South Africa’s V&A Waterfront is considered an elite shopping destination housing the latest fashion trends, but what few South Africans know is that it is also the oldest working harbour in South Africa, home to 22 cultural landmarks and the ruins of an original Dutch Fort built in 1714. Guided historical walking tours are now being offered to educate the public about the Waterfront’s history.
On International Museums Day, pupils from Nolugile Primary School in Khayelitsha were in for a treat when they travelled back in time during a V&A Historical Walking Tour guided by ‘Jan van Riebeeck’. Tour guides in period dress enthusiastically told the story of Cape Town’s rich history and showed the pupils some of the historic points such as the Clock Tower, the Robinson Dry Dock (one of the oldest of its kind in the world and still used today), the SAS Somerset (the only boom defence vessel remaining in the world), and Cape Town’s first power station to name a few. They were also shown a glimpse of what life may have been like in the Cape during the 1700s when they explored the museum which showcases the ruins of the Fort built in 1714 that was buried for 180 years.
“It’s all about how you tell the story; that is the key to making history exciting and interesting,” said Willem Steenkamp, renowned historian, author and brainchild behind the V&A Historical Walking Tour and curator of the Chavonnes Battery Museum.
The V&A Historical Walking Tour operates in partnership with the Chavonnes Battery Museum, which is managed by a BEE, women-owned company on behalf of Nedbank/BOE. Dale Dodgen, business executive at the helm of the organisation says, “The Museum and Walking Tour allows visitors to experience the history of the Cape from before 1600 to the present. When information is presented in an exciting manner, people remember what they have learnt, become interested in the rich history of the harbour and understand its contribution to the development of Cape Town.”
Peninsula Beverage Company (PenBev), the local bottler of The Coca-Cola Company’s products in the Western and Northern Cape, through its partnership with the V&A Waterfront and the “Partners in Education Project” has recently formed synergies with the Chavonnes Battery Museum and the V&A Historical Walking Tour. This pilot project sponsors pupils from disadvantaged areas with the opportunity to visit the museum and to take part in the guided tours so they can learn more about Cape Town’s roots. Denise Green, Corporate Social Investment Manager at PenBev says, “We are excited about the partnership with the V&A Waterfront and the Partners in Education Project with the Chavonnes Battery Museum and V&A Historical Walking Tour. Educating the youth about their history is important, and this is a great way to make history fun.”
The V&A Historical Walking Tour departs daily from the Chavonnes Battery Museum at 11am and booking is essential. The Chavonnes Battery Museum, located in the Nedbank/BOE Building on the Clock Tower Square, V&A Waterfront (opposite Robben Island gateway), is open 7 days a week from 9am to 4pm. For more information contact: 021 416 6230 or visit www.chavonnesmuseum.co.za or http://www.waterfront.co.za/Pages/VandAWaterfrontHistoricalWalkingTours.aspx
For more information about the projects that PenBev are involved with visit www.penbev.co.za
Photographer: Craig Wilson