Photo by: Riaan Jacobs Photography
This quaint little museum is situated on the beach at Franskraal, near Gansbaai. It is a private museum funded and owned by Jan & SD Fourie, born and bred Strandvelders. The Strandveld is the region along the coast from Hermanus to the mouth of the Breede River. Jan and SD have a passion and thorough knowledge of the history of the area.
The Strandveld Museum is near Dyer Island where thousands of tourists from all parts of the world come to watch the great white sharks. The first permanent resident on the island was Sampson Dyer, an American slave. He departed from False Bay in 1806 to establish himself on the island, clubbing seals for an American company and was left there with adequate food and water rations and a small boat at his disposal. Later on they worked the guano deposits of the islands on the West coast of South Africa.
The museum was originally the house of the headman on Dyer Island whenever they came to visit the mainland. Some of the original furniture of the last headman is still in the museum. A large collection of the daily life of an island worker is to be seen in the museum.
The museum is in possession of the largest private collection of Birkenhead relics. The Birkenhead, a troopship, went down in 1852 – 437 souls were lost.
The museum, with Jan and SD, is a fountain of interesting stories. Both of them are avid storytellers and enjoy sharing their stories with visitors. Stories about the wooden doll with bright blue eyes, the small sewing machine, the talking bonnet, the travelling glasses and the harpoon are some of the most interesting ones.
Jan is a real character, he is a retired teacher, dived on many wrecks in the vicinity and, with his vast knowledge of the Strandveld and its history, has written four books on the area. (He also plays the concertina and harmonica!) His wife SD is a qualified National Tour Guide and also know the area like the back of her hand. SD also writes short stories and is freelance journalist for the local newspapers. She organises interesting tours of the area, the most famous of which is the very popular Ghost Tour.
Visitors may book an evening in the museum where they can enjoy a traditional three-course meal, cooked in the museum”s kitchen. SD usually ends the evening with a story and sometimes, if you are lucky, Jan plays his concertina!
Jan is known for his stories and musical talents across the globe – as is his absence from the museum on beautiful days. Call the tourism bureau or his wife so he can be tracked down if needs be.