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All About Betty’s Bay

All About Betty’s Bay

So Who Were Jack…… and Harold and Arthur?

In the 1930’s three businessmen thought that the residents of Cape Town deserved to be able to get away from the ‘smoke’ of the city and escape to a place of beauty.  With this thought in mind they formed a company called The Hangklip Beach Estate and purchased some land, which in today’s terms would sort of run from Rooi Els (10kms to the west of Jack’s) to the Palmiet River, which you cross when leaving Betty’s Bay heading east. Their idea was to create an environment where people could enjoy the spectacular scenery of the sea and mountains plus the clean ocean air.

The three men of the Hangklip Estate were:

Harold Porter, Town Planner by profession and now famous for creating the garden that was originally called Shangri-La and is currently part of the National Botanical Gardens of SA.

Arthur Youlden after whose daughter Dorothy Betty, our little village is named and Gerald ‘Jack’ Clarence a mining engineer from the (then) Transvaal.  In 1934 Jack was only 46 years old and in a book written by his wife after his death she tells us that if it has not been for Jack the road along the coast to Gordon’s Bay (R44) may never been built.

(from “Hello Children” by Beryl Clarence)

If you are privileged at any time to drive in the Cape from Steenbras River Bridge to Kleinmond-strand you will pass over a beautiful road which was brought into existence by Jack, and which is named for him by a public body in recognition of his vision, faith, determination and perseverance. For without him the whole project would have been abandoned.

If you ever have the opportunity, look at this road – at the good tarred surface, at the location of it; the planting with grass and creepers of the scarred sloped; the stone walls; the bays for parking and then realise if you can, that this road was made when everyone tried to tell Jack that it was quite impossible for it to be built. There was no money for it and it was only needed to go to a place that nobody knew much about – Hangklip Estate. But then, you see Hangklip was Jack’s baby, his great absorbing interest, his main enthusiasm at that time. He loved the place and the whole idea and vision he had for it and he was determined that this wonderful stretch of coast should be developed, not exploited, into townships and made available to the public as a big holiday resort, so of course he had to have a good direct road from Cape Town to it. He set out to get that road which everyone said he would never get and there it is today for everyone to enjoy.”

So as you travel that road think of those men who so many years ago had a vision, and as you join us at Jack’s raise your glass or tea cup to his vision that today has given you the opportunity to share in a little piece of beauty…..

(also from “Hello Children” by Beryl Clarence)

“Perhaps the most beautiful Marine Drive in South Africa, looking over False Bay towards Cape Point would never have become a reality without the perseverance and vision that was part and parcel of Jack’s nature. The drive was built at great cost and bears his name today. It has given the public direct access to an area which in the past was closed to them unless they were prepared to scramble over craggy mountain slopes for 13 or 14 miles. Those who know will tell you that this drive compares more than favourably with any Italian or French Riviera and leads you to Hangklip Estate which is unique in its natural beauty, skirted by two magnificent mountain ranges – the Kogelberg and the Paardeberg – whilst its 25 mile coast line is lapped by the blue of the Indian Ocean.”*

*Today we know that it is the Atlantic that laps our shores here in Betty’s Bay, but back then the myth that the oceans changed at Cape Point from Atlantic to Indian seems to have been more widely believed.