It is difficult to say when Fish Hoek was named. Many names appear on early maps and at various times it has been described as Visch Baai, Visbaai, Vishoeks Baal and many other variations. The name Vischoek was first given to the promontory between Kalk Bay and Fish Hoek and later extended to the bay beyond. The title deeds of the farm used the name Visch Hoek, however when the first plots were laid out for sale the plan had both Visch Hoek and Fish Hoek on it. Why the English word fish was used but the Dutch word hoek retained is not known. It is very confusing for tourists who, not knowing that hoek is Dutch for corner, often ask if the town is called Fish Hoek because the bay is shaped like a fish hook!
As most of the first residents of the new village were English speaking they called their village Fish Hoek. They were therefore most annoyed when the following report, headed “Vis Hoek not Fish Hoek” appeared in the Cape Times of 16 May 1934.
“Road sign posts at Fish Hoek will in future show the name of the locality as Vis Hoek. At yesterday’s meeting of the Divisional Council a recommendation to this effect was agreed to. It is understood that the railway proposes re-naming the station as Vis Hoek and the Council’s Engineer reported that all official plans of the locality have its name spelt this way.”
The Village Management Board Immediately queried this with the Divisional Council who replied that the report was correct. “The Automobile Association has informed the Council of the decision of the Railway Department to re-name the station Vis Hoek and inquired which spelling the Council desired should be adopted in the manufacture of road signs. In view of the change of name of the station and as all original plans of the diagram refer to the farm as Vis Hoek the Council decided to keep this spelling of the road signs.”
A protest meeting was held in the village and angry letters were written to the newspapers. It appeared that in 1928 the railway authorities had decided that “the name of stations, sidings etc., of which one half appeared in the one language and the other half in the other language should be changed so that a pure name was retained in the one or other official language.” This was being implemented when stations were painted and no double names would be allowed, therefore Fish Hoek would now be known as Vishoek. However, it was pointed out even Vishoek was not correct as the original farm was called Visch Hoek.
A petition against the name change was circulated and the Chairman of the Village Management Board wrote to the Divisional Council stating that the Board had “unanimously resolved that they will not countenance any alteration in the present name of the Township.” The residents were getting ready to fight! The Automobile Association, having also received an irate letter from the Village Management Board, backtracked, and wrote to the Divisional Council suggesting tactfully that “under the circumstances” it would be better to retain the name of Fish Hoek. The Divisional Council rescinded the motion and the name remained Fish Hoek.
Feelings on the subject were very heated and there were many letters to the press. One correspondent wrote that as “The Fish Hoek Village Management Board is a proper, legally constituted, and legally named Board. Think how interesting Deeds of Transfer will be in the future. They will read, I think, something like this. Certain piece of land being Lot No….. situate at Vis Hoek, in the Village Management Board area of Fish Hoek, part of the Visch Hoek Estate.”
Another correspondent, citing the very long names on some Welsh railway stations suggested “why not call the station Vishoekfishoekvischoek?” Now that would have really put us on the map!