SNIPPETS FROM THE EARLY DAYS by MARGARET PARKES
Knysna’s first car was a Benz, ordered for Mr. Harden of the Standard Bank by a Mr. Weeks of Coote, Noble & Co. (where Russell’s store is today). It was assembled with the help of the handbook in 1906. Mr. Weeks himself bought himself a car from the USA – a Delahaye.
The first Model T Ford in Knysna was ordered by a Mr. Thesen and arrived on his ship the S. S.”Agnar”.
In November 12912, the arrival of Mr. Wotton’s Overland brought the total number of cars in Knysna to 12. It is recorded that the more powerful car at the time belonged to Mr. Horn, who owned the Royal Hotel. The make is not known, but it packed a whopping 22 h.p.! The first garage in town was located where the carwash behind Pick & Pay is today.
Magistrate Mr. A.G. Smidt (who founded the Knysna Yacht Club) drove a Standard, and Dr. Haw a Swift. There were Napiers and Humbers too and Lilly Basson caused a stir when she arrived in a cloud of smoke and dust at a Duthie garden party at Belvidere Manor in her new Cadillac. A Darracq was delivered from the quayside to the town on the old ‘Coffee Pot’ logging train and a car service was operated between Knysna and George using Hupmobiles, but with frequent delays at Bernard’s Drift in Rheenendal
In 1924 a new Chevrolet cost £237-10 (inclusive of 5 cord tyres!)
By 1932 there were 400 cars registered in Knysna. In September 1393 a Mr. Colin Cloete drove most of the day and through the night from Johannesburg to Knysna in a record 22 hours and 20 minutes! Crossing the Knysna River in the beginning was over Oudrift – the old wagon crossing. A wooden bridge was built in 1893, followed by a concrete bridge in 1915, which had a very short life. Ot was washed away the following year! The pontoon was used until the steel ‘red’ bridge was completed in 1923. This served Knysna until the current ‘white’ bridge was commissioned in 1987.
The GRMC is indebted to Knynsa historian Mrs. Margaret Parkes for the above.