The Taj comes to Cape Town
I REMEMBER entering t he r ather s t uff y offices of the Board of Executors in Wale Street every month to buy unit trusts. The building always struck me as being stuck in a time warp. It was like entering the Victorian era with all its dark wood panelling and huge oil paintings – a rather quiet and very official kingdom.
Time rolled on, the board moved to a lavish new building in the modern V&A Waterfront and the old building at the top of town stood empty for years.
Then, a few years ago, the buildings bordering the Company’s Garden were bought by developers. The process of tearing down the innards to rebuild them started.
Today, out off the rubble and rising to the occasion, ready to enhance accommodation in Cape Town, is the Taj hotel.
Last week I spent an interesting two hours with Theo Cromhout touring the nearly completed hotel and found it interesting that they have managed to blend old and new in such a fine manner.
He also assures us that within the next two weeks the top of St George’s Mall and the corner of Wale and Adderley will be returned to Capetonians.
We wi l l n o t h a v e t o f i g h t o u r wa y through rubble and traffic jams.
With many hotels around the world, the Taj group has spared no expense to recreate an excellent blend of old and new in keeping the history of the two landmark buildings.
In places the old wood panelling still exists, the chandeliers have been refurbished and will again light certain areas of the buildings.
And, in a bid to make the hotel fully accessible to Capetonians, they have created three restaurants, with two accessible from the street and not via the hotel foyer.
The one restaurant on the corner of A d d e r l e y a n d Wal e wi l l b e c a l l e d t h e Twankey after the statue on the corner of the building overlooking the street.
The statue was commissioned in 1894 as a symbol of benevolence of the Board of Executors. It is of a shepherdess, holding a crook in her right hand, her left resting on an anchor, while approaching her are two cupids. History relates that this bit of whimsy did not bode well with the townsfolk, nor the cost of 94 pounds.
The large draped female became known as the “Widow Twankey”.
It is also believed that the old BOE buildi ng boar dr oom may s t i l l have a ghost walking the room. Many years ago somebody took a photograph of an empty boardroom, but when the photograph was developed it had a ghostly form in the middle of the room.