Jager’s Walk turns 90

A recent picture of Jager’s Walk.

Jager’s Walk, known to locals as “the catwalk”, celebrated its 90th anniversary on Monday January 9.

The cement walkway that stretches along the False Bay coastline from Fish Hoek Beach to Sunny Cove was named after the first mayor and freeman of Fish Hoek, Herman Scott Jager, according to Joy Cobern’s book, Fish Hoek Looking Back.

Mr Jager was honoured with the freedom of Fish Hoek on October 27, 1959, after serving on the Village Management Board and town council for 32 years.

He also introduced the Fish Hoek Town Planning Scheme and was the first president and life member of the Fish Hoek Bowling Club.

According to Malcolm Cobern’s book, Story of the Fish Hoek Valley, access to Fish Hoek Beach was improved after the establishment of the railway line in Fish Hoek in 1890.

One of the main attractions, the book says, was the rocky coastline with its tidal pools and the rocks from which visitors fished.

However, one of the drawbacks was the difficulty of making one’s way through the “rough and tumbled boulders”, and this led to the public using the railway line to reach their favourite spots.

In 1931, the Village Management Board came up with the idea of a cemented path from the beach to as far as Sunny Cove station.

An engineer was asked to draw up plans and to provide the board with an estimated cost of construction.

The walkway was to be built in two phases with the first from the beach to the third subway and the second section from there to Sunny Cove station.

In November 1931, the engineer submitted his plans and cost estimate to the board for approval.

The estimated cost for the first section was £459.19 and £121.11 for the second section. A contract was drawn up and tenders called for.

By August 1932, nine tenders had been received and J H Tyler’s tender for £440 had been accepted for the first phase and the contract was signed on the same day. The work was to be completed by October 31, 1932.

Tenders were then called for the construction of the second phase of the walkway.

Mr Cobern states that “price hikes must have been just as bad as they are now as the tenders were far above the original estimate”.

Eight tenders were received and James Gordon’s tender of £275 was accepted and a contract was signed on November 21, 1932, with the date of completion on January 15, 1933.

Mr Gordon completed the job on January 9, 1933.

Mr Gordon’s granddaughter, Mary Smorenburg, said her grandfather was a very well-known builder in Fish Hoek.

She said he had visited Fish Hoek in the 1920s to build a few bungalows but had later relocated to the area and lived in Clovelly.

She said he had also built the St Margaret’s Anglican Church, on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Kommetjie Road, and her parents later married there.

“Our family has a long history with the church,” she said.

According to Michael Walker’s book, The Far South, the foundation stone of St Margaret’s Anglican Church, which was described as a “Swiss-style chalet church design” was laid on April 4 1934. The architect was PC Walgate, who had once worked with Sir Herbert Baker.

Jager’s Walk after the construction of phases one and two.
Fish Hoek Beach visitors relaxing on the rocks before the construction of Jager’s Walk.
St Margaret’s Anglican Church in 1935.