said that there should be a path running along the top of the cliff. A path for everyone to use and enjoy the splendour of our coast. He made a proposal in this regard to the newly formed Botanical Society."
Members were enthusiastic and Ion Williams took on the task of plotting the route. Tying bits of white sheet to the fynbos along the route, the path started to unfold and has become one of the unique features of Hermanus.
Flight Lieutenant RE Jones was a fighter pilot in WWII in RAF 605 Squadron during the Battle Of Britain. He was ‘One of 'The Few' mentioned in the famous speech given by Sir Winston Churchill. He was shot down over Kent on 15 September 1940, the last day of the Battle of Britain. He took a cannon shell in his arm, but managed to bail out and landed in an apple orchard close to an old farmhouse he knew from weekend visits before the war. The farmer picked him up and took him to the local hospital where he was treated. After his recovery, he was posted to Central Flying School at Uphaven for an instructors’ course. He was then sent to South Africa, 24 Air School Dunnotar, to train SAAF pilots. He was demobbed on Aug 20th 1945
Jones loved his few months in South Africa so much so that he emigrated in 1947 and before going to Johannesburg as planned, he visited a friend in Hermanus, fell in love with the little village and stayed. He was appointed as manager at Eric Westcott’s cold drink factory in Mitchell Street. He married Betty in 1948.
He had a passion for growing seeds and gardening, and soon the area between the factory and their home became the first plant nursery in Hermanus. He once imported 70 named varieties of hydrangeas and soon became known as the 'Hydrangea King'. He regularly supplied nurseries in Cape Town with hydrangea, bougainvillea, camellia and hibiscus plants. In 1957, Otto Prillewitz, Ion Williams and Jones implemented the beginnings of Fernkloof Nature Reserve. Jones acted as first manager.
Eric Jones died in Hermanus in 1994. He died with a letter in his shirt pocket that his daughter had written to him from America, giving details of her first solo flight. She had followed in her father’s footsteps and became a qualified pilot. Eric must have died happy in that knowledge. His memorial service was held on the lawns of his beloved Fernkloof, with sunbirds twittering in the proteas and francolin scratching in the undergrowth. His ashes lie scattered around a rock on the mountain side that he loved with a passion, and was instrumental in turning into a nature reserve.
Article extracted from SJ du Toit – Whale Capital Chronicles I.
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