Tag Archives: history

The Kimberley Hotel in Roeland Street

The Kimberley Hotel in Roeland Street

The Kimberley Hotel is now around 114 years old, and besides being a place frequented by members of parliament - for lunch - it was, for many years, the place from which horse-drawn carts would leave for the town of Kimberley, some 830km north-east of Cape Town (as the crow flies).

P.S. Did you notice Table Mountain hidden, almost from sight, in the background? :)

The Pumphouse

The Pumphouse

Paul mentioned The Pumphouse in a previous post about the V&A Waterfront. Built in 1882, the building originally housed the dynamo that powered the first set of electric lights in the Table Bay Harbour. According to Eskom's website, there were sixteen 2000-candlepower arc lights at first (you can read more about the use of arc lights in the 1800s here - it's pretty fascinating). The Harbour Board's report to the Cape Colonial Parliament for the year 1882 said that the light "... proved of great service, not only in minimising accidents, but in facilitating the working of vessels at night."

More recently, in the 1990s, The Pumphouse was a popular pub and live music venue, one that it seems a lot of people have really fond (if somewhat foggy ;-)) memories of. The reason the building is called The Pumphouse, by the way, is because it contains the pumps used for draining the water out of the Robinson Dry Dock.

Longkloof: a mystery no more

Longkloof in Hout Bay

After reading what Paul had written about Longkloof in the previous post, my immediate thought was, "Pah! How hard can it be to find some information about this historical building? Must be all over the web, surely... he couldn't have googled very well..."

I had to eat my words, of course, after paying a visit to Google. Plenty has been written about Longkloof the area, but I couldn't find anything about this building. I couldn't even find a photograph of it online, which surprised me, because I thought it was a fairly obvious subject for a photo shoot. I'm not one to give up when faced with a mystery, though, so I kept on hunting.

I found this set of notes by Anne Lehmkuhl (definitely worth a read if history fascinates you), from which I was able to deduce that the building was once the wine cellar of the farm Groot Moddergat, and was built somewhere around 1841.

But I wanted to know what the building is NOW. Not content, I kept going, trying a bunch of different search terms, until eventually I struck gold. Or rather... clay. Because, as it turns out, the building now houses... drum roll, please... A POTTERY STUDIO.

It was no easy job to figure that out, let me tell you. And even once I'd worked it out using my superior powers of observation, I still couldn't find a single website to actually verify this information. So how did I know? Well, while Paul was taking photos of the building, I happened to notice the unusual fence adjoining the house, just off to the right of this shot. And when I saw this photo on the Longkloof Pottery site, I recognised the fence and wall immediately.

Now, please don't go knocking on the door and demanding to see the pottery - judging by the lack of information on the web and the lack of signage outside the property, I'm guessing that the talented resident potter, Yogi, would prefer to keep his studio a sanctuary. (And a pretty awesome sanctuary it must be too!) Visit his website to see more of his remarkable work and find out how to contact him.

Longkloof in Hout Bay

Longkloof in Hout Bay

I don't know for certain what this building is, but to me it looks like a homestead built many, many years ago. We discovered it almost by chance while driving down Hout Bay Main Road, from the circle next to Constantia Nek Restaurant towards Hout Bay.

The particular road on which it's located is kinda narrow and there's so much to see that, even though it's right on the roadside, it's easy to miss. I didn't want to scratch around too much, and there didn't seem to be any clues as to what the building was, or had been. Please be so kind as to leave a comment if you know something more about the building, other than that it's found in Longkloof, Hout Bay.

An old car?

On old car

We found this old car on the De Vallei wine farm's grounds. At first I thought that perhaps someone was trying to refurbish it, but on closer inspection I noticed the roll cage inside the cabin and realised that it may be used for stock car racing!

When I was in school, friends often spoke excitedly of the stock car races that they'd been to. I've never been to a race, but Kerry-Anne on the other hand seems to have been something of a regular visitor - dragged along to the noisy events at the Goodwood Showground (which no longer exists) by her mom and dad. She swears it was loads of fun.

The Tygerberg Raceway, a proper oval dirt race track, is still in operation and in fact will be hosting a race on 17 October and 7 November this year. Contact details and information about the events seem to be fairly scarce on the web, but if you're interested in attending a race, this page has a contact number that you could call to find out more about dates, times, and cost.

The (strange) auto museum continued…

A baby tank

My previous post about Wijnland Auto Museum featured a photo of something one would expect to see at an "auto museum" - even though the cars in the photo hardly looked like traditional museum pieces...

However, ten metres to the left of the previous photo rested this itty-bitty-baby tank. While awesomely cool, I'm not sure that I'd class a tank in the "auto" category. Its presence in the museum display is more or less like having a high-powered rack of blade servers, or better yet, an IBM mainframe, in an Apple MacBook display. :D

An old, old car at Wijnland Auto Museum

An old, old car

This is the third photo in the set taken in Joostenbergvlakte. (If you've missed the previous two, click here and follow the trail back to them.) We thought we'd take a drive out to this remote suburb to visit the Wijnland Auto Museum - which, from the outside, looks more like a scrap yard, or an auto graveyard.

Sadly, we failed in our objective. We took a quick look around and decided that we'd rather return with a group consisting of other photographers, perhaps, and two or more people dressed up and ready to be models. The museum apparently has one of the largest collections of rare cars in the country, and old (perhaps deceased) cars like these make a great backdrop for a modelling shoot - don't you think?

You'll find the museum by

  • driving along the N1 (with Cape Town at your back)
  • taking exit 34
  • turning right at the first opportunity
  • driving to the end of the road (past the nursery on your right)

Strangely the Wijnland Auto Museum has no website or email address, but they can be contacted by telephone on +27 21 988 4203. The museum is open daily until 16h00 (including Sundays) and charges R50 per person.

Scarborough, a seaside village with charm

Scarborough Sunset

In the previous posts Kerry-Anne told you about a seaside village where a friend of ours owns a beautiful wooden house. Some of you guessed correctly that the little village is Scarborough - well done! This quiet suburb is to the west of Simon's Town, just on the other side of Cape Point. Find it here on the Google Map.

I browsed the web for the word Scarborough and found that this village is not by any means the only place bearing the name. It would seem as though our British friends have indeed been busy - according to Wikipedia there are a plethora of place-names (and other names) containing the word Scarborough, all around the world.

Kristo Pienaar Environmental Education Centre

Kristo Pienaar Environmental Education Centre

The building in the foreground is the Kristo Pienaar Environmental Education Centre, and at the bottom of the pathway you can see the main gate of the Tygerberg Nature Reserve.

Kristo Pienaar was a well-known (and popular) South African botanist, probably most famous for encouraging South African gardeners to make use of indigenous plants in their gardens. He was a multi-talented man, though - some of the best South African reference books on gardening were written by him, he was a university professor, he presented Veld Fokus on SABC's 50/50 (a TV programme that covered all sorts of ecology-related topics) for a few years, and he was even the mayor of Bellville at one stage!

He died in 1996, at the age of 73.

It wasn’t always called Table Mountain

Bushman's Chilli sauce

Before anyone else settled in the Cape, the Khoi and the San (perhaps known more widely as the Bushmen) inhabited the area. Eventually, in 1652, the Dutch East India Company sent Jan van Riebeeck to establish a supply station at the Cape - and I guess this is where the battle for land and rule officially began (at least between Europeans and Africans).

Here's an interesting piece of information that I'm surprised I'd never considered before: before Table Mountain was named as such by the Portuguese admiral António de Saldanha it was known by the native inhabitants as Hoeri ‘kwaggo - or Sea Mountain. Given its location, I guess this makes absolute sense; though I guess at the time António must have misinterpreted his hosts' hand-signs and gesturing.

"Oooohhh... I thought you said taaaayyyyble". :D

Caltex oil refinery in Milnerton

Caltex oil refinery

We've been trying to get a photo of this oil refinery for almost as long as we've been running this blog. Paul's tried while I was driving; I've tried while Paul was driving; I've even tried snapping a shot while stopped at the traffic lights opposite the refinery; but for some reason the angle and light has never been quite right and we've always ended up with a tree in the way, or blurry shots, or a passing car obscuring the subject.

Yes, of course, in theory we could just pull the car off the road and walk back a little way to get a good shot, but the trouble is that we're always (and I mean ALWAYS) in a hurry when we're passing this way. A few days ago we got lucky though, and you can see the result above (this is just a small part of the refinery complex, of course). I'll leave it to you to guess who was doing the driving and who was doing the shooting... ;-)

The refinery was built in the early 1960s and began operations in 1966. Of course, it's been upgraded a few times since then, and according to the Caltex website it "remains one of the largest industrial undertakings in the Western Cape, providing much-needed jobs and economic growth in the area." Unfortunately it also provides a rather unpleasant fragrance, but that's a story for another day...

Cannonfire at the Castle

Half-pounder Canon
A friend of mine, Bennie Vivier, belongs to the Tygerberg Photography Society; the society members visited the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town on an outing - an educational opportunity and a chance to capture some extraordinary photos.

Bennie managed to snap this photo when a member of the Cannon Society fired this half-pounder cannon. I'm surprised not to see the cannonball floating in mid air! :)

Some time ago cannons fell under the Firearms Act, which meant that they were governed by the same restrictions applying to modern firearms. The Cannon Society petitioned the authorities, and to satisfy the South African Police they drew up an official safety handbook, set up a code of conduct, and agreed to training courses for gunners. Today cannons and antique muzzle-loaded firearms have been deregulated and no longer fall under the Firearms Act (although a competency certificate obtained through proper training is required).

National highways and fly-overs

National Highway

I used to have a perfect view of these fly-overs from my classroom when I was in high school. During exam time, we were seated in alphabetical order according to our surnames - this put me right over at the window, which suited me perfectly. I've never been able to sit and do nothing for very long (my record is about 3 minutes, and I was all worn out from the exertion afterwards), so whenever I finished an exam early - which was fairly often - I'd have to invent elaborate mental games to keep myself from going crazy with boredom.

These fly-overs over the N1 were a godsend, as you can imagine, because they meant I could keep busy by counting cars. I would keep a tally of how many cars of a certain colour went past in each direction, how many trucks went past, how many motorbikes, and so on. Yes children, when we were young, back in the olden days, we didn't have fancy computer games or iPhone apps - we had to make our own fun.

Talking about fun, the latest episode of The Digital Edge podcast is available - download it here. (The Digital Edge is South Africa's best podcast, and I'm totally biased, because I'm in it.)

The first Governor was coloured?

Simonsig Wine

Simonsig, the wine estate that produces these bottles of wine, is named after the first Governor of Cape Town (then called the Cape of Good Hope), Simon van der Stel.

Van der Stel became Commander at the Cape in 1679, after which he was promoted to be the first Governor of the Cape in 1691. The interesting fact that I learned only today (and something that our apartheid history books conveniently ignored) was that while his father was Dutch, Simon's mother was Indian (in fact a freed slave woman), meaning that he and a large part of Cape Town's population have more in common that I'd previously realised. :)

Freedom Day – 15 years on

Robben Island sunset

The 27th of April is Freedom Day in South Africa. This public holiday marks the start of our first democratic elections in 1994 (the elections were held over 3 days). I wasn't old enough to vote back then (I turned 18 two and a half months later), but I remember that day so clearly. There was an incredible sense of excitement, and news broadcasts showed images of long voting queues snaking their way through dusty township streets, and elderly black people tearfully telling reporters how it felt to finally be able to vote for the first time at the age of 80 or 90. Got to admit, I still get teary thinking about it.

We held our 4th general election last week, and for the first time since 1994 there was a similar sense of excitement and optimism. And it didn't seem to matter who you were voting for either (just as it didn't matter much in 1994) - everyone seemed enthusiastic, and it felt good to be united as a nation in a common activity. Despite all the controversy surrounding our president-elect Jacob Zuma, I think there is a lot of optimism right now amongst people of all political persuasions. It's a fresh start, and a change, and perhaps that's the most important thing for our teenage nation right now.

I found this photo in our archives; it's a month or two old, but I thought it would be fitting to post a photo of the sun setting behind Robben Island to mark Freedom Day.

Coffee from a bygone era

Raadsaal Coffee

To be honest, I've never seen this brand of coffee before, but I'd bet that if I asked my parents they would remember it from many years ago... possibly before I was even born!

The word "Raadsaal" means "Council Hall" if you translate it directly... which I guess is an odd name for a brand of coffee. Strangely, if you zoom in you'll be able to read that the manufacturer of this traditional-Afrikaans-sounding coffee brand is an old British company, "Brooke Bond Tea & Coffee Co".

This aside, the funniest part of this poster is the phrase "Sterk Koffie!", which means "Strong Coffee!". If you zoom in you'll notice that the coffee consists of 62.5% chicory and only 37.5% real coffee... which, in my opinion, isn't very strong at all! :)