Construction of the Marine Drive was started by the Cape Town

municipality in 1916. This was very different to the Marine Drive of

today……….flooding by the seas, sand, seaweed and flotsam were not unusual

hazards on the road.

Paarden Eiland was only actively promoted and proclaimed an industrial

area in 1935. Land was sold for 4 ½ pence per square foot. In 1968 it was

traded at R1.50.

The then new industrial suburb boasted one of the country’s first motor

assembly plants – Atkinson’s Motors – this is the building now housing Kondylis

Motors and other tenants in Paarden eiland road today. Dodge, Chrysler,

Plymouth, De Soto cars and commercials were built here. Water table flooding in parts of the factory was a problem when the nearby sea was ‘high’.

Construction of Marine drive

Paarden Eiland in the beginning

Paarden Eiland developed as a modern industrial area particularly after

the WW2. Epping and then Bellville opened up and attracted the larger expanding

enterprises from Paarden Eiland.

Smaller production units proliferated in Paarden Eiland; and then the warehousing,

distribution and servicing of finished goods became prevalent. Industry wane

and commercial activity replaced it. This process continues to the present day

with more and more mini-factories becoming a feature; now being developed under

sectional title ownership.

The modern industrial era

Paarden Eiland in foreground with Cape Town Harbour

But the evolution has not stopped. It continues with a growing retail

trade element that simply never existed here before.  

From earlier car, steel engineering, textile manufacturing, cool drink

bottling, ice cream plant, foundries, bakery, hides/skins, wool stores we can

now buy at retail - new and used cars. 4x4’s, boats and rubber ducks, tiles,

furniture, meat, seafood, liquor, plumbing and bathroom fittings, car radios, alarm systems. Ceramic pots, car and truck hire, tv and home hi-fi equipment, along with attendant, professional service of banks, attorneys, doctors, estate agents. On top of this we now have restaurants, pubs, takeaways and nightclubs.

Paarden Eiland has served the economic needs of the population of the

western cape in various guises over the past 350 years. It has in fact gone

through five reincarnations – wild veld, agriculture, industry, commercial,

retail and now the sixth – entertainment. Even this modern perversion indicates the economic value of Paarden Eiland to the well being of the Cape.

Jan van Riebeek’s diaries make frequent

reference to hunting game in the wilderness around the mouths of the Salt,

Black and Diep Rivers; the area now known as Paarden Eiland. Hippopotamus in

the rivers was a hazard to watch out for !

When the northwest storms of winter raged the lee shore of Woodstock /

Paarden Eiland beach became the graveyard of (between 80 and 100) a sailing

ship; as a result of dragging anchors. Wolraad Woltemade is the enduring hero

of 1773 who rescued passengers from the wreck of the Jonge Thomas with his

horse before the intrepid two drowned from exhaustion. He was visiting the

beach to deliver food to his son who was guarding the goods washed ashore from

the foundered Jonge Thomas.

Wilderness to agriculture

From being a wilderness the area gave way to agriculture. Maps of 1786

show well-defined farms. Horses, cattle and sheep grazed with crops on the

higher ground towards modern Milnerton and rugby.

Beginnings of industry

Then came the beginnings of industry. Lime was produced from the blue

muscle shells washed up on the beach. The first lime kilns were often fuelled

with the timbers of ship wrecks on the beach – an early exercise in recycling !

Wheat milling, drying fish and salt production were all facilitated by the frequent

southeaster winds in the summer. Seawater ponds formed at the back of the beach

during winter storms. The sun and wind in the summer evaporated the water –

leaving salt deposits.

Leper patients, sewage & waste

The relative isolation of the Paarden Eiland area from the main residential

and commercial centres was put to good use by housing smallpox leper patients

here. Later it was also used as a sewage and waste/ refuse dump.

Jan van Riebeek days
Commercial to retail

Before Paarden Eiland