Old Newlands pub in ruins

The section of the pub located near the railway line.

The old Springbok Pub in Newlands – once home to sports fans looking to celebrate a win or drown their sorrows – is now a shadow of its former self.

The owner of the pub called last rounds in September last year and relocated to Lower Main Road, Observatory.

Since then the one-storey building and the old train carriages next to the Newlands train station have hit rock bottom.

These days, the only visitors are thieves and vandals, and they are there for more than a pint. They’ve stripped window frames, doors and roof sheets.

What they haven’t taken, they have broken, including windows and toilet tiles.

A fire on Monday morning October 5 has helped to complete the picture of a building in ruin.

According to City Fire and Rescue Service spokesman Jermaine Carelse, the fire destroyed the wood panelling of a train carriage and partially damaged the building, including its beams and roof.

Mr Carelse said the cause of the fire was unknown at this stage.

The Tatler found two squatters at the site when we visited it on Saturday September 26, but they weren’t there when we returned on Monday October 5 after the fire.

Ward councillor Ian Iversen said he had tried to warn the Passenger Railway Agency of South Africa (PRASA) last year that the building was standing open and being vandalised and that security was needed urgently.

Mr Iversen said the previous tenants had told him they had left because Prasa had wanted to hit them with a huge rent hike.

The Springbok Pub owner, Dave Harris, confirmed that and said that after ending his lease with Prasa he had left the building in a tip-top condition.

He said that apart from the rent hike, Western Province Rugby’s plans to relocate to the Cape Town Stadium next year had also influenced his decision to move.

The Springbok spent 17 years at the Newlands watering hole, and in that time the pub became something of a landmark.

“It breaks my heart when I see how that building has been broken-down and stripped down,” Mr Harris said.

The Tatler first approached Prasa for comment on September 23. The agency acknowledged receipt of our questions. We then sent further follow-up emails.

Two spokespersons, Riana Scott and Zinobulali Mihi, then told us they had sent our queries to Prasa’s property division, Corporate Real Estate Solutions (CRES), for feedback.

Ms Mihi told us on Wednesday October 7 that they were still waiting to hear back from CRES.

By time of going to print this week, Prasa had still not answered our questions.

Mr Iversen said it was a disgrace that Prasa had allowed an asset to be vandalised.

“Even worse is that they have been aware of the ongoing vandalism but have done nothing and allowed an asset to be destroyed.”

The Tatler checked with the City to see whether the old pub had been listed as a problem building, but City law enforcement spokesman Wayne Dyason said it had not.

“The City’s law enforcement department has a reporting system that residents can use to officially register complaints,” he said.

Residents who wish to report problem buildings can phone 021 480 7700 from a cellphone and 107 from a landline.