The black and white photographs displayed on the Fyndraai Restaurant’s walls date from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They form part of a project to preserve this region’s photographic heritage. They are drawn from the Paarl Heemkring’s collection of over 26,000 glass-plate negatives. This precious and fragile collection was digitized in 2008, courtesy of a grant from the Delta Trust, so that it may be appreciated by future generations.
The photographer James Gribble emigrated to South Africa from England in 1859 and opened a studio in Hanover Street, Cape Town. His son James Gribble Jnr settled in the town of Paarl, a few miles north of Delta, in 1882. He set up his first studio on the corner of Resevoir and Main Roads, and a second one in Market Square. In 1919 his son Harold joined the studios; so the work of two (if not three) generations of Gribble photographers can be found in this collection. The work of other Paarl photographers – such as G.A. Decker and Geo Bell – also form part of the collection, which provides us with a unique social and visual record of this valley from the late 19th century to the end of World War II. There are additionally several images displayed from the collection showing buildings and people from Delta estate and its immediate vicinity.
The colour photographs interspersed between the black and white ones provide a snapshot of our buildings and people today: Solms-Delta’s resident workers, managers, owners and children. Almost all of these photographs were taken before the Bastille Day parade, 2007, when the community of this valley celebrated its freedom from slavery, religious persecution and apartheid. It is with honour and humility that we remember those who came before us, and the graceful buildings they constructed, in the hope that this special place might be preserved for many generations to come.