Fish Hoek Beach Past and Present- changes wrought by fear of the Great Whites of False Bay

Ken Smith of Clovelly has sent us fascinating photographs, with comments, of Fish Hoek beach in years gone by. Read his interesting observations with regard to Fish Hoek beach and the Great White sharks in False Bay in his article posted on our home page: http://www.scenicsouth.co.za/2010/03/early-memories-of-fish-hoek-waters-and-related-thoughts-. 

Fish Hoek beach from Elsies Peak 1960

Fish Hoek beach from Elsies Peak in about 1960

This is an early photo taken around 1960 by myself. It shows the upright buried railway sleepers that ran the length of the beach and this marked the high water mark. 

Also of note is the caravan park that ran along the railway fence. The general ablution block is clearly visible and this was known to us at the time as “The Desert House” (after Beau Geste fame). 

Looking at the beach one sees many caravans meaning that the photo was taken during the holiday season. There are not that many parked cars and this is probably a week day. For a quite week day, look at all the bathers. 

The black square at the end of the driveway to the beach on the right, is the wooden structure housing the lifesaving reel and known to us as the Green Box. This was the home of the fledgling Fish Hoek Surf Life Saving Club. 

The other point of interest is the stormwater outflow pipe across the beach that was used as a marker by all – for walks, for running etc. 

Looking at the Fish Hoek station and beyond one can see the changes that have taken place. At the Clovelly end the sand dunes amongst the bush ran right down to the Main Road bridge. 

Behind the beach cafe one can make out the beach inspectors office and in the area in front of this building was the Bop Floor used by all the Fish Hoek teenagers for dancing during the evenings. 

Scans 001 & 002 are from two post cards in my album probably taken around 1961. 

Crowds enjoying Fish Hoek beach, about 1961

Crowds enjoying Fish Hoek beach in the early '60s

Scan0001 on the beach clearly shows the upright buried railway sleepers. Just look how crowded the beach was and there are people at present in defense of the sharks, saying the beach wasn’t really crowded in the past! 

Fish Hoek Beach from the Catwalk, early'60s

Fish Hoek Beach from the Catwalk, early'60s

Scan002

shows Fish Hoek in its heyday – the sloping catwalk rock that was our haunt. When the waves were really big we would rush down in the evening after work to body surf. We would dive in from this rock and someone would stay ashore to signal to the surfers when a big set was coming through. This often meant swimming out to roughly where the now demolished gents change cubicle was sited. Can you imagine doing this now in the late evening!

Ken Smith