Then & Now is a collection of past and present, before and after photos taken on the Cape Point Route. Thanks to those who submitted images and to the Town Museums of the south peninsula who collate, archive and preserve many of these images amongst other artifacts and exhibitions- visit and support them to preserve the history of the area. Enjoy memory lane!
We would love to build on this collection so please feel free to submit your own then and now photos for sharing by emailing your images to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The original lighthouse was built in 1859 on Da Gama Peak, the summit of Cape Point, 249m above sea level. It still stands here and is now used as a centralized monitoring point for all the lighthouses in South Africa. It was decommissioned in 1919 in favour of the new lower lighthouse which was more visible when thick mist and fog obscured the light flashes. The newer lighthouse, built in 1914, is the most powerful on the South African coast. It emits three flashes in a group every 30 seconds and revolves.
The “terminus” at Cape Point serves as the end of the road at the SW tip of Africa. In the 1920’s cars stopped at the base of the hill going up to the lighthouse. Today there is a large parking area and ticket office for the Flying Dutchman funicular, plus the Logo Store and the Two Oceans Restaurant! A far cry from the early days!
Slangkoppunt Lighthouse in Kommetjie, is the tallest cast iron lighthouse in South Africa and has been burning brightly since 1914 when it was commissioned by the then Governor of the Cape to safeguard against shipwrecks on the rocky shore. It emits four flashes every 30 seconds.
The SS Kakapo was stranded in 1900 on Noordhoek Beach. Captain Nicolayson mistook Chapman’s Peak for Cape Point in bad weather conditions (there was no lighthouse at Slangkoppunt at that stage) and turned sharp left – only to land on Noordhoek beach, where her remains rest today! It is a lovely walk to the wreck along Noordhoek Beach.
Chapman’s Peak Drive opened to the public on 6 May 1922 – it was originally known as the Hout Bay-Noorde Hoek road and was of strategic importance to business, local residents and tourism. This scenic Cape Town route is now a toll-road and a popular tourist attraction on the Cape Point Route.
Chapman’s Peak Drive starts at the picturesque fishing harbour of Hout Bay and the climb winds steeply up to Chapman’s Point, where there is a view point overlooking Hout Bay.
Despite Chapman’s Peak Drive’s spectacular views and extraordinary beauty, the drive is not without danger, as rock falls and mudslides have always been a hazard for motorists -particular during storms in winter. Four deaths and several serious injuries resulted from rock fall incidents between 1998 and its closure as a public road in January 2000, until suitable rock-fall protections measures had been implemented. Project engineers constructed a 40m long curved cantilever canopy, arching over both lanes on a tight bend at the confluence of three gullies as a rock-fall protection measure.
For those who prefer being on two feet, the hike to the top of Chapman’s Peak itself offers amazing views of the Atlantic Ocean, Hout Bay, Fish Hoek, Gordon’s Bay and a stunning mountain range. At a height of 593 metres at its highest point the steep cliffs falling into the sea seem unassailable. However there are 2 routes to the peak. One from the Noordhoek side of the peak and one from the Hout Bay side. The route is moderate and takes about 3 hours with time for a picnic at the top!
The bronze leopard sculpture in Hout Bay was sculptured by Ivan Milford-Barberton. Completed in 1963, it was placed on its pedestal on 14th March that year by the Divisional Council. The sculpture is a memorial to the many wild animals that once roamed the mountains of the peninsula. The last leopard seen in Hout Bay was in 1937 on Little Lion’s Head.
Chapman’s Peak Hotel has been a landmark in Hout Bay since the early 1900s, when on completion it became the pride of the local community. Originally known as the Beach Hotel, it was renamed The Chapmans Peak Hotel in 1961 when the owners decided, due to the popularity of Chapman’s Peak Drive the new name would be more appropriate. Many tourists stop to quench their thirst and enjoy a meal or stay the night – even today!
Mariner’s Wharf; situated at the entrance to Hout Bay’s historic harbour, is Africa’s very first harbourfront emporium. Following upon its official opening by the Minister of Tourism and Environmental Affairs in November 1984, it is also correct to refer to Mariner’s Wharf as South Africa’s pioneering waterfront emporium, because developments at Cape Town’s V&A and other harbours only happened as a consequence of, and subsequent to its resounding success. Hout Bay’s fascinating history with the sea has been preserved for posterity and with thousands of maritime artifacts worked into Mariner’s Wharf’s décor, it is a remarkable showcase of the area and its history.
Trek Fishing is an old fashioned style of fishing where the fishermen haul their net in by hand as they have done for centuries. You’ll usually see seagulls flapping excitedly and a crowd gathering – many jump in to help the trek fishermen haul their bulging nets – it can take up to an hour and is an amazing feat. The trek fisherman can be still be seen in Hout Bay and Fish Hoek and are fabulous photographic moments too! Hout Bay is still an active fishing harbour and fishing is a popular activity.
Hout Bay Beach is a long sandy beach which is ideal for swimming and water sports like sea kayaking, sailing, fishing and surfing. You will see locals walking their dogs, riding horses and families playing at the waters edge as they have done for years!
The views of the sociable village Hout Bay are mesmerizing as it is set in a fold of sea-lapped mountains that look out across the Atlantic Ocean. The town is presided over by the Sentinel – guardian of Hout Bay’s treasures.
Snoekies is a Hout Bay Institution! The story involves a young Polish boy, Hans Mickeleit, who boarded a freighter bound for Japan in 1939 but was detained in Durban when World War II was declared. At the end of the war he decided to visit Cape Town where he fell in love with the port village of Hout Bay and immediately arranged for his family to emigrate. Hans’s purchased an old bus, which he converted into a takeaway cafe and positioned it at the end of Harbour Road, Hout Bay. They named the take-away cafe, Snoekies from where they served fish & chips to the local fishermen. Before long they found it difficult to keep up with the demand from their garage at home and in 1956 he built a factory in the Hout Bay Harbour.
Roman Rock Lighthouse is located in False Bay near the entrance to Simon’s Town harbour. It is the only lighthouse on the South African coastline to be built on a rock and is a distinctive symbol of Simon’s Town and False Bay with varying moods! The lighthouse was installed in Sept 1861 after 4 years of construction. It was manned in 7 day shifts but when gas light was installed in 1914 it has became unmanned.
Simon’s Town was originally named Simon’s Vlek after Simon van der Stel, the Dutch governor of the Cape Colony between 1677 and 1699, who earmarked it as a safe winter harbour during the months of May to September for which it was finally proclaimed in 1741. Progress may have come slowly to Simon’s Town, but the town grew rapidly when it became a Royal Naval Base and the home of the South Atlantic Squadron under the second British occupation of the Cape in 1806. The town was handed over to the South African Navy in 1957. St George’s Street, is known as the historical mile and 21 of the buildings are over 150 years old. A stroll along the little cobbled roads to explore restored, old cottages and houses is a delight and there are a number of shops, restaurants and coffee shops as well as 4 museums.
Getting to Simon’s Town today is easy and affordable on the train. The Cape Town – Simon’s Town line is not the oldest in South Africa, however work began on the section to Wynberg in December 1864. The train line was extended to Muizenberg in 1882 and in 1889 work began to take the line through to Simon’s Town. The Steep and rocky coast, quicksands and river mouths had made it difficult to build even a road between Kalk Bay and Simon’s Town and the journey by cart or wagon was so arduous that much traffic went by boat instead. The completion of the line on 1 December 1890 was therefore a celebrated event. The honours were done by Cecil Rhodes – then Premier of the Cape – who rode in the first train which arrived in a bunting bedecked Simon’s Town.
At the edge of Simon’s Town is the hidden gem of Glencairn. Often overlooked for more exciting destinations, this mountainous village and valley has a great family beach in addition to a well cared for wetlands area.
Locals and visitors congregate at the Glencairn strip which is a popular meeting spot due to the restaurants and bars which overlook the wetlands and the beach. Today the Glencairn Hotel is run as the Glen Lodge.
Fish Hoek is a seaside village surrounded by rugged mountains and boasts one of the safest swimming beaches in Cape Town. Fish Hoek is a glorious bay with a beautiful white sandy beach, with colourful Victorian bathing boxes that add a festive flavour. The beach is a favourite with wind surfers, lifesavers and hobie cat sailers. Visitors will mingle with the locals who swim and walk their dogs on the accessible beach or stroll along the catwalk which heads southwards to Sunny Cove.
The village of Kalk Bay was probably established in the 17th century as a small community of lime-burners who used kilns to extract lime from the sea shell deposits for use in the construction of buildings. mined the nearby deposits of limestone. Its name was derived from the Dutch term for lime. In 1795 the Dutch located a small military outpost here, and after 1806 it began to flourish as a fishing village and whaling station.
In the 1840′s a Philippine ship was wrecked off Cape Point and many of the sailors settled in Kalk Bay adding to the small fishing community that had developed. These Philippine settlers were Catholic and had to row by boat to Simon’s Town for mass leading in 1858 to the St James Catholic Church being built nearby and of course giving the name to the area next to Kalk Bay in later years.
The Filipino population of Kalk Bay was further augmented when many emancipated slaves at the Cape who originated from Batavia, Java and Malaysia joined the community at Kalk Bay. Fishing was their life-skill and it was not long before they played an important role in the community.
Kalk Bay has one of the last remaining working harbours in South Africa with a fishing community proud of their heritage. It is a community has remained intact throughout South Africa’s turbulent history, the only place in the country where all residents successfully opposed the Group Areas Act of the 1960s. Fishing still operates today although it is more low -key.
The life of the Kalk Bay fishermen was particularly harsh. The strain of rowing, hauling the boats above the high water mark on returning from fishing and the carrying of loads of sand ballast took a heavy toll on the fisherman. In 1890 their problems were further exacerbated when the railways built a stone viaduct through the heart of Fishery Beach. This formed a barrier between the sea and the high ground and many fishing boats were smashed against the viaduct especially in stormy weather.
The inevitable result of these problems resulted in the building of a breakwater, which was started in 1913 and completed in March 1919. Heavy winter swells and “Black” South-easters still cause dangerous seas in Kalk Bay.
St James, which stretches only 1.5 km, is a suburb which is steeped in history. Some of the houses were already in existence in 1883, and most had thatched rooves and were built of stone, plaster and limestone. Colourful Victorian bathing boxes are the trademark of St James and the start of grand stone houses that line the road to Muizenberg.
One of these houses is the enchanting and luxurious Villa St James – an historical national monument built in 1919 in St James, Cape Town. It was once home to the British admiralty; the Greek royal family and League of Nations founder Jan Smuts. St James was the first resort area developed by the British in the early 1900’s due to its balmy year round climate, Mediterranean sunshine and warm sea making this 8 bedroomed home the perfect holiday getaway or magnificent venue for celebrations.
In 1670 The Dutch East India Company established Muizenberg as a cattle farm, From 1743, the area became one of the first military outposts under the command of Sergeant Wynand Muys, from whom Muizenberg got it’s name.
Overlooking the beach is the teak clocktower of the imposing red-brick railway stationhouse, built in 1913, which marks the start of Muizenberg’s Historical Mile along Main Road. It was the extension of the railway line from Wynberg in 1822 that stimulated the area’s development as a seaside resort.
Muizenberg was once South Africa’s premier seaside resort, where the rich and famous built their holiday homes. A colourful row of bathing boxes serves mainly as a picturesque tribute to the area’s historical heyday, but also provides an effective windbreak. Behind the beach is the Muizenberg Pavilion, dominated by a red-and-white candy-striped building that many consider an eyesore!
Despite falling out of favour Muizenberg beach remained popular for it’s safe swimming and good surfing. Surfers’ Corner is considered the birthplace of surfing in South Africa – legend has it that a visiting Australian showed the locals how it was done in around 1910. What was formerly known as Neptune’s Corner became Surfers’ Corner. Muizenberg is still the place to learn to surf.
As this picture of the Snakepit in Muizenberg illustrates – the Cape Peninusula has and always will be extremely popular…. We invite you to visit and experience it for yourself. Cape Point Route offers day tours, packages, accommodation, activities and car hire in Cape Town’s south peninsula in addition to teambuilding events in Cape Town. We will happily arrange group activities, transport and extended programmes.
Call 021 782 9356 or visit www.capepointroute.co.za