community in many difficult times. For Bruce and his Family, they remember when his sister’s daughter had her wedding reception there. It must have been a happy day for the family since their investment had made a special day for the family very special.
The building was used for various purposes. At some point it was used by three local schools to run their classes there. The first school that used the building was Grahamstown Primary School (then known as Higher Mission School), than it was Mary Waters High School during this time the current building of the school was not yet born. George Dickerson also had classes held in the Old Bakery Building.
Other community events were hosted in this building as-well. According to Bruce and other sources, the building also hosted church services for different churches from the community. Bruce remembers that the Union Church also had their services hosted at the building. One of the most recent event or group to be hosted at the building was a Gym. The Rudeless Gym started to have Gym sessions in the building on the 25th of January 1999. According to Bruce this Gym lasted for roughly 3-4 years.

It is undeniable that the building had served the community. From the time it was a bakery, selling bread to the community, to weddings and school classes, the building has really assisted the community. This building was there when the people of this community had nowhere else to go and provided its shelter to them. Whether it was for entertainment, education, faith and religion or simply a Gym, it had really “stood” by the people of the Coloured community. It is sad to see such a historic building being in the state it is now. This is a precious space that had stood the test of time and given the people of its community hope in times of despair. Community leader and the community as a whole owe this building a lot. It does not deserve the repayment it gets. This place has a history to tell the future generation and it should be preserved.

By: Sinethemba Yame

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