Couple hold out on the Hill

Xolisa Phillip

ALTHOUGH the row of historic Donkin Street cottages in Central, Port Elizabeth, is undergoing a major facelift, there is something unusual about house No37.

In the midst of all the construction hullabaloo going on in and behind the street, there is no knocking down of anything or a fresh lick of paint yet planned at No37.

The little green house on the Hill is home to an octogenarian couple who are the only remaining residents in the famous row of houses.

Home to Thelma, 81, and McNair Beveridge, 85, the house retains its old character and represents a slice of retirement contentment.

Although a few offers have been made for their home, the couple, originally from Scotland, are adamant about staying put on the Hill in the house they have lived in since 1963.

“We have many fond memories in this home, have raised our five children here and reached many milestones and are thus attached to this house,” Thelma says with a chuckle.

But McNair is not as reticent as his wife when explaining his reasons for remaining in the little green house.

“I am not keen on moving because money is not everything.

“You can’t take it with you when you die,” he says.

Thelma says: “The joke around here is that we wouldn’t last at a retirement village anyway because I play the bagpipes and piano. McNair is also used to doing his own thing.”

The Beveridges are not oblivious to the state of their home’s exterior, which is particularly stark when contrasted with those of the newly painted surrounding houses.

“We’ll be able to do something about that when the work around us is done. When we do paint again, we’ll probably retain the green,” Thelma quips.

The Beveridges moved into the house in 1963 “because it was one bus stop away from the beach, the school was nearby for the children and we could take the bus to work”.

The historic houses have been at the centre of a dispute between property tycoon Ken Denton and the Provincial Heritage Resources Authority (PHRA).

Last year, PHRA ordered Denton to cease renovations because he did not have a permit.

PHRA heritage manager Lennox Zote said: “We are not anti the work per se, but are against the fact that the correct procedures have not been followed.

“This [refurbishment] could set a bad precedent for others who might want to carry out work on sites that are heritage buildings.”

Zote confirmed that Denton remained without a permit.

The Herald contacted Denton in mid-December. He referred queries to his public relations officer, Julie Mundell. She said they would only be able to respond later this month.


Leave a Reply