Vitorian Life at
the Cape 1870 – 1900 by Catherine Knox
From the notes of
Paddy Killick (supplied by Dave and Cynthia Privett).
Muizenberg's universal popularity as a seaside resort was explained with the
warmest approval by the author of the Cape town Guide –1897.
The beaches are alive with gaily dressed ladies and romping children-
balmy even when other suburbs are damp and chill. It is situated on the downs of
False bay with its extensive beach, safe at all times for bathing, with unique
geographical situation with its balmy breezes laden with the life giving ozone
of the South Pacific (sic) and with its scenery the most beautiful of the
coastline. It has well deserved the appellation of the "Cape Rivera".
The water at this wonderful spot was warmer than at Woodstock. There were
bathing houses at intervals along the extensive beach but most were for the use
of residents at the houses, boarding houses and hotels that abounded here. For
the convenience of strangers 2 bathing screens had been erected in the water,
one for women and one for men.
Bathing dresses presented a challenge to women who were modest and fashion conscious
at the same time. the most satisfactory models consisted of a commodious, short
sleeved overdress and a paid of pantaloons reaching to mid calf. Grey serge or
flannel were the best fabrics - they were not revealing even when wet. the Rutherford
sisters made their own bathing dresses out of old blankets for a holiday in Kalk
Bay. The correlation between the weight of these garments and the frequency with
which inexperienced female bathers drowned was not commonly pointed out.