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The Sale of Norscot

   

As time progressed it was becoming more and more difficult to maintain the Norscot estate and the loyal staff were reaching retirement age.

Ethel survived her husband by fourteen years and passed away at the age of eighty-four years in 1978. It was then that Joyce, now with the married name of Van Wyk, decided to sell the property. One of the staff at the house, Phillip Moyo, had been with the family for forty-five, beginning in 1937, years before returning to Zimbabwe.

Philip’s father had been a Matabele Chief, “with eleven wives”, in Plumtree and members of his extended family had over the years also worked at Norscot. Second mentioned, in terms of longstanding service, is that of George Zikhali with forty-one years commencing in 1940. George was the “Second Cook” and in charge of laundry.

The sale of Norscot Manor was quite the event in Johannesburg in 1982. With viewing between 5 – 7 February, the auction commanded three days from 8 – 10 February and attracted over three-thousand-three-hundred people where over three thousand pieces were for up for sale.

It was described as “the largest house sale so far in the Southern Hemisphere” and the “rich and famous” of South Africa were well represented, among them Chiavelli, Gary Player and Barbra Barnard.

Many spectacular items were on sale including four Anton van Wouw bronzes, three early Nineteenth Century views of Table Bay, two Frans Oerders, the maquette for John Tweed’s statue of Cecil John Rhodes and a rare Pieter Wenning still life. Tweed’s maquette had previously belonged to Sir Abe Bailey and Sir Lionel Phillips had previously owned one of the armoires that had been brought up from the Vergelegen estate. Reminiscent of Ernst himself, there was on sale a rare 1964 Lincoln Continental 4-door convertible, which had been specifically imported for the family. Joyce retained some of items of sentimental value.

The original farm that had stretched as far as todays Fourways Crossing Centre was subdivided and Joyce retained a small portion for her.

Much of the land put up for sale was purchased by the developers Schachat Cullum and become the suburb of Norscot today. The house, with 11 hectares was sold to the Sandton Town Council, following “representations from many local organisations and ratepayers”.

The Fourways Ratepayers Association was strong in their encouragement to the Council and a petition was arranged by the now defunct Sandton Historical Association (SHA) asking for the property to be purchased for “Sandton’s future benefit”.

During the time that the house stood empty awaiting its sale, and under the auspices of the Mayor Peter Bennett and his wife, a “fine display of Sandton’s art treasures had been given for a week when there were also mayoral receptions and musical evenings”.  SHA also mounted an exhibition at the time and it was this use of Norscot that prompted  “much demand for the purchase of the house for civic purposes”.

The Sandton Foundation was also “instrumental in urging the Council to purchase” and “negotiate a feasible price”.

 

Norscot today

Norscot Manor has operated as a Recreation Centre since the 1980’s. Alderman Peter Bennett [may] be considered the founder of the Recreation Centre.” During his term as Mayor of Sandton, he was the “driving force within Council…

to acquire Norscot Manor” and served on it managing committee for a period of ten years. 

 

Norscot Manor Recreation Centre

 

With the ceasing of Sandton as an independent Council and ‘ceding’ to the City of Johannesburg, Norscot is now considered one of, if not the, premier “jewel” amongst in the City’s recreational centres.

The “Friends of Norscot” (FON) was formed following a Community meeting in September 2013 arranged by Councilor Chris Santana after the alleged threat to sell Norscot Manor. The Friends work together to (1) Maintain the Recreation Centre and grow it into a stronger facility (2) to Promote the use of the Centre and (3) to Preserve its heritage. 

Councilor Chris Santana with the Friends of Norscot Committee (NPO #132-616) facilitated the City of Johannesburg’s recognition of Norscot Manor Recreation Centre as a “city owned heritage site” and duly placed on the City of Johannesburg’s register, garnering a Blue Plaque.

 

Blue Plaque puts Norscot Manor on the Heritage Map

 

Norscot Manor houses the Recreation Centre as well as the Library.

The Mission statement of Norscot Manor Recreation Centre is:

To provide valued Cultural, Recreational and Leisure services to enhance the quality of life for all 

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