Start main page content

Champion of heritage

- By Wits University

Wits University awarded a Gold Medal to Flo Bird, champion of preserving the heritage of Johannesburg, during its December Graduation Ceremony for the Faculty of Engineering and the Build Environment.

A “descended from Johannesburg pioneers”, Bird has been actively involved in researching the history of the city and promoting the preservation of its heritage.

“I note that many of you graduands have specialised in Engineering and the Built Environment and since the heritage of the built environment has been my concern for the last 40 years I am hopeful of persuading you to conserve as well as develop that environment,” she told graduands.

Here talk was themed on “righteous wrath and protest” and how her rage and anger about how the apartheid government, property developers and others were destroying the city’s heritage led to the actual preservation thereof.

“Ours is not a wealthy first world society where buildings can be kept and sustained as museums which would happen in Australia or the US. Our heritage buildings and sites need to work and they need imaginative property developers to do so,” she said.

Today, she is still very active and vociferous in advocating for retaining the heritage of old buildings and places around the city and suburbs, and for restricting property developers who chase money instead of preserving Johannesburg's beautiful suburbs.