City budgets R3 million to save iconic beach huts

Three of the four huts on Muizenberg’s main beach. One of the four will be converted into a wheelchair-friendly hut.

The City of Cape Town has budgeted R3 million to restore Muizenberg’s iconic beach huts to their former glory.

The community-led project by the Beach Hut Trust has caught the attention of mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis.

In an adjusted-budget speech delivered on Thursday January 27, he said the huts had long been an iconic part of Cape Town’s colourful landscape, and they were literally a postcard for Cape Town tourism.

“We are grateful for this kind of citizen-led pride in Cape Town, and we are happy to be able to contribute to their refurbishment now,” he said.

Beach Hut Trust chairwoman Angela Gorman said the announcement by the mayor came as “a complete surprise” and she had not stopped smiling since.

Ms Gorman started the Save Our Beach Huts Facebook page in September 2020 after noticing the sad state of the huts, which have been around since 1895.

Five of the 45 huts have been restored so far. The huts, which were previously made of wood, have been reclad in boards made of natural fibres that are fire and mould resistant and ideal for harsh weather conditions.

The boards are available in a timber-grain pattern that resembles timber when painted (“Saving Muizenberg’s rainbow huts,” Echo, July 22, 2021).

Ms Gorman said the repair campaign would be tackled in three stages. The first stage is the remaining 16 of the 21 huts along the eastern side of Muizenberg Beach. The second stage is the 16 huts near the river mouth, and the final stage will be the eight huts on Muizenberg’s main beach.

A meeting with the City has been scheduled for next week, and Ms Gorman said she would know more after that.

The trust plans to build a ramp for one of the huts, in front of Adaptive Surfing on the main beach, to make it wheelchair-friendly.

“We want to make the beach accessible to everyone,” she said.

The lifesaver’s tower at the end of the 21 huts on the eastern side would also be restored to its original state.

Ward concillor Aimee Kuhl said she was pleased that the iconic bathing huts would be restored.

“They are a well-loved feature for many families from across Cape Town, and their colourful appearance symbolises, for me, the beautiful diversity of our country. A huge thank you must go to the Save Our Beach Huts initiative for championing their refurbishment with such tenacity in the past months. A true example of active citizenship and public-private partnership,” she said.

The iconic Muizenberg beach huts. The lifesaver’s tower can be seen at the end of the 21 huts followed by the 16 huts at the river’s mouth.