In the early 1890s, one of the first teachers at St Peters School in Hermanus was Miss Magdalena Neethling (1877-1935), whose family owned a farm near Riviersonderend. She was always known as “Swallow”. The usual explanation for the nickname (which she embraced) is that she moved quickly from task to task and seemed to be busy all the time. She rented rooms in the Sanatorium during school terms and returned to the family home for holidays. Her usual route to school took her past an unsightly triangular piece of ground, ‘leftover’ from a recent survey of the first plots in the area. In about 1912, she petitioned the Council to have the site converted to a public park. The Council replied that they would give her permission to access the land, but that developing the park would be entirely her responsibility, including raising any money required. With regular assistance from Frikkie van Eeden, a retired gentleman who lived nearby, she created a typical Victorian garden, enclosed by a wooden fence. The garden became a favourite place with residents. After some time the Council decided to recognise her efforts, and the park was officially named “Swallow Park”. It became a municipal responsibility and the Council donated two fountains. Over time several images of Swallow Park have come to light, and the photos catch its changing appearance. Why not visit the park over the coming holidays? The more residents visit and are seen to use the park, the lower the chances of the park deteriorating, as it has done in the past. There is often parking in Marine Drive and Park Lane, or in the parking area of the Waterkant building (Click’s). There is a wooden arch at the Park Lane entrance, with a memorial plaque erected by the Municipality and the Hermanus History Society.
The original caption to this image refers to the Park as 'vervalle'. It did fall into disuse for periods of time in the 1940s and 1950s.
The original wooden arch at the entrance off Park Lane, probably 1920s
Park in 1930s. Image: Old Harbour Museum. Image by T D Ravenscroft
Swallow Park in early 1950s. Image courtesy of Old Harbour Museum
The earliest image of the Park laid out in Victorian style. Note the wooden fence, made of jarrah wood and one of the fountains donated by the Hermanus Municipality. Image: Old Harbour Museum
Colour image of the fountain
Swallow Park in 2016