Plaques unveiled

Chris Taylor, Helen Zille and Paul Regenass at the site of the old Farmer Peck's Inn, now False Bay College.

In what was probably one of her last duties in office, Premier Helen Zille officially unveiled two plaques in Muizenberg, marking historic points of interest in the suburb.

One was dedicated to Agatha Christie’s love of surfing at Surfer’s Corner in Muizenberg, (“Muizenberg gets marked”, False Bay Echo, April 25).

The novelist and playwright wrote in her diary in 1922: “The thing I enjoyed most, I suppose, in the Cape Province, was the bathing. Whenever we could steal time off… we took the train and went to Muizenberg, got our surf boards and went surfing together.”

The other plaque marks the spot where the old Farmer Peck’s Inn once stood – a cut above the rest of his competition, Farmer Peck boasted beds without fleas for his customers.

The inn, built in 1826, was a famous watering hole for the wagoners going from Cape Town to Simon’s Town. It was the central point of the development around Muizenberg .

Students from the False Bay College tourism class attended the event, which was organised by the Muizenberg Historical Conservation Society.

Ms Zille called Muizenberg “the” surfing attraction on the Cape Peninsula and spoke with glee about Agatha Christie having surfed on a wooden longboard “right out there,” she said, pointing at the surf. “She probably used one of those very bathing boxes to change in, it may be good to find out which one,” Ms Zille said.

Ms Zille had found a description written by Christie of the swimming outfit she had donned at Muizenberg beach, in which she described herself as looking “remarkably well”.

She also suggested that a wooden longboard be placed alongside the plaque to show the kind of board Christie had used.

Jon P Driver-Jowitt was one of the residents at the event. He said he had lived on the coasts of California, Australia, the Mediterranean and New Zealand, but Muizenberg was the most beautiful by far.

“One can only hope that with more education about the significance of the area and its rich history, there will grow an appreciation of the area,” he said.

Another resident, Delene Burman, said she had learned to surf right where Agatha Christie had.

“I was 9 years old in 1949 and I had a wooden longboard just like she described. And I was out there alone all day, surfing. Nobody worried that it would be stolen or that I would drown even,” she laughed.

She and her friends would picnic in Tokai Forest after surfing, taking their boards with.

“We would surf down the mountain slopes on top of the pine needles.”

She looked across the bay. “We live in paradise,” she said.

The plaque celebrating Agatha Christie’s surfing exploits was placed on the façade of the Empire Building.

The plaques were organised by the Muizenberg Historical Conservation Society which was founded in 1983 to promote the conservation of all historical aspects of Muizenberg. The society manages Het Posthuys (the oldest building on the False Bay coast) for the South African Heritage Resources Agency and Rhodes Cottage on behalf of the City of Cape Town.