History

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MUIZENBERG: a brief history

In the early part of the nineteenth century, apart from fishermen’s huts and the military barracks, the only homes in Muizenberg were a few scattered farmhouses, such as Weltevreden in Main Road, Lakeside. In 1825 an inn called Farmer Peck’s opened. This inn was famous for its ham and eggs, and offered “excellent beds without any fleas!” However, a letter that appeared in the South African Commercial Advertiser in 1830 complained about the bad state of the road to Simon’s Town, which made it “impossible to proceed faster than a foot’s pace”.

Road

Muizenberg looking towards Simon’s Town

By 1844 matters had improved, and the road between Simon’s Town and Cape Town was declared a main road, marked with milestones. In 1882 a momentous event occurred for False Bay – the railway line, which for twenty years stopped at Wynberg, was extended to Muizenberg. This was followed by an increase in building in the Muizenberg area, with many seaside cottages arising. After the discovery of gold on the Witwatersrand in 1886, the gold magnates started to build their holiday houses in Muizenberg, and in 1895 the Muizenberg Municipality was established.

It merged with Kalk Bay in 1897. Muizenberg now became the fashionable resort in the country. In April 1910 a library opened next to the Natale Labia, followed a year later by the opening of the Muizenberg Post Office. In November 1911 the first pavilion, a wooden one, was built, and on 27 December of the same year the first official South African airmail was flown from Kenilworth racecourse to Muizenberg.

Cecil John Rhodes spent a considerable time in Muizenberg, and died in Rhodes Cottage. Rust and Vrede, which was to have been built for Rhodes, was completed by Sir Abe Bailey, who lived in the house until his death.

Rudyard Kipling also spent several winters in Muizenberg. Cape. Magnificent homes were built along Beach and Royal Roads, among them Vergenoegd, designed by Herbert Baker for Gardner Williams, the general manager of De Beers Consolidated Mines. Herbert Baker built his own seaside cottage, Sandhills, on Beach Road.

In June 1913 a new railway station was built in Muizenberg, as well as several hotels. In 1920 Boyes Drive was completed, and in 1929 a new pavilion was opened, which included a theatre seating nine hundred people.

Muizenberg-cover-1-590x776Want to know more?
Read Michael Walker’s book
“Muizenberg, the Golden Years”

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