Even before the first sale of plots, in 1918, business opportunities were being explored. The Delbridge brothers, who were builders, realised that the sandstone in a koppie on Elsies Peak was ideal for building and particularly good for flooring as it polished very well. A lease was negotiated with Mrs Hester de Villiers, the owner of the Fish Hoek Farm, allowing the stone to be quarried.
In the late 1700’s farmers from the western end of the valley had built a track over the mountain as a short cut to Simon’s Town. This was not used for long as a better route was found and was opened up again to give access to the quarry site. It started opposite the Primary School, in Kommetjie Road, taking an easy gradient to about three quarter of the way up the ravine opposite Second Avenue, after which it ran up more steeply to the quarry. The wagons containing the stone went up and down on rails opposite the Main Road circle. They were presumably powered by a mule or donkey operated capstan at the top as the remains of horse shoes have been found on the site. As there was only one set of rails there must have been some sort of braking system for the empty waggons coming down.
The stone was cut and dressed on site, only the finished product being brought down to the road where it was then loaded into carts to be taken to local building sites or to the railway siding near the farmhouse. In 1896 Fish Hoek stone was railed to Wellington for the building of Cummings Hall at the Wellington Training College. The business closed about 1905, possibly as a result of the opening of the larger Glencairn Quarry. The Delbridges had building businesses and were not dependent on the Fish Hoek Quarry, so presumably closed it when it became uneconomical.
In 1903 Lambert Colyn opened a quarry at the side of the Clovelly Road on the site of the present electrical sub-station. He was given permission to build a railway line to the siding at Fish Hoek to load his stone. To do this he had to build a bridge over the Silvermine River and a line that ran alongside the Simon’s Town line to the siding near the farmhouse. The railway line remained after the closing of the quarry and by 1930 had become rather hazardous to traffic where it crossed the Main Road as the lines were slightly below the road level. The remains of the supports for the bridge could be seen in the Silvermine River for many years.
Another type of building material, ash blocks, was made in a building on the foreshore in 1924/5. They were made from a mixture of coal cinders from the railway, sea sand and shells with a little cement to bond the mixture together. The Local Board thought that the railway authorities had given permission for this business to be carried on there and the railway authorities thought that permission had been given by the local Board!
It was only in March 1925 that someone realised that no permission had ever been given and they were forced to close. In 1930 an application was made to start a fish smoking business and in 1931 there was an application fora fish processing factory. Both applications were refused as Fish Hoek wanted to remain a residential area only.
Tea rooms and cafes soon appeared as more visitors came to the beach. In 1925 Costa and Maria Pnematicatos took over a cafe in Beach Road. This became the local rendezvous for the young people coming and going from the beach. For visitors it was the place to go and buy their delicious ice creams. In October 1923 the Local Board passed the plans for a cafè on the corner of Main and Recreation Roads. It was called Santoy Tea Rooms and in an early advertisement is described as “five minutes from railway station ” and tells us “Table Boarders a Speciality.” A stoep on the Main Road side was a very popular place for tea. It was taken over in 1925 by an owner who changed the name to “The Green Parrot Tea Room” and brought her parrot with her.
Polly soon became very popular with the customers. The stoep was built in so that it could be used in all weather but when the Main Road was rebuilt in the 1940’s it was discovered that it was actually built on public land, so the stoep had to be removed to make room for a sidewalk. The business changed hands several times but the parrot remained. The building was demolished in 1964 and replaced with the present building, but if you look up at the corner on the Recreation Road side you will see a picture of a green parrot and the name Green Parrot Place.
On the comer of Main and Recreation Roads, opposite the Green Parrot was a low lying site which flooded in winter. This remained empty for several until Ted Holwill bought it in 1941. He already owned the adjoining block of shops and on his new site he built Devonshire Court flats and opened Kents Stores underneath on the Main Road side.
By 1944 he owned the whole block as far as A. P. Jones and in June 1986 the old shops were demolished and the building of the Arcade was started. It took a year to build, being completed in June 1987. The property still belongs to the Holwill Family Trust.
Wakefords Furnishing and A.P. Jones are the only two of the original Fish Hoek businesses still running. In 1920 Albert Wakeford came to Fish Hoek on holiday with his parents. He met an elderly couple who owned a grocery shop at the end of the Main Road and they asked him if he would run the business for them. Service was much more personal in those days and he would set out on horseback each morning to collect the grocery lists from his customers. In the afternoon the horse would be harnessed to a cart and they would set off to deliver the orders. In 1922 he bought the grocery shop and four years later another two plots further down the road, where in 1929 he built a garage, the Triangle Garage, so called because the present circle at the end of the Main Road was then a triangle. During the 1940’s he started selling second hand furniture at the garage and realising that as Fish Hoek was growing and there was a demand for furniture he converted the garage into shops and so Wakefords Furniture was born. In 1945 he bought the Fish Hoek Garage, where Pep Stores is today, which was renamed the Triangle Garage.
A.P. Jones was a Cornishman who had worked in a gentleman’s outfitters before joining the army during World War 1. Although he got his old job back after the war prospects for advancement were not good, and he joined his two brothers who had immigrated to South Africa and lived with one of them in Rondebosch. In 1921 his brother moved to Fish Hoek and he came too. Although there was plenty of entertainment fora young bachelor he could not forget his Cornish sweetheart, so he sent her a ticket to Cape Town and they were married at Holy Trinity Church in Kalk Bay in 1925. After living with his brother for a while they moved to a flat in Tamboers Kloof where their first daughter was born.
As a founder member of the Commercial Employees Association he fought for improved conditions for shop workers until he started travelling as an agent for Garlicks, taking orders for their good in the country districts. Travelling by train and staying in country hotels his route took him three months to complete. This was not a good job for a man with a wife and two children so his brother persuaded him to buy a grocery business in Kommetjie Road. As more shops were opening up in the Main Road he approached Mr Burton, the owner of some plots between Warwick House and Wakefords who agreed to build a shop and let it. Now A.P. Jones began to sell clothing and materials as well as groceries and the shop was built with two doors for the different departments.
As Fish Hoek grew the clothing and material side became so popular that he sold the grocery side, and when Oxleys, a ladies clothing shop in Warwick House was put up for sale he bought it. The ladies department was moved there whilst the mens department moved further down the Main Road. Running two separate shops was not ideal so he bought a plot next to the bank and built a shop big enough to take all their departments. As the business prospered a house behind the shop was demolished and the premises extended through to First Avenue.
In November 1948 a meeting was held to consider the formation of a Business Association. Fifteen people attended with G. W. Morris, who had a shop in the Main Road, acting as Chairman. A resolution was passed that “An Association of Business interests be formed in Fish Hoek.” The Fish Hoek Business Association represented local interests until 1953 when, at their Annual General Meeting, a resolution was passed that the Fish Hoek Business Association be wound up and its assets transferred to a newly formed Chamber of Commerce. They would then be able to send a delegate to meetings of the Association of Chambers of Commerce.
In 1956 “a sub-committee for propaganda for promoting Fish Hoek as a shopping centre” was formed. Special attention was to be drawn to “Easy Parking arrangements in Fish Hoek, Competitive Prices, Competitions, Leisurely Shopping”. The idea of competitions was discarded as “Fish Hoek residents (particularly children) being in the majority would probably carry off everything – which was not the aim of the project.” “It was therefore considered that the approach to the scheme should be a dignified attitude, advertising our shopping area to draw custom from outside areas and presenting all we have naturally and “in our stride” and to cut out all competitive stunts.” How times have changed!