The rich history of the False Bay Echo

The mastheads of the various newspapers in the far south over the decades. The southern right whale can be seen on the third masthead. Picture: Fish Hoek Valley Museum

In September this year, the False Bay Echo will celebrate its 70th anniversary.

To commemorate this milestone, readers can look forward to a souvenir edition in September.

In the run-up to our birthday, we will publish a four-page pull-out every month which will commemorate the rich history of the far south.

We invite our readers to share their memories of the past with us by sending in old photographs, letters, or stories to our editor, Simoneh de Bruin, at

Fish Hoek was the first town in the south peninsula to publish a local newspaper, according to Fish Hoek Fossickings by John Clifford.

And while the False Bay Echo’s roots can be traced back to 1953, it was not the first newspaper in the valley.

In 1949, the Fish Hoek and District Clarion was established, but only one edition, comprising four pages, was ever published.

According to Joy Cobern’s book, Fish Hoek Looking Back, Pops Francis attended a meeting of the Business Association to talk about starting a local newspaper, to be called Fish Hoek News, in June 1951.

The cost of production was to be covered by the advertising and one thousand copies would be printed and distributed to the public free of charge.

It appeared monthly until October 1952 when it ceased publication, partly because of the lack of enthusiasm from local advertisers.

In 1953, the Business Association supported the publication of the Fish Hoek Magazine by Mr Playfair, but only three editions were ever published.

Later that year, Francis started the Fish Hoek Echo.

According to a newspaper article in the False Bay Echo, “Looking back on how the Echo got it name,” dated October 1998 by Jozef Gumiela – a watchmaker and jeweller who ran his business in Fish Hoek for 45 years – he was the one who came up with the name for the paper. In his article, he states that Francis was a “customer and friend” and came in one day to discuss starting a community newspaper.

“We also discussed the name, and I came up with the Echo being the voice of the people…”

Francis started the newspaper and soon took on an assistant, Cedryl Greenland, who had lived in Fish Hoek since 1921.

As the editor of the Fish Hoek Echo, he used the pen name Porpoise and Greenland wrote under the name of Dolphin.

In 1963, she took over the title, then a monthly paper.

The paper was printed in Caledon and railed to Fish Hoek where Greenland and a young helper would get out her basket on wheels and deliver it to all the local shops.

It is stated that trade was good on “Echo days” as everyone came to the shops to get their copy.

In June 1978, she sold the paper to Joe and Lyn Frylinck, who published it fortnightly and printed it in Paarl.

In 1984, it was bought by Fish Hoek-based estate agent and businessman Stoffel Lotz and his son Barry, a local church minister who later became the editor.

Greenland died in 1986.

In 1987, a new logo depicting the southern right whale was included on the Echo’s masthead, and, in 1989, the Echo went weekly and was distributed throughout the far south.

In the early 1990s Phillipa Taylor, of Clovelly, succeeded Barry Lotz as editor.

According to Chantel Erfort, editor-in-chief of Africa Community Media, the publishers of Cape Community Media, Cape Community Newspapers as they are today are a combination of publications that used to belong to Unicorn Publishing and publications that were part of The Cape Herald.

In 1989, Unicorn Publishing became part of the Argus Printing and Publishing Group. The False Bay Echo and its sister newspaper, Sentinel News, had been the two founding papers of Unicorn Publishing.

In 1995, Unicorn Publishing amalgamated with The Cape Herald titles (Southern Mail, Plainsman and Athlone News), and the entire group became known as Cape Community Newspapers under Independent Newspapers.

It was then that the system of a local editor was abolished, and David Hill, a Marina Da Gama resident, became the editor.

In 2007, Chantel Erfort, a former Echo reporter, succeeded Hill, as group editor.

In December last year, Erfort was promoted to editor-in-chief, and Simoneh de Bruin was appointed as acting editor.

The False Echo today distributes 31 590 free copies to residents throughout the far south every Thursday, including Lakeside, Cape Point, Kommetjie, Ocean View, Masiphumelele, and Noordhoek, among other areas.

Cape Community Media acting editor Simoneh de Bruin.