WESTERN CAPE MINISTER OF CULTURAL AFFAIRS AND SPORT, ANROUX MARAIS
PROVINCIAL HERITAGE SITE PLAQUE UNVEILING: REX TRUEFORM FACTORY COMPLEX
11 FEBRUARY 2019
Good day, molweni nonke, goeiemôre,
It is indeed a privilege and honour to address you at this very significant occasion as we unveil the Provincial Heritage Site plaque for the Rex Trueform Factory Complex today.
At the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS) we strive to provide for the conservation, promotion and development of heritage resources to facilitate processes for the standardisation or changes, where necessary, to assist with heritage resource management by implementing at provincial level the mandates of the World Heritage Convention Act, 1999 and the National Heritage Resources Act, 1999.
Together with the expert assistance of Heritage Western Cape and the City of Cape Town’s facilitation, the historical, social and architectural significance and the representative and symbolic nature of the Rex Trueform Factory Complex is now officially acknowledged and will rightfully be promoted in the public domain as a Provincial Heritage Site.
As a result of in-depth research and following the relevant official processes, the historical and social significance of the Rex Trueform Factory Complex can now be highlighted. The Rex Trueform Factory Complex is socially and architecturally significant as it is testimony to both the workers’ rights movement and the modern functionalist movement of the mid-20th century. Once a giant in the global clothing industry, Rex Trueform employed many residents of the then “Coloured” Salt River district and even further away from the Cape Flats. Notably, many were “Coloured” women - a constituency who had not entered the job-market in significant numbers before this time. This large factory complex testifies to the growth in South Africa’s working class after World War II, specifically in the textile industry and the pivotal role women played in contributing to the economy.
This large factory complex also exemplifies workspaces that were segregated according to gender and race. Illustrating this is the large staircase designed by Andrews and Niegemann, which was meant for use by employees of Colour and had flights for each gender. In addition, the Rex Trueform Building is a clear and relatively well-preserved example of a modern functionalist movement in South Africa. The factory’s original design emphasizes efficiency in space and light. The architects selected the most modern material of the day as can still be seen by the juggernaut Georgian wire glass windows of the 1948 Victoria Road façade.
In these ways, the social heritage and architectural heritage of Rex Trueform is not only significant, but intertwined. The factory complex reflects the economic, social and architectural history of Cape Town. The Rex Trueform building is also a great architectural example of modern functionalism. Overall, this factory complex reflects the economic, social and architectural history of Cape Town and shows in real terms where we come from and how far we have come to improve on where we are heading.
The Provincial Heritage Site Status will communicate clearly and definitively that the heritage community and agencies consider this site to be a major and important heritage asset that warrants serious and focused conservation attention from all parties. Provincial Heritage Site Status immediately provides the full protection to these sites described in the National Heritage Resources Act (1999). This is indeed welcomed by the Western Cape Government as we can all agree that the value of the Rex Trueform Factory Complex lies in its representative and symbolic nature, amplified by its economic, social and architectural significance. This Provincial Heritage Site is of outstanding significance for the memorialisation and acknowledgement of the textile industry and its role and contribution to society as experienced today.
I look forward to collaboratively sharing the significance of the newly officiated Provincial Heritage Site at The Rex Trueform Factory Complex, which includes its importance in illustrating the development of the working class in South Africa and more specifically in the Western Cape. I thank all who had a hand in the approval of the Provincial Heritage Site Status bestowed upon the Rex Trueform Factory Complex. We are indeed grateful to each stakeholder as you have contributed to a community’s sense of place, belonging and purpose and unleashed its potential to yield information contributing to a wider understanding of the history of co-existence in the Western Cape.
I thank you.