Celebrating life and the past

A major portion of the editorial in this issue is taken up by an article on the history of foundries, past and present, in the Western Cape area.

I would like to thank the following people who helped with compiling this ‘brief’ overview on the history of the Western Cape foundries: Andre Knoop, John Davies, John James, Alan Wood and Robin Portlock. To the best of our knowledge all facts are correct. There could be some information that we have missed and we would welcome any contributions to make the document as complete as possible. If anybody has some historic pictures please can you send us copies. If you have any further information that you feel we have missed please send it on to us.

The exercise also led me to believe that there must be many untold stories from our industry in the rest of the country. For example, who would have known that the 1820 Settlers were amongst the first to start a foundry in South Africa in the Grahamstown area of the Eastern Cape. Or who would have known that it was only in 1890 that one of the first foundries was established in the Gauteng area. During the Second Boer War the foundry was commandeered by the Transvaal Boers to produce arms and ammunition. At the time the foundry was based in Johannesburg but experienced a tremendous explosion, which destroyed most of the factory and was a serious blow to the ZAR government. The business was relocated to Middelburg in 1906 is still in existence today. I look forward to documenting more of this history.

My motivation to put together this report was stirred by a press release of an anniversary of a company in the Western Cape that has a foundry attached to it. On investigation I realised that there was not much readily available information on the foundry or on any of the other foundries in the area. I have to say that it has been a fascinating exercise doing the research on this subject. Although it is a limited report it does highlight the fact that it is very important to document and collate the information, before it is forgotten.

This point was brutally reinforced with the sudden and untimely passing of Luis Dias at the tender age of 61. Luis was one of the most well respected and liked personalities in the foundry industry for over 30 years, having built up a reputation in this period for going out of his way to make time and come up with a solution for anybody that phoned, visited or presented a problem. Luis was extremely committed to the foundry industry but more importantly he was a devoted husband, son, father, brother, grandfather, uncle and in-law and a very proud man. He will leave a gaping void to all of us that knew him. RIP Luis – we will miss you.