Church stands proud after 100 years

The Church of the Transfiguration in Durban Road, Bellville.

The Church of the Transfiguration in Bellville started out as a little thatch-roofed church built on a sandy wasteland with overgrown weeds and Port Jackson bushes, but today, 100 years later, it proudly stands in Durban Road.

In November 1916, the foundation stone of the first Church of the Transfiguration was laid on a site along a little dirt road, known as Tramway Street, which led down to the railway siding called Durban Road.

On August 6 1917, the church was consecrated by the Most Reverend William Marlborough Carter. Reverend Wilfred Lowry Castley became the first rector and by November that year, it was proclaimed a parish.

Tramway Street was renamed Coronation Avenue in 1937, to commemorate the coronation of King George VI, and later Kruskal Avenue in the early 1960s. The church was later demolished but the foundation stone was salvaged and is now preserved in the west wall of the church’s minor hall.

A succession of rectors followed Reverend Castley, and while Reverend Richard Llewellyn was at the helm, the need for larger premises was discussed. Father Llewellyn had written in the parish magazine, The Cross: “We who are members of The Church of the Transfiguration ought to work hard, especially this year towards building a new parish church.”

During a meeting on March 24 1958, members decided to accept a proposal by the Wells Organisation, to canvass the parishioners for the money needed to build a bigger church on the same site.

Over a three-year period, the church managed to collect 12 000 pounds but the church had later been notified that the municipality was interested in the property, which they wanted to convert into a car parking space.

During this time a man, referred to as Mr H. Singh, had offered the church eight vacant plots connected to Durban Road, Sydney Street and Teddington Street in Bellville, for 12 300 pounds.

At a parish council meeting on December 15 1958, it was agreed to sell the original property in Tramway Street to the municipality at a cost of 27 000 pounds and to buy the vacant eight plots for the
12 300 pounds.

The plans for the new church were drawn by architects George Willis and Jack Jenkins and were approved by the Bellville municipality.

On August 13 1960 the foundation stone for the new church was laid by the Most High Reverend Joost de Blank, Archbishop of Cape Town at the time.

The church was dedicated on January 28 1961 with about 400 people attending the service. Today, 100 years later, it has grown from strength to strength with Father Theo Hendricks at the helm.

A celebration service was held on Sunday November 13, followed by lunch. The church will hold several celebration events over the course of the year, up until August next year.