21 November 2008


One of the original Fish Hoek mountainside homes was recently put up for sale at R3.3 million. It was one of the first two homes (the other is next door) in the suburb to be declared a national monument. The Government Gazette of 16 July 1982 shows that the original portions of the two cottages dated from 1919. The two properties originally formed part of the farm owned by K.S. DE VILLIERS, a local land baron who died in 1916. The property was subdivided into lots to form the suburb now known as Fish Hoek. The home on sale (the original cottage) has Elsie's Peak as a backdrop and the front facade faces the sea and views of False Bay. The original cottage was sold to Jacob Walter Charles DE SMIDT in March 1919. The home still has many original features, including some of the wooden floors and a recessed cupboard with lead-paned doors in the dining room, thick walls in some places and gables typical of the period in which it was built. On the outside there are two wine cellars under the original veranda.

Fish Hoek or Vissers Baay or Visch Hoek appears on the earliest maps of the Cape. The first grant of Crown Land in Fish Hoek was granted to Andreas BRUINS in 1818. The land was sold several times before being bought by Hester Sophia DE KOCK in 1883, a 51 year old spinster. In 1901 she married a local farmer, Jacob Izaak DE VILLIERS, who moved in with her. She opened her home as a guest house. She also farmed wheat and vegetables. She left instructions in her will that the farm was to be surveyed and the land sold as building plots. After the deaths of Hester and Jacob, the land was sold off, the first sale taking place in 1918. Hester died on 09 Oct 1914. Jacob died in 1916. They are buried in the small graveyard next to the NG Kerk in Kommetjie Road. Initially people built holiday cottages but as the train service to Cape Town was reliable, a more permanent community soon arose. In 1940 it was declared a municipality. The farmhouse on the site of the present Homestead Naval Mess near the railway crossing became an hotel. The original building, known as The Homestead, belonged to the de Villiers family. It burned down in 1947.

The other oldest house is named Uitkyk. It was bought as a fisherman's cottage in 1918 by the MOSSOP family of Mossop Leathers, and is still in the family. There had been a building on that site since the 1690s - a Pos Huis and a whaling station office.

Fish Hoek is well-known for not having liquor stores. This was due to the clause written in the 1818 land grant giving the land to Andreas BRUINS. The clause stated that there should be no public wine house on the property. This clause was introduced when wagon deliveries to Simon’s Town were common and it served to prevent the drivers from stopping off for a drink (or two or three) and arriving in an intoxicated state in Simon’s Town. The clause was carried on through the years, with residents opposing any planned liquor stores. In 1956, after having opposed many license applications they formed an association called The Defenders of Fish Hoek. They succeeded in getting the Liquor Act amended so that no further applications would be allowed. Under South Africa's new Constitution the Act fell away and after consultation with the local Magistrate residents voted for restaurant and bar licenses only.


Durban's 127 year old Jumma Musjid mosque was founded in the early 1880s when Aboobaker Amod (Jhaveri), said to be the first Indian trader to arrive in Natal in 1874, purchased a site, Sub A of Block BB, in Durban. Lot B of Block BB was bought later, as well as Lot D of Block BB, according to the Deeds Office. Today, Jumma Musjid is the largest mosque in the southern hemisphere, accommodating 7000 worshippers. The mosque has also been declared a national heritage building.


The old mill at Reichenau Mission, on the Polela River near Bulwer, will soon be in action again, thanks to a few engineers. The mill was built by Trappist monks in about 1896. It was driven by an axial-flow, multi-bladed turbine. In the floods of 1987, the turbinwe was partially destroyed. Over time, the mill became derelict. A Durban man, Peter FROW, a former Eskom engineer, saw the mill when his wife, Jill, ran a literacy group in the area. He contacted other retired Eskom employees Colin HEALEY and Chris BROWN, retired university technician Mike SMITH, and former Melmoth farmer Gavin CHANDLER, to help with restoring the mill. The South African Air Force airlifted the turbine from the mill, placing it on a truck to a Pinetown workshop. Several businesses contributed funds. When operational, the turbine will provide 40kw. On 15 December the Air Force will transport the turbine back to its home.


Did you know that 007 James BOND was once a genealogist? In the 1969 film, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Bond (played by George LAZENBY), poses as a genealogist.


The National Library in Cape Town has a collection of 43 catalogued old portraits of black South Africans, the Grey Ethnological Album. They were taken in South Africa and Botswana by a German anthropologist, Gustav Theodor FRITSCH (1838–1927), for two books that he wrote - "Drie Jahre in Sud-Afrika. Reise-skizzen nach Notizen des Tagesbuchs zusammengestellt (Three Years in South Africa: Travel sketches compiled from notes in a journal), published in 1868, and "Die Eingeborenen Sud-Afrika’s ethnogtaphiseh und anatomisch beschreiben (The Natives of South Africa anatomically and ethnographically described), published in 1872. He left Germany in 1863 and spent three years in southern Africa. Not only was he a physician and anthropologist, but also a photographer.

The collection was discovered by Prof. Keith DIETRICH of Stellenbosch University while working on his doctorate in the 1990s, researching South African travel illustrations from the 16th to 19th centuries. He eventually found six albums at the Berlin Museum, where he scanned them onto 36 CDs. This work was put on display recently at the Sasol Art Museum in Stellenbosch. The 220 portraits that were found feature 113 individuals. The exhibition is also now available in a book - An Eloquent Picture Gallery: the SA Portrait Photographs of Gustav Theodor Fritsch, 1863-1865, published by Jacana Media.