Brief History of Victoria Bay
The name dates back to a public meeting @ George on the 24th August 1847. The meeting was called to hear a report on the capabilities of Gunter Bay, as it was then known. Captain Allen reported that it was possible to land goods at all times. In due course Gunter Bay was renamed Victoria Bay in honour of the reigning sovereign. In 1858 Captain Pilkington surveyed Victoria Bay and the smaller Christina Bay [ today known as Ballots Bay ] approx. 5km west of Victoria Bay.
The jetty and the tidal pool along Lands End Road have a unique history. A certain Mr Bramwell Butler from Oudtshoorn won the last Calcutta Sweepstake in 1923 which resulted in a handsome payout of 125 000 Pounds. This vast sum of money lifted him from relative “ comfortability “ to tremendous wealth. As a young bookkeeper he struggled to buy a 10 shilling sweepstake ticket from a Jewish jeweller by the name of Nathaniel Lipschitz ; he tried to sell shares in the ticket and everybody thought he was daft.
He drew a horse named “ Tiga “ @ 22 to 1 and the horse won. By today’s exchange rate that would have meant an awesome amount of money. He offered the Dutch Reform Church 10 000 pounds but they refused the offer on the grounds that “ it was gambling money “ The Methodist Church however maintained that “ life’s a gamble “ and accepted the offer. Bramwell Butler proceeded to build the jetty and the tidal pool and also bought property from Sea Cottage to Hold All along Lands End Road for 6 000 pounds.
The railway line above the bay that links George with Knysna was finally completed in December 1928. The bridge @ Kaaimans River is famous worldwide by steam locomotive enthusiasts and links two of South Africa’s most scenic spots by rail. This 2.5 hour train journey is a must by all who visit the Garden Route.
The Period Around 1900
Mr. ETL. Edmeades owned property extending from Ballots Bay in the west to Wilderness heights in the east, extending inland as far as Saasveld. When he died in 1927 he left Victoria Bay to his eight children. He had 4 sons and 4 daughters and the bay was divided into 8 plots at the time. Reginald, Lionel, Alexander and Edwin were the sons and Constance, Effi, Marjory and Joan made up the daughters. Reginald got “ Lands End “ and current day “ Sea for breakfast “ – double stand.
The first two plots in the bay were given to Joan who sold them to Timothy Giles on the 9th Feb. 1927 for 150 pounds. Effi and Marjory inherited the Gable House near the jetty. They travelled extensively during the ostrich feather boom of 1906 to 1910 and were also schooled in Switzerland.
The Period Around 2000
Today the bay is made up of families who have been fortunate enough to have bought their own properties and then there are those that have inherited their properties. All properties are very tightly held and seldom come onto the market. There are a few guest houses that are frequented mostly by overseas tourists and throughout the year there are 13 permanent residents. The Bay is served by a comfortable restaurant, two camp sites, lovely beach and lawn area. The swimming is outstanding and the local surfers here have one of the most consistent surf breaks anywhere along the South African coastline.
Whales are seen on most days from late May until late October each year and the common humpback dolphin is often seen twice a day. Fishing in the bay is good to excellent over some months of the year. Spear fishing is not encouraged and plans are afoot to create a marine sanctuary.