Guests should be aware that that the Tourism Grading Council has variable criteria when grading an establishment. There are four categories when it comes to grading - B&B, Guest House, Lodge, Hotel - and the criteria are different for each. The requirements for a 4-star hotel are quite different for those of a 4-star B&B.
Guests are advised to check in which category the establishment they propose to stay has been graded. Green Gables, for instance, has been graded as a 4-star Guest House; this means that apart from anything else, all our rooms have queen size beds and the lounge, dining room and kitchen are for the exclusive use of our guests. If you are staying in an establishment which is graded as a 4-star B&B, the lounge, kitchen and dining room are all rooms which are part of the family home and are used communally by the family.
In addition, there is no regulation over the size of an establishment or its name. A Guest House can call itself a lodge or a boutique hotel. An establishment can call itself a B&B, be graded as a guest house and have more than 50 rooms.
Green Gables adheres to the Grading Council criteria, that guests are staying on someone’s private property, where the owner is still living on the property.
Green Gables is proudly owned and managed by Christopher Hughes, who was trained at hotel school in England and has worked in a number of first class hotels. Christopher is a colourful character, a one-time scuba instructor, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and historian. Christopher has well-trained staff but is very hands-on, doing the cooking himself, especially dinner for guests by prior arrangement.
Green Gables Guest House has been developed to provide a high level of comfort and privacy. At the same time a conscious effort has been made to retain the character of the property. This means that the property has not been over-developed, therefore retaining and enhancing the feeling of a country residence. This is of particular relevance to guests who wish to stay with us for extended periods.
Classical Cape Dutch architecture, high wooden ceilings, queen-sized beds, armchairs, individually styled rooms, a residents lounge and stoep, and tranquil gardens serve to make Green Gables unique.
Our aim is to provide our guests with good comfortable accommodation and a high level of service.
In accordance with the Section 9(1) of the Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment Act 53 of 2003, Green Gables is classified as an Exempted Micro Enterprise (EME) and is therefore exempted from being measured against any BEE scorecard. This gives you a BEE recognition level of 100%.
The 4 bedrooms and 2 self-catering units, which have fully equipped kitchens, are all en-suite with private entrances. The bedrooms are situated in the old farm house, One room has a walled private garden.
The dining room and the residents’ lounge are situated next to the pool and are totally separate from the accommodation.
Green Gables is situated on the remaining portion of a farm and the bedrooms are in the converted farmhouse. Green Gables also has the last remaining trading store which is now used as the guests' lounge. Christopher’s own home is on the adjacent property, so he is always available.
In the past - up to the 1950's - Rivonia was a small farming community. Rivonia Road, which is now a major North-South arterial, was so called because it ended at the village of Rivonia.
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The residents lounge is situated in the building that was originally Schull's trading store. Constructed in 1906, the store stood in front of the original farmhouse. The building unofficially served as Rivonia's first post office until 1912. A later owner, Mr Miller also provided a taxi service to the residents of this old farming area. Some older residents of Rivonia still refer to this building as 'the old post office building'. The original building was lovingly restored and tastefully renovated.
History of Rivonia & Woodmead
by Christopher Jepp
Three million years ago the early hominids lived in Sandton and the surrounding areas, as evidenced by Mrs. Ples' residence at Sterkfontein. Australopethecus Africanus and his successor Australopethecus Robustus are the better known habitue's of these early Sandton days. Evidence of early Stone Age activity and Homo Habilis - man who used his hands and tools - abounds in the area. Then about 100 000 years ago we discover signs of Homo Erectus or modern man walking upright as we do. (Unfortunately we are swiftly regressing to the bowed posture, weighed down by 21 St Century debt, cellular phones, and laptops! Sandton's first semi-permanent residents settled here about 30 000 years ago esconcing themselves at locations line Lone Hill where they were mainly hunter-gatherers).
The perennial watercourses, of which the Braamfontein Spruit forms the Western boundary of Rivonia and the Sand Spruit forms the Eastern, were essential to the settlement of man. Early iron production by bantu speaking peoples took place at, inter alia, Lone Hill, Fourways, and Norscot, as evidenced by the remains of primitive smelters.
Early white settlers were farmers of Voortrekker extraction. Rivonia is within the confines of the Rietfontein farm - one of the very earliest nineteenth century subdivisions of the land north of Johannesburg. Well-known names of these settlers were the Ehlers', Eschenburgs, Beytendachs, Esterhuizens and the Heynekes to mention but a few. In 1905 Koos Roux owned the farm Edenburg which gave its name to the district, later changed to Rivonia and guaranteed to confuse many a resident old and new since then!. Thomas Manson (known as 'Lord' Manson due to his dress and manner) bought a portion of Edenburg, naming it Farringdon and establishing a dairy farm towards what we now know as Woodmead. This was later sold to German immigrants the Steineke's.
Rivonia as a township was proclaimed in 1903. It later fell under the Peri-Urban Board formed in 1947 which was run from Pretoria by political bureaucrats, an unhappy period many thought. Sandton as we know it until recently was established in July 1969. Sandton has lately been incorporated into the Eastern Metropolitan Sub Structure with such unlikely partners as Alexandra Township and Hillbrow. It is now to become an element in the monstrous new Megalopolis as yet unnamed.
Sandton is today regarded as one of the most prosperous and rapidly growing communities in southern Africa and is sure to remain so. It is long past when it was regarded as the up-market dormitory appendage of Johannesburg. As the Johannesburg 'townsmen', business and mining, moved north to live in the 'country' of which Rivonia was a leading part, it was inevitable that those areas would lose much of their early character; that very character which was, in fact, attracting the investment and presence of the 'townies'.
The rural and rustic nature was submerged beneath a changing daily and even nightly lifestyle of the inhabitants old and new. 'Sundowners' and dinner parties were introduced that were in direct conflict with an existing lifestyle. A lifestyle which at that time of the daily cycle was concerned more with closing up the farm, bathing babies and children, and generally getting and early night in prospect of starting work before the sun did on the next day, than a swinging social life. The shaggy farm pony became the glossy 15-hand steed of the new 'nobility'. Townspeople's dogs were a menace on the farms, not knowing how to behave any better than their owners did. Poaching of fish, fowl, or fauna of any sort became endemic night and day. it became necessary to lock up and secure house and farm for even the briefest trip. (How modern can you get?)
By 1947 land in Rivonia as fetching 1000-1200 pounds sterling an acre. At that time, nethertheless, there was still wildlife around; birds (particularly in the riverine), jackals and steenbok are examples The blow really fell in 1949 when the new Valuation Roll of the Peri-Urban Board brought great changes and made life very difficult for those residents of Rivonia of modest means who could never afford the new high rates and taxes. The high valuations on properties were fictitious and land rarely, if ever, changed for such sums.
How familiar, when some properties in Rivonia have recently sold for as little as 50 percent of Municipal Valuation! Things may change, but how they remain the same! New roads chopped up fields and gardens. The bucolic days were truly numbered. Now the old lost farmhouses, of which some still stand, are mere sad relics of former restful days in Rivonia. One farm of fame is Lilliesleaf Farm, now 8 Winston Avenue, Rivonia Woods, where Nelson Mandela's comrades hid out and were arrested on 11 July 1963. The actual small thatched cottage where they hid is on an adjacent property; 10 Winston Avenue.
The first one-room school in the area was opened in Rivonia near Woodmead and call Rietfontein No. 15. It was built near the river and on stilts for that reason. In 1914 land was purchased at a cost of 12 pounds sterling at the site of the present Rivonia Primary School in main Street. A new school was built, the headmaster and 'font et origo' of the development being one Mr. Stopforth, or 'Stoppie', as he was affectionately known. He also established the first Tennis Club in Rivonia on courts he built in the school grounds. An early pupil at the school was one Peter Bekker, later Dr Peter Bekker, and an authority on Southern African indigenous peoples and author of the Mzilikazi book 'Path of Blood', amongst others.
A Mr. Schull on the corner of 10th Avenue and Bevan Road owned the first Rivonia shop. The building still exists, covered in creepers. It was also the local Post office and later owner, Mr Miller, gave lifts to residents into Rosebank (20 miles hence) and Johannesburg when he went to fetch stores. The Millers moved the shop and the family owned the Rivonia Supply Store until very recent times. It was eventually sold to new owners and renamed Rivonia Produce and General dealers - which it remains to this day in Rivonia Boulevard. Customers exhibited extraordinary loyalty and travelled from as far afield as Roodepoort and the East Rand to patronise it. No mean feat in days gone by.
Early Tea Gardens and Hotels
Mr. and Mrs. Jack Nell established a Tea garden at their home 'Sleepy Hollow'. It became a regular mid-way stop for travellers between Pretoria and Johannesburg. Later it became a hotel and 'The Sleepy Hollow' has been a well-known venue ever since. It has now been renamed the 'Rivonia Inn' in Rietfontein Road.
Early Public Transport
As mentioned above Mr. Miller the proprietor of the Rivonia shop gave lifts to residents wishing to visit Johannesburg. A Mrs. Green, who lived on the corner of 9th Street and De La Rey Street, decided to improve the situation and drew up a petition to the Authorities which resulted in a 3-times-a-week bus service for Rivonia residents. The trip was nethertheless a long and uncomfortable one in an open conveyance with no apparent sprints! Seats were planks running along the side. Cargo, apart from the usual passengers, could comprise anything from vegetables, fruit, varied farm produce, chickens, flowers, mail, to small children and even calves. It was later replaced with a converted tram, protected to a degree from the elements but no more comfortable. The vehicle was driven by 'a handsome Mr. Delport' who stopped and charged as he saw fit, which was always to suit his passengers. He would even wait for late arrivals! What has happened to personal service! the bus and roads improved by the 1930's due largely to the preponderance of young Rivonia residents taking up employment in the 'City'. The first example, perhaps, of what gave rise to the perception of the 'north' being the city dormitory.
The ubiquitous Mr. Miller of shop fame was the proud owner of the first telephone in Rivonia itself.