THERE are many stories and anecdotes to be told and shared about what Strand used to be like ‘in the good old days’. Taking a fresh look at the coastal town in its current form – compared to what it used to be and where it is heading – will in coming months prove a useful exercise during the process of forging ahead with the Future Strand initiative.
John and Liz Niehaus are a couple who have fond and vivid memories, as well as bright ideas for the future. Their recollections are but a few of the many that will be shared as the wheels of taking stock start rolling.
They both grew up in Strand, but then moved to Johannesburg and Pretoria after school where they lived for more than 40 years. They have been back for around four years and have been involving themselves with various efforts which John describes as follows: “… to develop something in the Strand to make it a more vibrant town which will be a first choice place to live in as well as place of choice for tourists.
“The Strand indeed has the potential to become what we dream for it to be, and therefore well done to SBID (Strand Business Improvement District) and the team it has created to start the FUTURE STRAND project.”
John goes on to say “To me it seems essential that one of the many ingredients to create something spectacular, is the involvement of the entire community.”
For the Strand CBD John places a high premium on a ‘seaside-look’, crime-free village with amongst other things convenience and specialty shopping, eating and entertainment facilities to provide for the needs of residents and visitors alike.
He further envisages a clean and safe promenade and unspoilt beach to make it attractive and enjoyable for all. It would also be great to create sufficient reason for individuals and families to settle in the Strand and to convert the existing smaller old houses into charming upgraded residences. Parktown and Melville in Johannesburg are examples of this kind of trend, he says.
John’s wife, Liz, says having grown up in the Strand in the 1950/1960’s when it was a charming little seaside village, inevitably makes you want to turn back the clock in some ways. She longs for the charm to be revived and enhanced.
She points out that the limited vacant land in the CBD has through the years resulted in shopping centres and malls being built on the outskirts, offering a wider shopping experience to residents. In days gone by little speciality shops had created a continental, seaside atmosphere where locals did their shopping.
“I remember that fishing boats were anchored at the Jetty. They went out from the slipway at the Jetty and returned laden with fresh fish which was either bought right there from the fishermen or from the fish cart which came around to the houses. Everyone came running out at the call of the fishmonger’s horn.”
Like many others, Liz has a dream for Strand: “What I long for most is not another big, bustling city but a return to a crime-free, safe seaside village, with fresh fish being sold from boats, little shops specialising in bread, or flowers, fruit and vegetables, or chocolates or art.” She visualizes these as “speciality shops with striped canopies over their doors or shop windows, outdoor cafes with bright umbrellas and inviting decor.” She admits that “our famous south-easter might pose a problem”!
She says in her opinion Strand should remain a village with a continental atmosphere. “There are not many beachfront spaces available to create speciality shops or cosy, attractive coffee shops, bistros and restaurants, which are desperately needed to support the CBD. The vacant shops in the CBD could serve this need but above all, good ‘operators’ are needed,” she says. “The most successful shops, businesses and restaurants in the Strand are those that are attractive and well managed.”
Many more visions and dreams for Future Strand have already started finding their way to the discussion tables and undoubtedly there will be many more to come. Some of these even involve prospective zip-line adventures and more! Stories, anecdotes and photographs can be shared by sending them by email to Grant Goodwin at the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org