Professional language services. Writing and content development.

I started my working career as a journalist and did the usual tour of duty working for newspapers, trade journals and writing copy for agencies. I initially focused on business and financial reporting, and later on horticulture and agriculture. My interests have since gravitated towards historical research and local history. I am particularly interested in heritage research and branding.

I have written my fair share of copy for brochures, corporate publications, websites, wine labels and newsletters. A lot of the work one does disappears and is soon forgotten, so it is always nice to work on something more concrete like a coffee-table book.

Business and academic editing

I am a member of the Professional Editors’ Guild and have seven years’ experience editing economic texts for an international research company and academic texts for international journals. I specialise in the following fields: business management, economics, applied economics and sociology.

Historical research and local history. An enduring passion.

I have collaborated with cultural historians to write up the histories of historical properties in the Cape Winelands and done a fair share of genealogical research. Some of my more unusual ad hoc projects have included the history of jackal-proof fencing in the Karoo, and the history of food gardens and the spice trade around the Cape for Babylonstoren’s Historiese Tuin.

A few years ago I wrote a number of editorials and articles on local history. The editorials I wrote for the Paarl Post between 2008 and 2012 focused primarily on local history, while the articles were based on personal interviews conducted to document oral histories of the 1960s to 1980s.

At the time I was also involved in two oral history projects, one in Wellington―an initiative of the Wellington Museum—and the other in Paarl—a project of the Drakenstein Heemkring, Paarl’s private archive. I have also written a series of articles on Suider Paarl for The Month, and another article on Paarl Station during the 1950s, this time for the Paarl Post. An article on Paarl Mountain was published in Weg!/Go! as a travel article.

Over the years I have filled countless notebooks on the Cape’s early whalers, Paarl’s 19th century wagon builders and stone masons, and the early trade in indigo.

Whalers at the Cape:
1750 — 1850

Commercial whaling is no doubt a rather grim subject for a research project, but my curiosity was sparked while paging through a copy of the African Court Calendar or Kaapse Almanack. The Almanack is essentially a directory that can answer many of the who, what and where questions of life in Cape Town during the first half of the 19th century.

Paarl’s first industries. Wine, wagons and granite.

Paarl’s early development was shaped by agriculture, and wine farming in particular. When phylloxera decimated the Cape’s wine industry, many farmers planted orchards of deciduous fruit, which later developed into a flourishing export industry.

The discovery and development of copper and diamond mines in the 19th century created an enormous demand for wagons. Paarl was ideally placed to repair, furnish and build the wagons.

Paarl’s granite industry was stimulated by the rapid urbanisation of Cape Town during the late 19th century and early 20th century. The boom in the city’s building industry and expansions to the Table Bay harbour created a demand for dimension stone. Cape Town’s quarries could not meet this demand. New railway infrastructure allowed quarrymen to exploit Paarl’s substantial store of granite.

Paarl granite: stone masons and quarries

Until 1870 most of Cape Town’s dimension stone requirements were supplied by local quarries. The oldest quarry, known as the Strand Street Quarry was at the foot of Signal Hill and had been operative since 1660. All the quarries have long since closed but street names such as Quarry Hill Road, Bellevue Road, Higgo Crescent and Higgo Road, and the suburb of Higgovale remain as a reminder of this period in Cape Town’s history. The industry subsequently started to source stone from Paarl.