Tuesday April 24 was a momentous day for the Mossops and their extended family as it marked the centenary of the purchase of their historic home, Uitkyk, on the slopes of Fish Hoek beach just above the railway line.
The house is home to Judy Bekker and her partner, Valerie Morris, and to celebrate the milestone, the couple hosted a family get-together in the garden with its frangipani tree overlooking the beach on Sunday April 22.
Judy expressed gratitude for being able to live in such a beautiful, historic home, and she paid tribute to relatives long gone and wished future generations well.
On April 24 in 1918, Thomas Mossop, Judy’s great-grandfather, was one of three men who bid on the property, number 23 and number 25 Simon’s Town Road. He was successful in his bid, and the house – which is officially the oldest house in Fish Hoek and said to have been a former supply store in the 1600s – became the place where three generations of Mossops lived, laughed and died.
Following the deaths of Judy’s great- grandparents, Thomas and Mary, her grandparents, Harold and May, lived and died there. The house then became home to her parents, Ralph and Mary, who lived there for 25 years after moving to Fish Hoek in the early 1970s.
For Judy, the house is a place of great comfort and a reminder of happy times shared by her family.
A passage wall covered in black-and-white photographs of generations of family members and more recent, colour photographs, is testament to the happy memories and the people who have lived, worked and visited Uitkyk.
The spacious living room with its red-brick fireplace is home to several pieces of furniture with great historical significance. However, there are two special items, two armchairs, one which belonged to Judy’s mother and the other to her father.
Her father’s chair is covered in Mossop leather from the family business, Mossop & Son Tannery, which recently celebrated its 172nd anniversary.
The business was established in Rondebosch in 1846 and her father, who worked at the tannery from a young age, later became its managing director. He was also a ward councillor for 10 years in Rondebosch before he retired at the age of 55 in 1969.
During her father’s time as a ward councillor, Judy was a municipal reporter for the Cape Times.
“He would always hide his documents from me, saying I am firstly a reporter and secondly his daughter,” she said laughing.
Judy has fond memories of her father, whom she describes as a traditionalist, a man who loved family gatherings and socialising on his stoep in Uitkyk.
She said it was a great privilege for her to live in a house with such a rich history.
“In this time of impermanence, we have this extraordinary permanence,” she said.
She said she believed in stewardship, rather than ownership and that was what she and Valerie had done: preserved the house, holding it in trust, for future generations to remember the Mossop legacy.