The catching of fish and other sea creatures along the coast
of Hout Bay goes back in time. The Strandlopers (beach walkers, a small group of khoikhoi without their own stock) knew and lived off the food to be found along the coastline. The early settlers were also not slow in realizing the value of the sea’s harvest in feeding themselves.
The Hout Bay Canning Company began in 1903 when the R Morrow, a British registered sailing ship, ran aground at Mouille Point. The damaged ship was sold, by public auction, to French born Lucien Plessis for 195 pounds. The remains were towed to Hout Bay, beached and turned into a rock lobster processing factory. In the bottom of the hulk which was connected to the shore by gangways, several tons of stones kept it in an upright position. Close by were the sheds containing the machinery for working the ammonia plant used for the purpose of cold storage. Above the ballast in the hulk was a cold storage chamber and above the chamber the cabins had been transformed into offices. Later the processing was carried out in a factory built on land and the old ship housed just the stores and offices. The factory employed between 100-150 men and women, sold their product locally and to France. Deliveries between Hout Bay and Cape Town were made by a wagon drawn by four mules. The company’s name was painted on the side of the wagon.
Sadly, after eleven successful years, on 31 July 1914 the then small suburb of Hout Bay was shaken by an explosion. Six men died. Two more were badly injured (one of whom later died). Part of the lobster cannery was destroyed. In 1952 what remained of the cannery, was buried under a land reclamation project.
Today Hout Bay is a popular tourist centre, an attractive residential suburb with the harbour and surroundings a popular spot for photographers.