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WOCKE, Richard Carl George Theodor

Born: 1831 11 27
Died: 1890 04 24


Also known as George Carl Albert Theodor. Incorrectly identified as 'A. W.' in Oberholster (1972: 212)

A master builder who worked in Bloemfontein who was engaged in the design of buildings, 'the dapper little German in his light-coloured top hat' (Roodt 1987:117) was tenacious and ready to adapt to any situation. Wocke was born the son of Albert Carl Theodor Wocke and his wife Ernestine von Wagenschüte in Langenbielau, Silesia, Germany, and attended a building school in Germany. He settled in Cape Town in 1854 after his ship was stranded at Cape Agulhas. He apparently trained and worked as a plasterer and bricklayer in Cape Town for several years under the mentorship of Carl Otto HAGER whose direct robust style of churches he adopted as designer. In 1865 he advertised in De Tijd in Bloemfontein as a Master Builder and Architect. He did voluntary service with the Bloemfontein Rangers for the Basuto Wars (1865-1866) and designed and constructed the Basuto Monument (1871). His first large job was the supervision and modifying of the design of Dudley MALE of the Anglican Cathedral, Bloemfontein 1866. He carried out a series of churches for the Dutch Reformed Church in the mid 1870s and was in charge of the construction of the Government offices in Bloemfontein (1877, razed by fire, 1908). He had been working in Bloemfontein as a master builder and architect for about ten years before he built the Tweetoringkerk (Two-towered church) in central Bloemfontein (1880) to the adapted design of WB HAYS; he won the competition for the Bloemfontein Town Hall in 1883 (demolished in 1934). The Tweetoringkerk continues to hold a position of importance in the city centre of modern Bloemfontein. In 1885 Wocke was elected to the Bloemfontein Town Council and became a founder member of the Freemasons' Lodge Union. In 1887 he left Bloemfontein, due to the effects on the economy of the drought of 1885-1887, to prospect at Blauuwbank. He returned to Bloemfontein in about 1888, dying two years later after a series of repeated paralytic strokes. He is buried in the Lutheran sections of the Bloemfontein cemetery and President FW Reitz acted as one of the pall-bearers. Roodt (1987:127) sketches Wocke's significance to Bloemfontein 'he was entrusted with numerous important government projects and must be regarded as the major factor in the establishment of the visible artefacts in church and state endeavours. His buildings were adequate if austere and in the period before the coming of Canning, Stucke and Harrison, he was the universal erector of numerous ... buildings that needed to be erected to further the functioning of state and community.' WOCKE and his wife had eleven chldren. One of his sons, Richard Colner Albert WOCKE, educated in Germany, was already working in Bloemfontein in early 1880s as a master builder with his father and was overseer of the building of the 4th Council Chambers in the city. Another G Wocke was recommended as supervisor during the construction of the Volkshospitaal in Bloemfontein in 1892, while in 1897 one Emil Otto Heinrich Wocke was a Clerk in Public Works (Schoeman, 1982: 51).

(DSAB IV; Kesting 1978; Lantern Jul 1984:50-8.)

All truncated references not fully cited in 'References' are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.

Books citing WOCKE

HSRC. 1981. Dictionary of South African Biography Volume IV. Pretoria: Butterworth & Co (SA) for Human Sciences Research Council. pp 790-791

Menache, Philippe & David, Darryl Earl. 2012. A Platteland Pilgrimage : 102 country churches of South Africa . South Africa: Booktown Richmond Press. pp 25

Nienaber, PJ , Smit, JD. 1987. Vrystaatse Argitektuur - Historiese-argitektoniese ontwikkeling van die Vrystaatse boukuns. Pretoria: Stigting NALN. pp 35

Oberholster, JJ. 1972. The historical monuments of South Africa. Cape Town: Rembrandt Van Rijn Foundation for Culture at the request of the National Monuments Council. pp 212, 216

Picton-Seymour, Désirée. 1977. Victorian Buildings in South Africa. Cape Town: AA Balkema. pp

Roodt, Leon. 1987. The Architecture of the Orange Free State Republic 1854-1902. Bloemfontein: Unpublished Ph.D. pp 98, 100, 101, 103, 104, 105, 108, 116-119, 120-121, 126-127

Schoeman, Karel. 1980. Bloemfontein: die ontstaan van n stad. Kaapstad: Human & Rousseau. pp 44b, 46b, 47b, 48b, 64b, 65b, 66a, 66b, 68a, 97b, 98a, 99b, 121b

Schoeman, Karel. 1982. Vrystaatse erfenis : Bouwerk en geboue in die 19de eeu. Kaapstad: Human & Rousseau. pp 45-51, 63, 65, 67, 70, 73, 76; 23 (ill.), 24 (ill.)

Schoeman, Karel. 1985. Boukunsskatte van die Vrystaat / Free State Heritage. Roodepoort: CUM Boeke vir Stigting NALM. pp 17, 37-38, 47, 56

Chapters in books citing WOCKE

Schoeman, Karel. Wocke, Richard Carl George Albert Theodor: in 1981. Dictionary of South African Biography Volume IV: pp 790