History of the V&A Waterfront

Matt Somers By Matt Somers, 30th Aug 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>Africa>South Africa>Cape Town & The Cape Peninsula

Cape Town’s distinctive and popular leisure, retail, commercial and residential development in the city’s historic working harbour, the inimitable V&A Waterfront, is one of the most successful port developments in the world - here's a short history of the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront.

A whimsical dream

Initially a whimsical dream of prominent Capetonians intent on re-connecting the city with its ancient port, the dream soon evolved into a majestic reality and today, the V&A Waterfront jealously guards its reputation as being the most visited attraction in South Africa.

The development of the Waterfront has its origins in early colonial history when ships, filled with provisions, would regularly run aground in Table Bay, a bay that was never an efficient sanctuary during the winter months. Although the early Dutch colonisers shored up the coastline with a system of fortifications, many ships were lost to the tempestuous winter storms.

Table Bay in transition

All came to a head in 1858 when 30 ships were wrecked in a violent storm, immediately prompting Lloyds of London to refuse cover on ships wintering in Table Bay. Plans were drawn up to construct a harbour and none other than the joint namesake of the Waterfront, and Queen Victoria’s second son, HRH Prince Alfred, poured the first stone to begin construction!

The Alfred Basin was duly built and followed by the Victoria Basin 35-years later but one unenviable result of the new harbour, and a later development in the 1940’s, was the fact that the reclaimed Foreshore severed the city from the sea, denying local inhabitants access to a significant city attraction.

During the years of international sanctions against apartheid, the port was underutilised and many areas became derelict wastelands. Fortunately prominent citizens began lobbying to re-connect the city with its port in the 1980’s and in 1988 the South African Cabinet accepted a proposal to redevelop the historic docklands around Victoria and Alfred Basins as a mixed use area.

A successful renewable project

The V&A Waterfront is, in effect, a successful renewable project where many of the original, historical landmarks have been incorporated into the new development, ensuring a fine synergy between distinctly modern and authentically dated.

V&A Waterfront – Cape Town’s entertainment icon

After several phases of construction, the V&A Waterfront boasts a consummate collection of shops, restaurants, pubs and upmarket hotels. Robben Island boat trips, Cape Peninsula helicopter flips and champagne sunset cruises on luxury yachts all depart from this spectacular entertainment icon.

One of the majestic and incomparable jewels in the regal crown, however, are the wonderfully opulent Cape Town luxury apartments, positioned on the V&A Marina, with sweeping views of both Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean, peer down on private yacht moorings below!

A few good links about Cape Town and the V&A Waterfront

1. Things to Do in Cape Town
Now that the World Cup is over, here are a few other attractions and things to do in the Mother City.
2. Cape Town Travel Safety Tips
Like any other major city in the world, travelling to Cape Town requires a few simple precautions and a lot of common sense.
3. Tips for an indulgent Cape Town Holiday
When money is no option - the luxury holiday guide to Cape Town
4. Whale Watching in Hermanus
Great Wikinut page about Hermanus - a popular whale watching area in the Western Cape.
5. The V&A Waterfront on Wikipedia
Read more about the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront on Wikipedia


Cape Town, Cape Town Waterfront, History Of Cape Town, History Of South Africa, South Africa, South African History, Tourism, Travel, Travelling, Va Waterfront

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author avatar Matt Somers
I love reading and writing about different topics. I'm interested in anything to do with art, history, travel and sports.

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author avatar James R. Coffey
30th Aug 2010 (#)

You have a nice poetic lilt to your writing style!

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author avatar Matt Somers
31st Aug 2010 (#)

Thank you for the kind comment!

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