SERENDIPITY – Kleinemonde and Cawoods Bay

SITUATED along the two rivers known as Lynedoch and Wellington, the land between the rivers is known as “The Peninsula”.

This seaside retreat has grown into a desirable and much sought after area to live in. The Baillie Party’s allotment of 1820 Settler land was between the Fish and Kleinemonde Rivers.

SEPIA SCENE: A picnic and tents at Kleinemonde, with the river in the background

The “Kleinemonden Rivier” farm, originally granted to John Baillie, was transferred to Flanagan and Bowker in 1849. Another portion of “Klein Monden River” was transferred to John Fletcher from Thomas Bowker.

Wonderful stories are told by “old-timers” of memorable holidays spent at Kleinemonde. Of wagons and staff who came down with the families for their annual holidays. Of sheep, cattle and poultry that were brought with the wagons as food for later use. Stories of tents pitched, sleeping on the wagons, huts that were built by “regulars” and later wood and iron houses that took the place of these huts. Evident everywhere, are some of these original wood and iron homes.

West Kleinemonde has its own identity, in that this portion of the area was part of “Tharfield Farm” belonging to Miles Bowker. He allocated plots from 1925 onwards to those who came regularly and wanted to build permanent structures. Kleinemonde grew from four cottages, in the west, to 30 when Tom Webb sold 12 hectares of land to the Western Kleinemonde Owners Association, which became an entity on its own in which owners became shareholders.

There was a strange building at one stage, which most old-timers remember as “the barracks”. It is said that this was built as barracks for troops in the Boer War, presumably from the regiments stationed in Grahamstown.

Another tale is that the British troops were stationed here, and on certain nights, the Boers crept up signal hill above East Kleinemonde, to light their signal fires to the Boer ships who were lying off the bay indicating that all was well to swim the horses onto the beach. This, over the very heads of the British troops. It might be a rural legend, however many a “four drink fire” has been enjoyed while these stories are retold.

The 1820 Settlers were desperate to find a suitable port close to their Albany allotments.  Port Jessie was established circa 1847 by the Cawood brothers. Only a few ships used this harbour, but closed in about 1848 after the Waterloo was wrecked.

There were numerous shipwrecks off Kleinemonde. The Waterloo S Finland” and the SS Umvolosi, whose mast used to visible in the sea near Clayton’s Rocks. Stories of the cargo include railway coaches, sleepers and some heavy gold-mining equipment. Divers, on the other hand, have found evidence of rifles, earthenware jars and ivory tusks.

Since the entire region from the Fish River (Lower Albany) was a frontier zone under tension between the Xhosa advancing from the east, and the British Colonial Government pushing eastwards, the whole area, of which Kleinemonde is part, suffered intensely from the severe hostilities.