False Bay

Kalk Bay, Books and the Theatre

It is one of my favorite little towns along the coast and everyone should pop in for a look.  Here is a little bit about the town.  

The modern day history of Kalk Bay kind of started when the Dutch East India Company proclaimed Simon's Bay a winter anchorage for their ships in 1742.

Kalk Bay became a mini-port for the Dutch. 

Then the British took over the Cape and the Royal Engineers built a proper 'hard' road to Simon's Town and Kalk Bay fell into disuse, but not for long, and by 1820 it was again the hive of activity as the whaling boom brought much enterprise to Kalk Bay, especially as whaling was prohibited in Simon's Town.  Whaling was the third biggest income earner for the Cape Colony after agriculture and wine making, and Kalk Bay housed three of the main whaling stations at the Cape.

The whaling boom was, however, short-lived as killing the female Southern Right Whale who had come to calve in the warm waters of the False Bay, soon resulted in almost total extinction of the whale popoulation around these shores.  

In the mid-1840s a Filipino crew who were ship-wrecked at Cape Point settled at Kalk Bay.  They found the climate most favourable but above all the abundance of the fish in the False Bay was almost too good to be true.

The Filipino families who stayed - as some went home after America got involved -, some 60 odd, still have descendants in the village to this day and the names of de la Cruz, Fernandez,Menigo and Erispe still appear in St James catholic School register.

The population of Kalk Bay was further augmented when many emancipated slaves at the Cape who originated from Batavia, Java and Malaysia joined the community at Kalk Bay.  Fishing was their life-skill and it was not long before they played an important role in the community.  When the railways arrived in 1883 the population of Kalk Bay grew rapidly and the way of life changed dramatically in this small fishing village.  It was now possible to work 'up the line' in Wynberg or Cape Town and live at the seaside, a phenomenon that was previously not possible.  This population growth resulted in more homes, boarding-houses, hotels, schools and shops, and an economic infrastructure which the Kalk Bay municipality (1895–1913) successfully created.

Today the village has once again changed its character and although the harbour and fishing still operates at low key, the village has become the centre of antique, art and bric-a-brac shops with many outstanding restaurants who, with excellent food, maintain the unique and special character of this historic harbour village.

Kalk Bay Books - history of the building
Kalk Bay Books occupies premises that have a varied and interesting history. 
'The saloon and public bar formed part of an overall extension to the Old Masonic Hotel. Beside die Klipkantientjie, this single-storey extension had seven bedrooms, a storeroom and a large billiard room, and was in fact larger than the Masonic Hotel. After the Masonic Hotel was demolished in 1916 the extensions became known as The Annex to the Kalk Bay Hotel, which was later renamed the Majestic Hotel. 
Kalk Bay Books - The Story
Today, instead of tall tales being told around the bar counter, tales are sold at a shop counter, which was specially designed with a nod to the history of the building.
Owner of the shop, Ann Donald, former editor of Fairlady magazine, made her dream of opening a book shop a reality in December 2006. The planning and preparation for opening all took place in the Donald family sitting room, informally renamed the Warehouse for the duration of the set-up period. In mid-November 2006, with the help of family and friends, the first books were moved from the Warehouse to the site of Kalk Bay Books. The ceiling-high wooden shelves and interior of the shop were designed by local designer, Ray Kilian.
Described as the book shop with the best view in the world, the shop is a gathering place for locals and visitors alike, who browse and buy books, share a glass of wine or two with visiting authors, and gather for new book launches or discussions. The leather sofa invites customers to spend some time considering the books on offer, and to catch up on international book news with the New York Review of Books and other reading matter provided for their interest.

The Kalk Bay Theatre (KBT) is a 78-seater theatre located at 52 Main Road, Kalk Bay in the old Kalk Bay DR church, built in 1876 and is a heritage protected building.

The building has been lovingly converted into an intimate theatre with a bar area serving light meals, snacks and drinks on the upper floor. KBT offers a unique night of entertainment. Theatre, sustenance and quality time with friends all under the same roof.
The ground floor theatre has 78 comfortable seats crafted out of beech wood and modelled around the comfortable Morris chair. The theatre is a thrust stage with the audience on three sides. This allows for a very intimate theatrical experience. Shows run for four to eight weeks in the venue. Performances are from Wednesday to Saturday night [and sometimes Sundays as well] at 20h30 with “THEATRESPORTS” are resident at KBT every Tuesday evening at 20h30. Matinee performances can be arranged. The various shows are normally announced by email and on our website [www.kbt.co.za].

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