Village life in Parkhurst

Today I am writing this blog from the airport’s departure lounge. Nearly time to start our trip to France. Yippee! I can already see myself meandering through beautiful, small Luberon villages with my husband, taking a million photos (thank you for digital cameras!) and probably over-eating more often than what is good for me. I will bombard you with photos and stories when I return….

In the meantime to tie you over in case you miss me :-), I’ve decided to share with you my favourite places in another “Parks” village, this time Parkhurst.

You just have to love the history of Parkhurst. It all started when a New York insurance salesman, a Mr Schlesinger, moved to SA and founded the African Realty Trust just after the Anglo-Boer War. His company started buying up small parcels of farmland in Johannesburg and developing them into residential suburbs, including this remote portion of the Braamfontein farm. He started developing the land into 2200 small stands (all about 485 m2) and sold them for £100 each. Then, and this is where the story becomes really interesting, he launched a naming competition to publicise the new suburb.

Until they had a winner, the temporary name "New Parktown" was given to the suburb. With prize money of £100 for the winning entry, it comes as no surprise that they received 11 823 entries from all over the country. Only problem is that 49 people suggested "Parkhurst" and they had to equally divide the prize money! ! To see the list of some of the other names submitted or to read more about this history, click here.

Today, Parkhurst is a lovely neighbourhood with a proper village feel. There is a very active residents' association and it is the kind of urban community where neighbours know each other. If you follow the current news story about the controversial parking scheme (you can view the Carte Blanche story here), you will know about this community spirit. Villagers came out in force to demonstrate against it and business windows are decorated with various yellow posters to protest.

You have to admire the spirit of public ‘participation’ that this parking scheme has brought to the fore, but walking down 4th avenue I get the distinct impression that Parkhurst, its charm and its vibe is stronger than the bureaucrats, and that for us it will remain an awesome place to visit – even if we have to walk half a block or so from our car to the shops! :-)

Image credits: All photography by me