The history of Bergvliet and Meadowridge are linked back to 1685 when Governor Simon van der Stel was granted a farm and grazing rights on a vast estate he called Constantia. Van der Stel died in 1712 and four years later, in 1716, the executors of the estate divided the property into two portions – Constantia and Bergvliet.
Between 1716 and 1769 several different persons held title to Bergvliet, but in 1769 Petrus Eksteen acquired the farm and it was he who erected the Bergvliet homestead in the vicinity of the perennial spring, Die Oog. In 1989 the homestead, Bergvliet Manor House, was proclaimed a National Monument, and today in 2011, it has been declared a Provincial Heritage Site, Grade II.
In 1865 the estate was bought by William Hertzog and upon his death in 1902 the estate passed to his sisters, Mrs S Purcell and Mrs A Jeffcoat. Dr Purcell, son of Mrs S Purcell, managed the estate on behalf of his mother and aunt between 1902 and 1919 during which period he began to survey the flora of Bergvliet. It appears that at the time the estate was in fact made up of several farms: Bergvliet, Kreupelbosch and Longueville.
Following the death of Dr Purcell in 1919, the Reverend W Jeffcoat assumed stewardship of the farm on behalf of the family. In about 1930 the farm was divided again, the Jeffcoats acquiring Bergvliet and the upper or northern portion of Kreupelbosch going to the Purcell descendents. This marked the end of the rural phase in the history of the estate.
In 1945 the Divisional Council of the Cape purchased Bergvliet for the purpose of providing a housing estate for ex-servicemen in accordance with the wishes of the Rev Jeffcoat. Also in the 1940’s, the Sonnenhof Farm, just north of the Bergvliet Manor House, was subdivided off from Bergvliet and residential subdivisions, with large buffer gardens, were sold individually. The subdivision process has continued since then.
Dreyersdal Farm is also historically linked to the development of Bergvliet. It appears that the farm was linked to the adjacent Bergvliet Farm when in the ownership of Eksteen. The original farm buildings may have been constructed in the late 1790’s with later and larger extensions to the farmstead complex. The Longhouse or barn forms the eastern boundary of the homestead complex and is now zoned to permit an educational institution. The farm remains an agricultural remnant and a fine ensemble of buildings and landscapes relating to agricultural/historical endeavors. Although the buildings and farm have not been given formal heritage site status they are protected by the National Heritage Resources Act.
A large portion of the farm comprises wetland. The southern portion of Louw’s Vlei, along the Main Road, was rezoned in 1996 for the construction of a shopping centre and residential units and an agreement was reached with the local authority in respect of work to control the flooding of the Keysers River catchment area and in terms of this agreement, the wetland upstream of the shopping center and behind the homestead to the M3, is to become a private nature reserve with no access to the general public.
Meadowridge Common is a remnant of Bergvliet Farm and although surrounded by urban development, it is a significant green space occupying a relatively small area. Although much of the Common is covered by Pine trees, it is perhaps the most significant remnant of Sand Plain Fynbos vegetation in the Cape Peninsula. In 1996 120 indigenous vascular floral species had been identified and cross-checked with the herbarium specimens collected by Dr William Purcell, manager of the Bergvliet farm from 1902 to 1919, of which 595 species were recorded in the greater area of the Bergvliet Farm. The latter species are preserved in the Compton Herbarium at Kirstenbosch and represent 26.4% of the Cape Peninsula flora.
Meadowridge – the second Garden City
Mr Richard Stuttaford’s concern for housing and health led him to the ideas of Ebenezer Howard and his Garden City concept in England. In 1919 he wrote to the Union Government that he would be prepared to finance better housing accommodation. The House of Assembly approved the formation of the Garden City Trust and donated some 400 hectares of land which resulted in the development of Pinelands as the country’s first formal town planning scheme. Thereafter the Garden Cities Trust searched to establish a second Garden City and in 1948 in conjunction with the Divisional Council of the Cape, a 120 morgen portion of the farm Kreupelbosch was acquired in 1950. The purchase of the site, later named Meadowridge, was financed by a 30-year loan granted by the National Housing Office. Work commenced in 1954 and by 1969, 600 units had been constructed and sold. The development included the establishment of civic facilities and sports facilities located on public open space in the centre of the development, a portion of which is now the Meadowridge Common. In 1958 the central shopping centre was established.
Central to the planning concepts of a Garden City were the separation of work and residence; the incorporation of green belts to enforce this separation; the prominent central features of a village green and hall, and the separation of movement of pedestrians and vehicles. The use of radial roads, cul-de-sacs and grouping of inwardly focused houses are all typical of the physical articulation of these concepts. In Meadowridge, the design of the road layout separating pedestrian from vehicle, the wide tree-lined and grassed verges, the location of schools, shops and other communal facilities are all indicative of the Garden City principles which are enshrined in restrictive Title Deed Conditions. Home Industries and sub-divisions were expressly precluded.