Glencairn, the early years

Glencairn, the early years

Glencairn and the Else (also referred to as Els) river valley are located on the coast of False Bay, between Fish Hoek and Simon’s Town.

In 1743 the Dutch East India Company established an official station and anchorage at Simonstown. An early map, drawn in 1870, shows the course of the river which was originally known as the “Elze Rivier” (Burman 1962). Throughout the early days of the Cape settlement, Else Bay (Glencairn beach) was mainly known as the last hazard on the difficult road to Simon’s Town, and other than a few fisherman who trekked from the beach, it was little disturbed – Tredgold (1985)

In 1811 the farm Elsje’s River was granted to Christoffel Brand, its main product being vegetables. Another farm called Elsje’s Baai was operated as a tannery. There is no mention at this time of the earlier farm Hartenbosch which was located in the area now known as Da Gama. Further up the valley was the farm Brooklands, which was where the water treatment facilities are now located. – Tredgold (1985)

Welcome Farm incorporated the Welcome Glen suburb and Naval Sports Fields. At Welcome Farm there was a mill to which farmers brought their corn to be ground. The farms raised cattle and grew vegetables – Tredgold (1985)

First resident, John Brown and his family settled in Elsje’s Bay in about 1875 – Tredgold (1985)

In the 1890s Stegman built his beach house on the Glencairn Heights side of the valley – Tredgold (1985)

The Glencairn residents built a tennis court in 1922 – Tredgold (1985)

In the 1920s the tidal pool was built – Tredgold (1985)

Glen Farm bought between the wars by W G Haines – Tredgold (1985)

Glen Cottage, 36 Glen Rd was used as Rest & Recreation by the military during the Boer War

56 plots sold on 23rd November 1901

The foundation stone of the church was laid in 1903, the hotel opened in 1904.

It is not known for certain how the former name of Glencairn, Else Bay, or the name of the Else River originated. Various theories are reviewed by Clifford (2003), favourite being that Rooi Els trees (Cunonia capensis) formerly grew along the river. However, none have been encountered during this study, and attempts by the local community to re-establish these trees in the vlei and lower river areas have largely proven unsuccessful. The second refers to a ship, the Esselstein, which stopped over in Simon’s Bay in 1671. Thereafter Simon’s Bay was referred to as Esselstein Bay, and the Else River as Esselstein River.

Cobern (1984) describes how a probable error in the transcription of maps could have led to the word ‘Elsestein’, the shortened version of which is ‘Else’. He further suggests that the careless translation of ‘Else Rivere’ from Dutch to French and finally to English, ‘Else’s River’, could have led to the further error, perpetuated to this day, of referring to Elsies River and Elsies Peak. Else Bay was later renamed Glencairn by its early Scottish residents, after the Glencairn area in the North of Scotland – (Clifford 2003).

The quarry was opened in 1898 (possibly earlier) adjacent to Main Road and the railway line. The quarry was operated by the Divisional Council and possibly closed between 1914 and 1918. Thereafter Strong and Moore re-equipped the workings and were still operating the quarry when it was closed in May 1978 due to environmental concerns, and appreciation of the tourist potential of the area.

The Cape Glass Company exploited the light grey sands found along the bottom of Glencairn Valley between 1902 and 1906. The industrial remains of the factory now form part of the Simon’s Town Museum’s collection.

The Cape Glass Company bought the railway siding built for the Salt River Cement Company and a narrow gauge cocopan that extended up the valley. The limited literature available on the company suggests that they were mining sand, but Clifford (2003) suggests that they were removing limestone. No evidence of its original presence remains.

Glencairn’s quicksands no longer exist and were stabilized by a change in the river’s discharge conditions caused by the construction of the railway embankment in 1890.

Glen Farm, dating from the 1800s stood where the warden’s house now stands. The de Villiers family lived in Welcome Farm and Glencairn Cottage, the de Villiers cemetery lies behind Glencairn Cottage.

Original farms were: Glen Farm, Welcome Glen, Oaklands and Brooklands

“Welcome Cottage Farm” by Lt Cdr (Mrs) D Visser. (undated) Simonstown Museum Files

Old flour mill with fine stonework and bricks dating from Batavian times1803-1806

Welcome Glen farm Deed of Grant completed in 1811, Welcome Cottage built between 1812 and 1815. it came into the possession of the de Villiers Family in 1871, remaining in the family for over a century. Over the years they produced vegetables, flowers, bark for tanning purposes and latterly, dairy produce. The land was sold to the Navy in 1970, except for 6 morgen on which the cottages stand. They were subsequently expropriated in 1974. Welcome Cottage no. 440 has been slightly altered by the addition of an enclosed stoep and a new roof, but otherwise remains unaltered with yellow wood beams, door and flooring, 5 triangular gables surmounted by pedimental caps.

Brown’s Cottage ca. 1890 possibly 124 Glen Rd.

Stegman’s cottages built in the 1892 by a farmer from Durbanville, who built a beach house at what is now 24 Fairburn Road

Bulletin Volume XIX No.2 Snippets from Old Simon’s Town July 1996

In 1928 there was a private Native Location near the old Glass Works. It consisted of 25 dwellings and a school (pg 37 Glencairn Mission School?). The Health inspector recommended it be closed and it was cleared in 1931.

The squatter-like shack community in what is now Glencairn Heights was associated with the Strong & Moore Quarry. The community was relocated under the Group Areas Act. A Wesslyan Mission School existed there years before, followed by a mission school and church.

From: Roger Jaques’ thesis

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The Fish Hoek Story

The Fish Hoek Story

Author –Joy Cobern

Imagine living in the southern suburbs of Cape Town in the 1870s, where would you go for a day out and how would you get there? There were no cars and horses were expensive to keep unless you needed them for your business. Perhaps you knew someone with a horse and cart so, as a great treat you could go to Muizenberg beach. Then, in 1882, the railway was extended from Wynberg to Muizenberg and suddenly it became easy to have a day at the beach.

In those days Fish Hoek was a farm in the country with a beautiful but remote beach. In 1883 the railway line reached Kalk Bay but it was not until 1890 that it was extended to Simon’s Town passing along Fish Hoek beach. The owners of the farm, having seen Muizenberg become a fashionable resort after the arrival of the railway, could not have been pleased when the railway authorities wanted to purchase land for the line but they could not refuse. A station was built opposite what is now Windsor Lodge. This was just a wooden platform with no shelter from the south easter and it was not until about 1910, after many complaints from travellers that a small waiting room was built at each end of the platform.

At that time the owner of the Fish Hoek Farm was Hester de Villiers who lived in the farmhouse, on the site of the present Homestead Naval Mess, with her husband Izaak de Villiers. She had bought the farm in 1883. She was then fifty one years old, a teacher who, with her sister, had run a small school in Cape Town. For an unmarried lady of her age to buy property was very unusual, but she came to Fish Hoek and ran the farm on her own. At the age of sixty nine she married Jacob Izaak de Villiers who had a farm at Noordhoek. He left one of his sons to run his farm and came to run the Fish Hoek Farm with her.

Previous owners of the farm had mainly wanted it for the fishing rights, but Hester de Kock, as she was then, cultivated fields of wheat and vegetables and it was probably Hester who built the barn, now Mountain View cottages, this is the oldest building in Fish Hoek. As the farm expanded more water was needed so in 1902 she bought the water rights to the Kleintuin spring at Clovelly and pipes were laid to bring the water to Fish Hoek to irrigate the fields and supply the farmhouse.

The first official grant of land at Fish Hoek was made in 1818, by Lord Charles Somerset. One of the stipulations in that grant was that the beach should remain open to the public but as it was not easy to access the number of visitors was small. However, the building of the railway line changed that. It was now easy for the citizens of Cape Town to get on the train to Simon’s Town, get off at the Fish Hoek station, and walk, and perhaps picnic, on the beach. Izaak de Villiers kept a strict eye on them, any rowdy behaviour or leaving of litter and they would be immediately reprimanded. Talking to visitors it soon became obvious that many of them would like to be able to stay in the area. So Hester de Villiers started letting rooms in the farmhouse and, when this became popular converted the barn and the coach house to rooms. Uitkyk, the building on the site of the old whaling station, was converted to a holiday cottage and camping was allowed next to the barn. So it was that Hester de Villiers became our first Fish Hoek tourist entrepreneur.

Having no children of her own it seems that Hester had come to regard the eight children of Izaak’s first marriage as her own. In her will she left the farm to her husband but asked that on his death the land should be sold and the proceeds divided equally between all her step children but the farmhouse was left to her two step daughters. She left a sum of £150 “to be placed in the savings bank at Cape Town and used for the maintenance of the family cemetery”. She died in 1914 and Izaak in 1916. They are both, with other members of the family, buried in the family cemetery which is now beside the Dutch Reformed church in Fish Hoek, whose members look after it.

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Shoals of yellow tail in False Bay may attract great white sharks

Shoals of yellow tail in False Bay may attract great white sharks

From: City of Cape Town

13 November 2017

The first large shoals of yellow tail for the summer were spotted in False Bay over the weekend. The City of Cape Town wants to remind beach goers that the presence of great white sharks increases in in-shore areas with the arrival of yellow tail and higher water temperatures.

In-shore shark activity usually increases over the summer months, especially with the current yellow tail sightings.

‘Shark sightings typically start in late August, and continue through to April, with most sightings being reported mid-summer. With the school holidays around the corner and warmer days ahead, I want to urge Capetonians and visitors to please take extra care when going into the ocean. Shark spotters and the Fish Hoek exclusion net are important safety measures, but the best precaution is to be alert and aware when in the water,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Transport and Urban Development, Councillor Brett Herron.

As we are approaching mid-summer, the City appeals to all beach goers to familiarise themselves with the following safety tips:

  • Use beaches where shark spotters are on duty
  • Take the time to speak to the shark spotters on the day you visit the beach
  • Use the shark spotters signs to familiarise yourself with the four-flag warning system and warning siren – the green flag indicates that spotting conditions are good; the red flag indicates that there is a high risk of in-shore shark activity; the black flag means spotting conditions are poor; and the white flag with the black shark indicates a shark has been spotted (a siren will sound and all should leave the water immediately)
  • Do not swim, surf or surf-ski when birds, dolphins or seals are feeding nearby
  • Do not swim, surf or surf-ski where trek-netting, fishing or spear-fishing is taking place
  • Do not swim in deep water beyond the breakers
  • Do not swim if you are bleeding
  • Do not swim near river mouths
  • Do not swim, surf or surf-ski at night
  • Do not swim, surf or surf-ski if there has been a whale stranding nearby
  • Obey beach officials, lifeguards and shark spotters if told to leave the water
  • Be aware that the rate of encounters with white sharks rises significantly when the water temperature is warmer (18ºC or higher) and during new moon, due to increased opportunities for feeding
  • If a shark has recently been sighted in an area where no shark spotters are present, consider using another beach for the day
  • First-time visitors to beach areas should ask the local law enforcement official, lifeguards or locals about the area
  • For those people kayaking or surf-skiing far out to the sea, please consider paddling in groups and staying close together (in a diamond formation)
  • Consider using a personal shark shield when you go surfing or kayaking
  • Pay attention to any shark signage on beaches

Surfers must be especially vigilant in the areas between Sunrise Beach and the Macassar Beach during the spring and summer months, as research has shown that shark presence in these waters is extremely common at this time of year.

The Shark Spotters information centre at Muizenberg Surfers Corner is open to the public from 08:00 until 18:00 seven days a week. The centre provides up-to-date information on sharks and marine ecology, basic first-aid, general public assistance and help with emergencies, and storage of valuables and lost property.

Shark spotters are present at the following beaches:

Beach Summer (October-April) Winter
Muizenberg Surfers Corner Monday- Sunday
08:00 – 18:00
Monday- Sunday
08:00 – 18:00
St James/Kalk Bay Monday- Sunday
08:00 – 18:00
Monday- Sunday
08:00 – 18:00
Fish Hoek Monday- Sunday
08:00 – 18:45
Monday- Sunday
08:00 – 18:00
Caves, Kogel Bay Monday- Sunday
08:00 – 18:00
Monday- Sunday
08:00 – 18:00
Noordhoek (The Hoek) Monday- Sunday
08:00 – 18:00
(September to May)
N/A
Cloverlly Weekends, public holidays and school holidays
08:00 – 18:00
N/A
Glencairn Weekends, public holidays and school holidays
08:00 – 18:00
N/A
Monwabisi Weekends, public holidays and school holidays
08:00 – 18:00
N/A

The Fish Hoek exclusion net has proven to be an effective shark safety measure by creating a physical barrier preventing any sharks from entering the bathing area. The exclusion net is in operation during the summer season as follows:

October 2017 School holidays and weekends
November 2017 – March 2018 The net will operate on a daily basis, depending on the weather. Weekends, public holidays and school holidays will be prioritized
April 2018 School holidays, public holidays and weekends

The exclusion net will not be deployed if weather conditions – wind and swell – are deemed unsuitable. Conditions are assessed on a daily basis. If weather conditions deteriorate after the net has been deployed already, the net may be removed as a precautionary measure. The net is not deployed when there is a high presence of whales or other marine mammals in the area.

On days that the exclusion net is deployed, the operating hours will be from 09:00 to 17:00. The operating hours may be extended to allow for lifesaving training or events. The Shark spotters will inform beach goers as and when the net is deployed via Twitter, Facebook, and the Shark Spotter mobile application (app).

Residents and visitors are urged to download the Shark Spotters mobile app to access the latest shark safety information, including what flag is flying at each beach, the latest shark sightings, net deployments, and much more. The app is available free of charge for Apple and Android devices and can be downloaded by searching for ‘Shark Spotters’ on the app store.

For more information on the latest shark sightings and research, please visit www.sharkspotters.org.za or follow the Shark Spotters on Twitter (@SharkSpotters) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/SharkSpotters).

‘We encourage the public to report sightings of white sharks to the Shark Spotters. White sharks are present in our waters all year round and beach goers should be aware that there is always a small possibility of encountering one of these animals. Please remain vigilant while enjoying the ocean,’ said Councillor Herron.

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