In September 1987 Bridgewater Manor Retirement Village was advertised, it was developed by Nick and Pat Baines – their name is given to our small lounge.
On 1 June 1988 Bridgewater Manor was opened – coincidentally 200 years after the homestead was first started. There is a commemorative plaque for the opening – outside the door from the Voorburg lounge to the garden.
Cottages 1 to 37 formed the first phase and all was nearly ready for the first occupants. Thea Selzer and her husband moved in on the first day.
We were so fortunate that Thea had a wonderful memory and ws able to tell us the history of Bridgewater Manor since its founding.
She remembered that the wall along Andries Pretorius Street from cottage 3 to the bottom gate was not yet built – the property was open to the street in those days.
There were deep furrows waiting for the sewerage and water pipes, with small footbridges over them so that residents could reach their cottages.
Security staff only came at weekends, and the walls and security gates came later.
Sand and bricks lay where further cottages were to be built.
For the first 3 days there was no electricity (June is a cold month!) and there were no telephones for 3 months!
The main kitchen was not yet finished.
So the caterer brought in ready cooked meals and washing up was done in what today is the reception area. Only the first dining room was ready, the others still to be completed.
Next building started on Health Care and more cottages were added.
The project was completed in 2½ years – much earlier than expected. Although not everything was perfect in the beginning, Thea said “We all had lots of fun and few complaints, if any.”
We have another special lady who has been here since day one – our head waitress, Caroline Stopforth. She too has many interesting tales to tell…
“Bridgewater Manor Retirement Village is special. Before the new building started, there was a very special gate in the boundary wall. It is called the ‘Fleur gate’ and is a beautiful piece of wrought-iron work with leaves and grapes decorations. For security reasons the gate was kept closed. The gate is in memory of a young girl named Fleur Secretan who died at the young age of 18. She was the companion of Mrs Rockey, the previous owner of Bridgewater Manor.
During building of the factiity centre the ‘Fleur gate’ was kept safe and was re-erected in the newly landscaped garden. (There is a painting of the ‘Fleur gate’ and a tribute to young Fleur on the wall in the passageway between the foyer and the side-door.)
Happy Birthday Bridgewater Manor! We are blessed with a Manor House with its beautiful lounges and gracious atmosphere, comfortable cottages, attractive gardens and the two huge Norfolk pines – one with the star on top which is switched on at Christmas time, and of course the wonderful, friendly and helpful staff who look after us.”
On 1 September 2016, the Financial management of Bridgewater Manor was taken over by Faircape.
This has resulted in not only fewer headaches for the management committee, but also splendid input to the maintenance and refurbishment of the Manor House and the Kitchen.
The dining rooms were repainted and newly carpeted; new dining rooms tables and chairs were installed and trolleys provided for serving meals.
A borehole is now operational providing irrigation for the whole garden.
Improved staff facilities are now in use in the attractively renovated barn.
A dedicated library room was developed and six new Health Care rooms opened.
Faircape also added the activity centre/clubhouse with a meeting hall, a games room, an indoor heated swimming pool, more toilets, a small gym and a coffee shop.
In order to stay relevant in changing times, cottages are constantly being upgraded. Bridgewater Manor has a great future ahead.
*This history was originally written by the late Mrs Thea Selzer and updated recently by Mrs Pamela Duff.