A Seaforth love story

Dorothy and Harry Burchell enjoying nature. Their daughter, Belinda Burchell, believes that the picture was taken around 1946 at Scarborough, Olifantsbos, or somewhere in the Cape Point nature reserve. Picture: Belinda Burchell Collection

Dorothy Horsburgh and Harry Burchell were married on May 15, 1948, in the Simon’s Town Magistrate’s Court, where the Simon’s Town Museum stands today.

According to their daughter, Belinda Burchell, Dorothy was born in Salisbury, Rhodesia, on September 15, 1925 and came to the Cape with her parents and siblings when she was about 18.

Her parents, Robert Horsburgh and Violet Horsburgh (née Brown) bought the house on Kleintuin Road, Seaforth, which is now the curio and coffee shop, El Pinguino. They also bought two flats, Bay Flats, behind the house, which face onto the Seaforth parking area.

Harry was born in Seaforth on August 27, 1920. His parents, Charles Burchell and Elizabeth Burchell (née Ward), bought 28 The Moorings, on Gay Road in Seaforth in 1912.

“My mother’s home was at the bottom left corner of the Seaforth parking area, and my father’s home was at the top left corner,” says Belinda.

Dorothy planned to return to Rhodesia after her 21st birthday, but she met Harry the day after she turned 21 and decided to stay.

Harry had been in the South African Air Force during World War II, stationed on the then Gold Coast of Ghana in West Africa.

“My father used to build and sail his own sailing boats off of Seaforth Beach and would sometimes take my mother’s young brother, Robert Horsburgh, on small sailing trips with him. He met my mother when she wandered down to Seaforth Beach to call her brother home for supper.”

The couple lived in two cottages on Rocklands Farm when first married. One was named Peebles.

“My father single-handedly built our family home, 466 Main Road, Murdoch Valley, overlooking the ocean, on weekends, holidays, and evenings after work.”

The house was sold in 2010 and renovated by the new owners. It is currently Watercolours Guest House.

Dorothy was the organist in the Saint Francis of Assisi Anglican Church for 30 years from 1957 to 1987.

“When my parents met, she was working at the Standard Bank, which was in the small stone building designed by Sir Herbert Baker, opposite the West Dockyard gate.”

She later pursued a career as a ballet pianist.

When he retired, Harry was the chief inspector of the works branch in the Simon’s Town Dockyard. He had started his career there as an apprentice carpenter 48 years earlier.

Dorothy died on December 12, 1987. The couple had been married for 39 years, five months short of 40 years. Harry died 20 years later on September 1, 2007.