WORDS: ZAMANDULO MALONDE | IMAGES: WERNER HILLS & GOOGLE MAPS
Uitenhage was established as a farming community on the banks of the Swartkops River in 1804. The town is named in honour of the then Cape commissioner-general Jacob Uitenhage de Mist, who put forward proposals meant to improve colonial administrations of regions of the Cape, which resulted in the establishment of the town.
Although it maintains some of its 19th century Dutch settler and Victorian architecture, the town has over time evolved into a denser and family-friendly neighbourhood.
“Uitenhage is a quiet town, and everything is within close proximity. I like the fact that nothing is rushed, we have no peak hour traffic issues and community members still care for one another,” says Penford resident Roshaan Pather.
Given its quiet nature, Roshaan reckons the town offers suitable homes for established families, matured and senior citizens to settle in. Roshaan has been a Uitenhage resident for more than 25 years.
Property prices in Uitenhage range between R400,000 and R1,8m depending on its size and location. The lower prices are for older areas like Uitenhage Central, around town and towards the factories.
Average middle-class homes range from R650,000 to R850,000, while you’ll pay up to R1,8m in upmarket areas like Vanes Estate and Winterhoek Park. Townhouse complexes are increasingly popular, and agents agree Uitenhage could do with more of these.
The Uitenhage community has a number of foundation-phase, intermediate and senior schools, some of which have been in the game for decades. Strelitzia High School is in Daniel Pienaar Street, Fairbridge Heights and has been around for over 50 years. The school is double-medium. Muir College Boys’ High School is among the oldest boys’ high schools in South Africa. The public, English-medium school, admitting pupils from Grade 4 to 12, is in Orr Street, Vanes Estate.
Partly due to its rich history, Uitenhage boasts its fair share of tourist attractions, also to be enjoyed by locals. The Willow Dam, a short drive from town, is an ideal space for family picnics and markets. This is where visitors enjoy picking up bargains at the monthly Uitenhage Market.
Next to Volkswagen SA’s entrance in Algoa Road is the popular AutoPavilion – the only automobile discovery centre in Africa and the ﬁfth in the world. The museum exhibits the evolution of the VW brand from the very ﬁrst Beetle to the contemporary passenger and sports cars of today.
For a lesson in history, the Langa Massacre Memorial Site on Maduna Road between Uitenhage and Langa Township is a commemoration of the 1985 massacre which took place on the 25th anniversary of the Sharpville massacre.
The historic town offers a range of outdoor fun and activities for different age groups, especially with the recently refreshed Magennis Park, suitable for family picnics and kiddies’ fun activities. Alternatively, kids and adults can make use of the open-air gym that was opened in the past year, not far from Willow Dam.
“My wife and I like to go mountain biking up Hillwaght Road where a lot of other community members also go for mountain biking. Otherwise we cycle to Sunlands on the gravel road,” Armand says.
As it’s a small town, shopping centres and restaurants are within close proximity in Uitenhage. This includes the Wild Rapids Spur Steak Ranch at the corner of Caledon Street and Queen Mary Crescent in Cannon Hill, the Chit Chat Coffee Shop in Graaff-Reinet Road and Thai Asian Food and Noodle Café in Caledon Street in Upper Central Uitenhage.
“The Chit Chat coffee shop is my favourite place to eat. I love to be there mainly because they play gospel music,” says businessman Armand du Preez who has been a Uitenhage resident for more than 30 years.
The Leyvale SuperSpar and the Pick n Pay Penford shopping complexes serve as convenient centres for all-round shopping – from groceries and clothing to pharmaceutical needs. The Pick n Pay mall is, however, more popular and convenient as it includes a Wimpy outlet in case one needs to ﬁll up while shopping.
“What I love most about Uitenhage is its people who have a welcoming spirit. Although my family and I have homes in other cities, from a very young age when I used to visit Uitenhage, I’ve always wanted to stay here.” ARMAND DU PREEZ, RESIDENT