The Port of Cape Town of Yore

Is one even able to contemplate what Cape Town’s harbour was like in the days of sail? These photographs evoke that period. Imagine the harbour without a steamship in sight. The first regular service between SA and the UK was only commenced in 1857 by the Union Steam Company.

Main picture: Sailing ships at anchor in Table Bay mid 1800s

Another harbour scene from the 1880s

This busy 1898 harbour scene suggests that the British were already building up supplies for the Boer War. Coal from Welsh mines in the foreground.

A scene probably dating to the start of WW1. Note the ‘S’ shaped viaduct in the left of the image connected the main feeder track from the quarry to the breakwater extension, but at the time of the photo was no longer in use as that 7ft gauge era ended in 1904. ote the steam traction engine with 4 trailers between the sheds in the foreground.

A mixture of sail & steam. Photo probably taken early in WW1. This speculation is based on the extraordinary number of ships n the roadstead.


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