MUIZENBERG – The Golden Years

By Michael Walker

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dr rynoThe years 1880 to 1930 were without doubt the most important in the development of Muizenberg. It evolved from what was nothing more than a motley settlement of shacks and farmhouses into the premier holiday resort in Southern Africa – known as ‘the Brighton of South Africa’.

Coincidentally it was during this period that picture postcards also flourished. Access to a good quality camera was difficult, and the alternative was to send your friends and family a picture postcard of your holiday at the seaside. Postage was inexpensive and consequently many thousands of picture postcards were published.

This booklet highlights, through picture postcards, the Golden Years of Muizenberg, Dr Ryno Greenwall 1880 – 1930. It is produced by Michael Walker, and is dedicated by the members of the Postcard Society of Southern Africa to the memory of the late Dr Ryno Greenwall. He was an early member of the Society and his constant help and encouragement as well as his vast knowledge was an inspiration to all who knew him.

All postcards are from the Michael Walker collection unless otherwise stated.

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Muizenberg was in the early 1880s nothing more than a small settlement of farmhouses and beach shacks and up until then the beach had been mainly used for trek-fishing and for the landing of whale carcasses. Whaling enjoyed a short-lived boom at Muizenberg from 1860 to 1880 after whaling stations had been forced to move initially from Simon’s Town and thereafter Kalk Bay as the stench from decomposing carcasses and the boiling of the blubber was repugnant to local residents.

Muizenberg east of the Sandvlei was ideal as it was uninhabited. The female Southern Right Whales were the most common to be harpooned as they entered the False Bay during September and October in search of sandy-bottomed beaches to calve. Muizenberg beach offered ideal calving conditions. The hunting of these female whales eventually led to the inevitable demise and collapse of the whaling industry.

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The popularity of the ‘sands of Muizenberg’, was immortalized in Rudyard Kipling’s poem,
‘white as the sands of Muizenberg, spun before the gale – ’

This popularity slowly grew and by the turn of the century the beach had become so frequented that the need for decent change-room and toilet facilities as well as a tea-room became inevitable. This took the form of the building of the first beach pavilion – a wooden structure which was opened on Saturday 16 December 1911 by the Administrator of the Cape Province, the Honourable Sir Frederic de Waal.

It was reported in the South African Railway Holiday brochure as “being able to accommodate 3000 bathers a day so that Muizenberg, besides being the best beach on our coast, could now offer every comfort and convenience.” This attractive pavilion firmly established Muizenberg beach as the most sort after resort and literally thousands of local and up-country beach-goers flocked to the ‘sands of Muizenberg’.

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The Pavilion was built departmentally by the Kalk Bay-Muizenberg Municipality at a cost of £3, 641 which included drainage, electric lighting and road-making.

The size was increased soon after the opening to include a permanent tea-room. There were 97 dressing cubicles for men and 77 for ladies. The pavilion was raised from the beach on stilts to allow the high tides to carry up the beach.

It was demolished in 1929 when a new pavilion of much more grandiose proportions was constructed on an adjacent plot which was set back from the high tides.

Included in the new pavilion was a theatre as well as a large hall which was used for civic meetings and dances. A tea-room, capable of seating over 200 people, was another popular attraction. The Council realised the tea-room’s potential and annually called for catering tenders. This pavilion was demolished in the early 1970s due to high maintenance costs which included the deterioration of the concrete. This occurred mainly due to the proximity of the sea.

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Originally an untidy and disorderly row of shacks and tin huts lined the beach front. These were demolished by order of the Kalk Bay – Muizenberg Municipality and new bathing boxes were provided by the Council.

These boxes were constructed through a system of builders’ tenders to a standard design, size and variety of colours. They were erected, then hired out to the public or sold at a predetermined price to private individuals. The Municipality charged an annual rent on all private bathing boxes which covered the cost of maintenance, painting and upkeep. In 1913 near on one hundred bathing boxes stood along the beach front.

They were constructed in rows on either side of the pavilion which was the hub of beach activity. The maintenance cost of these boxes, however, proved too expensive and gradually the municipality began to repossess them, and once they had deteriorated to a certain point they were demolished and not replaced.

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Surfing, it is alleged, was first introduced to the young folk on Muizenberg beach by an Australian who was stationed here at the outbreak of World War I. He shaped a wooden board and demonstrated the skills of wave-surfing to an appreciative audience who ‘soon took to the waves’ in great numbers.

It is said that three major events projected Muizenberg into becoming the premier holiday resort of Southern Africa. The first was, without doubt, the arrival of the railway in 1883. Now tens of thousands of local day-trippers could have access to the sea where previously only the wealthy who owned horses and traps could regularly visit Muizenberg.

The Railways offered one day ‘picnic-specials’ which brought many thousands to Muizenberg. The first station was a standard Cape Government Railways’ building which had very limited facilities for such a large influx of visitors who frequented Muizenberg over the weekends and public holidays.

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Fogeys Railway House Restaurant 2006

As the popularity of Muizenberg grew it became necessary to build a station which embodied the importance of this seaside resort. Architect J.C. Tully and the South African Railways set about creating a statement in stone to acknowledge Muizenberg’s importance. The result was a fine Edwardian structure which took near on two years to build. It was opened on 7 June 1913 by the Minister of Railways and Harbours, the Honourable Henry Burton.

It was a gala day during which the band of the 2nd Lancashire Regiment was in attendance. The construction was undertaken by W. Delbridge and Co. who employed expert stonemasons. The flagstone used for paving came from the Elsie’s Peak quarry in Fish Hoek while the exterior dressed stone was from the Mountain View Quarry in Muizenberg. The red-brick building with arched sandstone entrances still graces the skyline of Muizenberg today.

p16Another type of transport that existed at Muizenberg at the turn of the century was the Muizenberg – Kommetjie bus service (1902 – 1905). This unique and short-lived service was the first ever bus service in the Cape Peninsula and probably in South Africa.

It was owned by the Kommetjie Estates and ran weekdays between Kommetjie and Fish Hoek. This was extended to Muizenberg on the weekends to cater for day-trippers to enjoy the Atlantic coast and the beautiful beaches of Kommetjie and Noordhoek.

The message on the postcard below reads “The Kommetje’s Ltd Motor Bus & Party before leaving St James for the Kommetje where we spent a jolly day on the 27.12.04. The journey takes about 11/4 hours.”

p17The bus was of French manufacture and bore the signboard Kommetjie Estates Ltd. It was a 16-seater which included a driver/mechanic by the name of Mr Seville. The bus proved to be a real headache for him.

The frequent breakdowns and the endless problems of sand dunes, in which the bus was invariably stuck, saw the demise of this venture. The scenes of passengers pushing the bus through the sands of Fish Hoek was all too frequent and proved a financial disaster.

Not only were the passengers reluctant to pay the fare after such effort but the high cost of continual repairs proved too much. It appears from all accounts that Mr Seville was also permanently stressed out.

The service was closed in 1905 after a life of little more than three years and transport reverted back to the ox-wagon and the horse cart. The laying out of a ‘hard road’ between Muizenberg and Kommetjie was of considerable expense. By 1910, however, once the popularity of the motor-car was evident, the Divisional Council set about this task as well as macadamising all main roads. A speed restriction of 20 m.p.h. was introduced (10 m.p.h. for side roads) and suitable signs were erected.

Due to the rise in popularity of the motor car in the early 1920s it was decided that a scenic drive along the coast above Muizenberg, St. James and Kalk Bay should be constructed. This formed part of Sir Frederic de Waal’s dream of having an “All Round Cape Peninsula Road”. The drive was completed in 1928 and was named Boyes Drive after Mr George Boyes who for many years (1904 – 1916) was the Resident Magistrate of Simon’s Town. He was a great protagonist for the development of the scenic drive from Muizenberg to Kalk Bay, but sadly died in January 1924 soon after construction had started.

This high-level road took four years to build and convicts were the main source of labour. In January 1924 two hundred of them were relocated from the Witsand-Slangkop road to start work at both the Kalk Bay and Muizenberg ends. The drive was officially opened in early 1929 .

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The second event which projected Muizenberg into the limelight was the establishing of a municipality in 1895. Previously only a Village Management Board existed with little authority. Once the Kalk Bay- Muizenberg Municipality was established it could raise loans to undertake capital projects which would be to the benefit of both visitors and local residents. In 1904 the Municipality issued a series of postcards which depicted the Municipal coat of arms as well as various scenes, buildings and facilities which existed in the Municipality at that time.

The postcard below was one of the series that was produced and depicts the Tumbling Bay Storage Reservoir which was part of the Silvermine Reservoir development which, when completed in 1900, brought piped water to Muizenberg for the first time. The Tumbling Bay with fine mesh screens in the chambers was constructed for aeration which helped purify the water. Water-borne sewage followed the development of piped water which greatly improved the hygiene in Muizenberg.

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The coat of arms on these Municipal postcards is a mismatch of hopes and reality. The top left-hand corner shows a sailing fishing boat which is self-explanatory in a fishing village, while the crest of a paschal lamb inserted within the top left corner is that of the De Villiers family – a long established and prominent family from neighbouring Fish Hoek.

p20The top right-hand corner illustrating eight fleurs-de-lis is difficult to explain. These iris flowers which appeared on the former royal arms of France imply Huguenot connotations which in the village of Muizenberg seem misplaced, as is the bunch of grapes which dominate the lower half of the coat of arms. Was there perhaps a hope that the slopes of the Muizenberg mountains might become a wine-producing area similar to that of Franschhoek? It is doubtful as few people had cultivated grapes at this seaside resort and thus the design remains a mystery.

The arum lily in the centre is, however, more obvious as these lilies grew in abundance around the Muizenberg neighbourhood although it was perhaps the first time one was depicted in an heraldic design.
This coat of arms was dispensed with once the Kalk Bay-Muizenberg Municipality and other smaller municipalities joined the Greater City of Cape Town in September 1913.

The third important event which put Muizenberg ‘on the map’ was the purchase, in 1899, of a seaside cottage by the former Cape Premier Cecil Rhodes for health reasons. Rhodes was a highly respected figure and if the cool sea breezes of Muizenberg were good enough for him they were good enough for anyone. The Kalk Bay-Muizenberg Municipality traded on this and it was not long before wealthy mining magnates from the Rand and Kimberley built homes in Muizenberg to escape the hot dusty interior of South Africa.

This was inevitably followed by thousands of middle-class families who rushed to meet and mix with the rich and famous. This heralded the beginning of an unprecedented boom in hotels and houses. The belief that Muizenberg was the healthiest place to be was further enhanced by the British Military who established a Convalescent Camp here during the 1899-1902 Anglo Boer War.

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The Cape Town City Council recognized the necessity for sports facilities in Muizenberg and in 1916 entered into a lease with the Defence Department for the use of the old British Military Camp. Council decided to construct a clubhouse to handle the requirements of a bowling green, three tennis courts and a croquet lawn which they would sub-lease to the Kalk Bay-Muizenberg Sports Club.

Robert Allan of Wynberg was the successful tenderer at £l,773-3-4d for the laying out of these facilities which were opened for play in March 1917. W.H. Delbridge constructed a small thatched roof clubhouse (cost £725), as depicted on the above postcard, which was opened in December 1917. The expected support for the tennis courts and the croquet lawn did not materialise and when the Council purchased the land from the Defence Department in 1929 these were later closed and the area allocated to an additional bowling green while the balance reverted to a public park.

The bowling section, however, did prosper and in October 1937 a new clubhouse through the generosity of Mr A.M. Oxenham replaced the original thatched construction.

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The hotel boom was depicted on many postcards. Visitors to Muizenberg wished to show their friends back home where they were staying and many hotels produced their own postcards through various publishers.

 

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Magor’s Hotel (later the Bay View Hotel)
This hotel was bought by Henry Magor from Ohlssons Breweries in 1902. He named it Magor’s Hotel. It was completely destroyed by fire in 1904 which was started inadvertently by Mrs Magor who was cleaning her gloves in the kitchen with benzine. A strong south-easter was blowing at the time and there was no fire-fighting equipment in the hotel. This fire resulted in the insolvency of Henry Magor. The property was then bought by Frank Stansfeld who rebuilt the hotel in 1905. He renamed it the Bay View Hotel which was the original name before Magor’s purchase from Ohlssons. It closed in the 1970s and was converted into a private residence for the elderly.

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Park Hotel
This hotel opened in 1901 under the proprietorship of J. H. Wood. He experienced financial problems in 1904 and it was placed under curatorship in 1906. It remained the Park Hotel for many years and during both World Wars accommodated convalescent servicemen. Park Hotel’s popularity was enhanced by the modern hydro-baths it offered its patrons.

Its original design included Turkish steam and sun-baths which were under the supervision of a qualified physician and catered for invalids and convalescents. During the Second World War the Union Government took over the hotel and it was used as board and lodgings for troops in transit at the Cape. The S.A.W.A.S. (South African Women’s Auxiliary Service) ran the hotel during this time. Previously the St. John’s Ambulance had used it as a troop convalescent home. After the War the hotel was demolished and Muizenberg Junior School was built on the site in 1948.

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Scowen’s Hotel.

Originally it was known as Hirsch’s Temperance Hotel. This simple, single-storey structure with a corrugated iron roof was bought by Harry Scowen in 1895. He changed the name to Scowen’s Hotel after he had obtained a liquor licence in 1900. He built a bar on street level (see left hand side of hotel) with attractive glass doors. Harry Scowen was Mayor of the Kalk Bay-Muizenberg Municipality on two occasions (April 1901-August 1902, and August 1903-August 1905). He had an extrovert personality, was a ‘hail-fellow-well-met’ character and, needless to say, was a popular hotelier especially as his generous drinking habits at his hotel attracted many sojourners.

His wife was a renowned cook, especially of fish dishes. She was a great favourite of Cecil John Rhodes and he frequently entertained at Scowen’s Hotel when he was Premier of the Cape Colony. In 1901 Harry Scowen demolished the hotel and in its place built a magnificent hotel which he also named Scowen’s Hotel.

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The new hotel, which was completed in 1902, was a fine double-storey structure with an attractive verandah which faced the sea. The hotel comprised of a dining-room capable of seating a hundred people, a drawing-room, a billiard-room and thirty bedrooms, while there was an annex on the south side which ran from the hotel to the Main Road. The annex took the shape of a row of cottages which accommodated fifty guests. Electric lights – the first in Muizenberg – were evident throughout.

The cost of the building and Harry Scowen’s extravagant life-style inevitably led to his downfall and in 1908 he was declared insolvent.

Mr E.H. Jones bought the hotel from Scowen’s insolvent estate and renamed it the Marine Hotel. The Hotel changed hands several times after Jones’ ownership and it continued operating as an hotel until it was sold while under the proprietorship of Mr Harry Daitsh. It was subsequently demolished and the Shoprite Centre now occupies the site.

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The Muizenberg Hotel.
This was one of the first double storey buildings in Muizenberg. It stood parallel to the railway line on the mountainside of what is today a car park alongside the Muizenberg Post Office. It was one of the best-known of all the local hotels. It was built in the early 1890s and in May 1900 it advertised in the Wynberg Times that it had, due to popular demand, “recently enlarged the entire premises and was now one of the most commodious hotels in the Peninsula”.

The billiard-room facilities at the hotel were of the highest order and many billiard tournaments were held here.The hotel changed owners several times and was once named Lawson’s Hotel. It was rebuilt in 1929 while under the ownership of Ohlssons Cape Breweries. It was demolished in 1963 and the site converted into a car park.

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The Grand Hotel.
Originally the site of the famous roadside inn “Farmer Pecks”, it was sold by the then owner Isidore Hirsch in 1895 to Charles King. It was then known as Farmer Peck’s Hotel. In 1902 it was bought by Messrs. Winfield and Kendrick who did major alterations and improvements. They named it the Grand Hotel and for many years it was run by a Mr Sauerlander. It closed in the 1960s and the Cinnabar Building now occupies the site.

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The Ocean View Hotel.
This was a private hotel built in 1912. It originally had a most attractive verandah and was designed in a Tudor-style architecture with dormer windows. Well-known grocers, Bennett and Baker, occupied the ground floor. In 1914 considerable alterations were undertaken. The hotel lasted until the 1950s after which it was demolished and a large block of flats ‘Cape Sands’ now occupies the site.

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The Alexandra Hotel.
Built in 1908 it was an hotel for the lower income families where father, mother, grandparents, children et al booked into a room. All baths, showers and toilet facilities were at the end of each passageway. It offered reasonably low rates but hot water was at a premium, if available at all. The modus operandi was entirely different from other prominent Muizenberg hotels and no billiards, good wines, spirits, beer or cigars were on offer.

The hotel was right on the beach front opposite the first wooden pavilion, and it must have been one of the finest sites of any beach hotel in South Africa. It was a constant hive of activity in the summer months. Sand, wind and hundreds of children in bathing costumes, running wild, did little to attract the elite. Its popularity, however, never waned because of its unique appeal – a cheap family hotel on the beachfront, but in 1964 it was razed to the ground by a huge fire. It was never rebuilt, and today remains a vacant site.

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Along the Main Road from the Railway Station to St. James.

This section of Muizenberg is of considerable historic significance and was the subject of many postcards. After the Posthuys, which is by far the oldest structure in Muizenberg (built c 1740 as a policing post to prevent illegal trading between farmers of the Cape and the ships in False Bay) lies the Old Post Office, a National Monument proclaimed 27 October 1991. It was built in 1911 and is now part of the Police Museum. It was here that the first airmail postage in South Africa was received after Evelyn (‘Bok’) Driver flew specially prepared postcards from Kenilworth to Oldham’s Field in Muizenberg, whereafter they were stamped on 27 December 1911 by the local postmaster Mr J.P. Hutchings. The flying time from Kenilworth to Muizenberg was 7.5 minutes. This event marked the first airmail postage in South Africa.

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The South West Corner.
This section of Muizenberg is steeped in history for it was here the Dutch (1652-1795) built the Posthuys (c. 1740), and in 1789 a powder magazine on the seaside of the ‘hard’ road opposite the Posthuys. Later a battery and breastworks (low temporary defensive walls or parapets) were constructed here to defend the Cape from the First British Occupation of 1795.

Along this short route there are no less than eight National Monuments. These are the Posthuys, the Old Post Office, the Old Carnegie Library, Natale Labia’s home “The Fort”, “Canty Bay House”, “Knight’s Villa”, Rhodes Cottage and Long Cottage. Other buildings of historic interest are “Yokahama”, a papier-mache house built c. 1906 by Mrs Grace Tozer, and “Bailey’s Cottage”, the only house on the seaside of the railway line. It was designed by Baker and Masey and was built in 1909, four years after the palatial “Rust-en-Vrede”, which is near opposite the cottage, was completed.

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The Carnegie Library, a National Monument proclaimed 27 December 1991, and now a Police Museum was built alongside the Post Office on the site of the old Muizenberg toll-gate. Designed by architects Cowin and Lyon it featured a cupola which has now been reconstructed, after removal, on the current Police Museum. The library was opened in April 1910 by the Colonial Secretary, the Honourable (later Sir) Frederic de Waal.

Funds for the construction were received from the Andrew Carnegie Trust. Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) came to America in 1848 from Scotland at the age of 12. He had no money and little education. He used the public library to educate himself and after becoming a multi-millionaire through his vast steel interests he established his trust with the ambition of building public libraries in all English speaking countries.

From a young man earning 1.2 dollars per week to fifty years later giving away a third of a billion dollars of his own money, he was a legend in his lifetime.

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The Cape Mounted Police Station was sited behind the library while to the south of the library lay “The Fort,” a pavilion-roofed bungalow, which was built in the late 1890s on the site of an old military battery. It was demolished in 1928 to make way for Count Labia’s palatial home (National Monument, 11 May 1984) which was designed by Architect Fred Glennie. This new home was known by the original name “The Fort” and was the official residence for Italy’s diplomatic representative to South Africa, Prince Natale Labia during the 1930s.

Prince Labia died in 1936 and his widow, Princess Labia a daughter of mining magnate J.B. Robinson, lived here until she passed away in 1961. Thereafter “The Fort” served as the Canadian and Argentinian embassies. It was donated to the State and opened as the Natale Labia Museum in 1988. As a satellite gallery of the South African National Gallery it houses many fine works of art.

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To the south of “The Fort” along the Main Road stand two buildings. The first is “Canty Bay House”, which was built of local mountain quarry stone. This late Victorian-styled building was constructed c. 1890. The front bay and verandah were added in 1899 when owned by a Mr Jenkinson. The building alongside is “Knight’s Villa”. It was designed by architect George Ransome for Mr Clifford Knight, a partner in the firm Thomson, Watson and Co.

Ransome’s design was based on that of a Venetian palazzo where the ground floor would have been at water level. This building as well as “Canty Bay House” were proclaimed National Monuments on 11 May 1984. Why Ransome chose this Venetian style is unclear other than that he was greatly influenced by Italian Renaissance architecture when he had travelled Europe while studying as a student. Hillel College operated from these premises in the 1930s after which Princess Labia bought the building as she preferred not to have neighbours peering into her house.

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Further along the road at the first bend lay the Old Wesleyan-Methodist Church. Built in 1900 of local mountain quarry stone the site proved unsatisfactory as it was too distant from the centre of Muizenberg while the noise of the traffic and the passing trains caused much irritation to the congregation. Despite the distance and the irritations of noise, the church remained the centre of worship here until the end of the 1920s when the inability to extend the premises finally forced the church council to agree to sell the ground and move.

No land was available alongside the church on which to build a much needed hall and school room. The congregation moved to a church hall in Marchmont Road in 1930. The old church building was eventually demolished in the late 1960s when it was the property of the Alfred Milner Masonic Lodge. They sold the ground to the City Council who converted the site into a car park.

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Moving south along the road after taking the bend and climbing a small hill we find the palatial home “Rust-en-Vrede”. It was originally designed by Sir Herbert Baker as a residence for Cecil John Rhodes but he died prior to construction.

Sir Abe Bailey bought the site from Rhodes’ deceased estate and built the home as Baker had designed it and in strict accordance with Rhodes’ request that Baker practised architectural restraint. The construction of “Rust-en-Vrede” was undertaken by local builder R. H. Morris whose company later became one of the leading construction companies in Cape Town.

Morris completed the building in early 1905 and the fine interior and exterior teak woodwork was an outstanding feature of Baker’s design. Simplicity of line is to be seen everywhere in the crisp outlines of the gables and square chimneys which deviated from Baker’s style for the larger houses he designed in the Transvaal.

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To the south of “Rust-en-Vrede” was Rhodes Cottage, which was one of the first buildings to be proclaimed a National Monument in South Africa (proclaimed 4 February 1938). It was here that Cecil Rhodes died on 26 March 1902.

He had bought the cottage in 1899 from the widow of the late James Robertson Reid. It had been originally built as a thatched roof cottage but had been changed to corrugated iron with dormer windows prior to Rhodes’ purchase. Circa 1904 the roof was raised and the corrugated iron was replaced with thatch.

The two front dormer windows were removed, although the back dormer window remained. In April 1921 the cottage was partially destroyed by a huge mountain fire and, but for the presence of the fire brigade who were on their way to another call, it would have been razed to the ground. De Beers Consolidated Mines revamped and redecorated the cottage in 1988 to mark the centenary of the company and today it is a Museum staffed by the Muizenberg Historical Society.

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This vertical postcard of Rhodes Cottage is considered to be rare among postcard collectors. After Rhodes’ death in March 1902 the cottage was left in the care of his personal body servant Tony Delacrax until 1904. Thereafter the roof was altered and the cottage was boarded up until 1932 after which it was handed over to the Northern Rhodesian Government as a rest and recreational home for their civil servants.

In 1937 it was handed over to the Cape Town City Council and in 1953 was converted into a museum. It was opened that year by the Mayor of Cape Town, Mr Fritz Sonnenberg, and remains a museum to this day.

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The Kalk Bay-Muizenberg Municipality was formed in 1895 and lasted until 1913 whereafter it was incorporated with other smaller municipalities into the Greater City of Cape Town. The Kalk Bay-Muizenberg Municipality was a most successful enterprise. In 1895 the fledging Municipality had a rates revenue of £994.

By 1913 this figure had risen to over £12,000. In these 18 years the Municipality had brought to Muizenberg piped water, water-borne sewage, electricity, kerbed and guttered streets, a beach pavilion and bathing boxes, a library, a public school, a proper voter’s roll as well as controlling the huge increase in hotels and houses as Muizenberg transformed itself from a fishing village into the premier holiday resort in South Africa.

There were a total of eleven mayors elected and they, with their councillors, undertook a dedicated service which involved much time and thought with no personal reward or self-interest. This was greatly appreciated by both residents and visitors.

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The sub-title to the postcard above is confusing as the cottage in which Cecil Rhodes died is marked with an X. This appeared on all the postcards after the publishers realized the confusion the sub-tide would have caused. The prominent cottage depicted on this postcard is in fact “Long Cottage”, a National Monument proclaimed 23 December 1988.

It is one of the earliest structures along the Main Road and its construction has been linked to an American whalerman in the early 1800s. The presence of American whalermen was not uncommon at the Cape in the early 1800s as whaling attracted many of them to stay here before setting off for long spells in the Antarctic. The cottage is built of local stone and clay.

It was known as “Barkly Cottage” for near a century (1872 – 1964) as it had been the seaside house in 1872 of the then Governor of the Cape Colony, Sir Henry Barkly.

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Another development with the growth of Muizenberg was the establishment of a public school.
The first Muizenberg Public School was at the top of what was later School Road. It remained here for 79 years until it moved to new premises and the Police Station took over the old school building.

The original building was a simple wood-and-iron structure designed by architect George Ransome. It consisted of two classrooms, a teacher’s room and separate toilets at the back of the building. It was opened in April 1899. A library was added in 1900.

This school building lasted until 1912. By this time it had become totally inadequate and in July 1913 a permanent double storey stone building was opened below the original wood-and-iron school building. It was designed by architects Lyon and Fallan and housed six classrooms for all pupils between kindergarten and Standard Five.

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Artists on Postcards
Dennis Edwards was an active artist from 1899 to 1918 and besides his postcards which were titled the South African Union Series, he undertook sketch work for The Graphic and the literary essay To the Transvaal Goldfields via Natal which he completed in November 1889.

He exhibited regularly in South Africa after 1900, although he was more an amateur than a full-time professional artist. Besides the above postcard his only other known postcard of Muizenberg was of a small fishing row-boat on the dunes entitled On Muizenberg Sands.

His most renowned painting of this area was, however, Kalk Bay Harbour which he painted in 1916. It showed the breakwater under construction with a large crane in operation, and is regarded as historically significant.

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George William Pilkington (1879-1958) was always interested in art and his first public exposure was in 1904 when he painted a series of humorous postcards of life in Cape Town (one of which is depicted above). They were very popular at the time. Pilkington went on in his later life to specialise in marine paintings and two of his works West Towage and Kalk Bay Harbour were hung at Burlington House, London, by the Royal Academy of Art.

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One of a set of six Denis Santry postcards, “The Muizenberg Girl” from his “Cape Girl” series which was very popular at the turn of the century. Denis Santry was born in Cork, Ireland, in 1879. He practised as an architect and civil engineer in Cape Town and later worked as a cartoonist on the Rand Daily Mail and Sunday Times until 1917 when he left South Africa for Singapore. He died in Durban in 1960.

The six postcards in the series are: The Wynberg, Muizenberg, Kenilworth, Newlands, Adderley Street and Sea Point Girls.

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Comments

  1. How generous to share your beautiful book on line, dear Mike – regards Hedy

  2. Alison Muller says:

    Thank you Mike xxx

  3. martineself@gmail.com says:

    so interesting, thank you

  4. Malcolm Navias says:

    Thank you, thank you. It is wonderful.

  5. Thanks

  6. Marilyn Ede says:

    What a fantastic read…..my Dad’s family ran the Alexander Hotel in the 50′s and vaguely remember going as a child to play but my best memories of Muizenberg are growing up as a kid and swimming and surfing at the beach. We lived on the Row from 1951 till I left home and married my Muizies sweetheart and now spend most weekends at the Berg either walking or swimming weather depending. My heart is still in Muizies and hopefully in the near future will find myself a little place to stay and put down ( back ) my roots.

  7. cecil frankal says:

    Wonderful memories, going back well before my time. I grew up with Ryno Greenwall, although he was a contemporary of my older brother. He had an electric train set that kept us fascinated for as long as we were allowed to be there.

  8. Dennis Walder says:

    Wonderful images and some historical reflections which prompted many memories. My father Jean Walder ran the Grand Hotel with my mother during and for a few years after WW2, and then their chef Emile Buhler took it over for a few years before its demise. I am writing up my memories of childhood.

  9. Cheryl Podd-Thompson says:

    I believe my grandparents Alfred and Florence Barnes-Podd ran The Marine Hotel, Muizenberg during the WW2 years, he had been the Master Brewer at Ohllsons on the Mariendahl Farm but lost his job due to trying to force his personal new Brew on them. He went to work for Schweppes and travelled SA whilst his wife ran The Marine Hotel. Does anyone remember anything here ?? Cheryl

  10. Hans Potgieter says:

    Lovely place to stay. We moved from the north (Gauteng) to Muizenberg in 2001 and are still on holiday or at least it feels like that.

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