A campaign created by Western Cape photographer Angela Gorman has been launched to urgently save Muizenberg’s iconic Beach Huts.
Western Cape, South Africa (14 September 2020) – Whether they are called beach huts, beach boxes, bathing boxes or even beach houses, there is never any doubt, when mentioned alongside Muizenberg, that people are referring to the stretch of colourful beach huts on Muizenberg beach.
They’ve probably appeared on every marketing campaign about Cape Town for decades, provided a backdrop to countless photographs and are such a colourful part of local beach life that it’s inconceivable to imagine them not being there. The bathing box is a throw-back to the “bathing machine” of the 1800’s—a cart-like structure that was wheeled down to the water’s edge, allowing the ladies to change into their chin-to-ankle bathing wear and frolic modestly in the shallows.
Red, yellow, green and blue — the iconic, photogenic Beach Huts on Muizenberg Beach are hurting.
Some huts, in recent years, fell into disrepair and with the threat of removal of the huts as recently as 2017, there was a huge public outcry. The plight of the beach hut is close to the heart of every “Muizenberger” and together with the mountain, surfing and beach walks make up the locals’ love and passion for this much-loved attraction. The 31 huts are in need of urgent attention before they are removed for being an eyesore and safety hazard.
When local beachgoer Angela Gorman walked past the huts recently, she was shocked to see the dilapidated state they were in.
“Muizenberg is my favourite beach, and it is tragic to see these iconic, vibrant parts of our heritage in such appalling condition. I would love to see a community project set up to contribute towards the maintenance of the huts,” says Gorman.
She decided that the only way to get something done was to get it started herself. Gorman put on her proactive cap and set up a Facebook page called Save Our Beach Huts, calling for material sponsorship like wood, paint and brushes, along with volunteers to help paint and repair the wooden structures.
The response has been amazing, with a commitment to help coming not only from Muizenberg itself but from across Cape Town. Words of encouragement have also come in from people worldwide who have visited Cape Town in the past and remember the bright huts.
“I’m aiming to repair one hut at a time and hope that once people see us actually working on the project, more volunteers and donors will come forward,” says Gorman, who is hoping to get work started as soon as November. According to her the huts were last painted and repaired in 2017.
Phase one of her plan is to repair and paint the first 25 huts up to the Lifesaver’s Tower, with sponsorship for the repair of the first four already secured.
“We are currently waiting for the City Council to provide us with the technical specifications for the wood and paint to be used before going ahead,” says Gorman, who said the City Council are happy for her to raise awareness on social media and try to get as many interested parties involved as possible.
She confirmed support of several role players, including the City of Cape Town, Muizenberg Improvement District, Neighborhood Watch and Surfer’s Corner. The ultimate goal is to secure community maintenance of the huts after they have been repaired.
Angela is motivated to see the project through because the huts symbolise happiness to her that goes back to family outings as a child.
“Every time you walk past there are people taking photos and admiring them. They symbolise a family day at the beach. As a Swiss friend said on a Facebook post — These huts are such a symbol, used by the international travel industry to promote South Africa.”
Apart from being part of Muizenberg’s DNA, the huts bring added value in the form of Instagram publicity and more importantly, as a backdrop for advert and film shoots.