Hermanus History Society Library.

The library holdings comprise donations from authors and editors of material, donations from members, and purchases made by the Committee relating to the work of the Society.

A list of the books and other documents presently in the library can be made available and may be loaned by members

The Chairperson, Angela Heslop, has agreed to act as Librarian and store the collection at her home. For the remainder of this year she will be available to issue and receive material on Monday mornings, provided you contact her first. Her contact details are: landline: 028 312 1663; cell: 072 609 8655;


Hermanus History

Hermanus history has unique elements: a healthy environment, marine attractions (fish, sharks, abalone and whales), and 'wild flowers' in profusion. The climate drew the wealthiest classes for holidays. In many cases it led to a lifelong interest in the town. Prime ministers, governors-general. European aristocracy, artists, writers and actors created their histories beyond Hermanus. But they had an influence on Hermanus. These nine essays examine the better-known of these visitors. What were their experiences in Hermanus? What were their lives beyond Hermanus? The case includes a general manager of South Africa Railways, an 'elephant whisperer', a recipient of the Victoria Cross, and the organiser of 'the Great Escape'. Each touched the town and the town folded them into it's history. Click here to View more Books

Robert Hart

Private Robert Hart, just 18, in the green-and-black kilt of the Argyllshire Highlanders, gazed in awe at the wild skyline of fantastic mountains in the Cape spring of 1795. This was at the end of a four—month voyage of confinement, scurvy, and general misery in a troopship. Hart did not guess that this would become his home and he himself the first of all English-speaking South Africans. Had he kept a diary, it could have been taken as a text book to the history of the Colony — from the arrival of the British troops at the first taking of the Cape, through the uprising in Graaif-Reinet, the arrival of the 1820 Settlers and the ensuing turbulent frontier wars — until his death in 1865. He served as adjutant of the Cape Regiment, he chose the site where Grahamstown now stands, he took Thomas Pringle on a memorable journey through the lichen-hung forests of the frontier, he managed the Somerset farm on the slopes of the Boschberg to supply produce to the British troops engaged in the hostilities and when this became Somerset East, he developed his own farm, the first fine wool grower in the Eastern Province. He was a close friend of Piet Retief and lived to see Port Elizabeth become, with Grahamstown, the trading base of the Free State and Transvaal Voortrekkers. Hart was a sincerely religious man who always had the welfare of the Presbyterian Church in mind. He was host to visiting missionaries who toured the country on horseback and would ask them to hold services in his house or garden which his Hottentot labourers and domestic servants could attend.

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Sink the Birkenhead!

This book is not a work of fiction. Because of the way I choose to live and a certain innate curiosity, facts came to my notice that compel me to make them known. The wreck of HMS 'Birkenhead' which I began to explore half a century ago eventually led to the discovery how a great Xhosa Chief planned the destruction of British troopships without which the British Army were powerless to invade his country

If ever Black Affirmative Action is mentioned it should be noted that Xhosa Chief Maqoma initiated the action when he sank the troopship HMS 'Birkenhead' in 1852.

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Grave Encounters

THE GRAVES of the dead lie buried around and beneath human habitations, and eventually they spread like a sub-terranean carpet beneath burgeoning cities and towns. In time, their markers - coffins, headstones, cairns, and wreaths - all disappear leaving an intermittent layer of bones. These rest undisturbed until space on the surface runs out, at which point they are exposed and excavated by the demands and consequences of urban growth. Gasps of wonderment, sighs of pity, and moans of fear, often greet the newly risen dead, but once they are reclaimed, voices rise as the living explore and contest ownership of their long-forgotten antecedents. The dead are scoured for markers of commonality, for the horrified thrill that emanates from the sight of death, and for what-ever treasures may have been buried in the graves. Grave Encounters explores this phenomenon as it plays out in the contested spaces of present-day Cape Town. Within its city bowl, ringed by sea and high mountains, lies a thousand-year record of human burial that now infringes on fabulously valuable real estate. It falls to hiningists. archaeologists, archivists, and civic authorities to retrieve and interpret the remains, and it becomes a burden taken on by their putative descendants to reclaim and control the bones themselves.

This wonderfully illustrated book describes these processes of discovery, retrieval and possession within an enchanting framework of empathetic scholarship. Archival documents and associated artefacts tell some-thing about political changes, social class, immigration and slavery, while the archaeology, physical and forensic anthropology, and chemistry, take things several steps further. Although not a single burial has a name nor a recognisable face, the bones, teeth, burial practices and chemical compositions reveal life histories that suggest where the long-dead people were born, what they thought about death, and the indisputable fact that whether they were rich or poor, free or unfree, they all lived and died within communities who respected their beliefs. This is a book that reveals the history of South Africa's Mother City - captivating, picturesque, and downright spooky - that rests on the long-forgotten bones of the people who made it.

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Life at the Cape over a hundred years ago

This fascinating book gives a day-to-day picture of life in Cape Town and its neighboring suburbs a century ago.

The accomplished and observant Lady has her own unique style for describing 'Fun and excitement at an auction sale' and 'a grand excursion up Table Mountain'

'The 15 lithographs chosen from the work of Thomas Bowler (who was the Lady's contemporary at the Cape) make their own contribution to the atmosphere and social background of the scene.'

This book will be enjoyed by young and old alike, and by all who have a nostalgia for the Cape/ It will make a delightful gift - especially for friends and family overseas.

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