The first article stirred up a coupla memories amongst the baalies, and we got some more detail behind the spot names.
One of the original Millers Locals, Marc Reid, recalls being the “dawn patrol” ou, cos he lived closest to Millers – at no1 Second Avenue, next to where Marine Towers is now (wasn’t built in those days). He had to check the surf then jump on his bike and mission off to go wake up Turtle, Rodney Robinson and John Davies for an early morning surf before school. No bbm’s in those days, the ou’s had to use leg power!
Marc and his crew were the 2nd generation Millers Locals, and grommets to Mush Hide, Gavin Rudolph, Grumpy Paine, John Scheepers, Larry Levine and Leon Killian. It was already called Millers in those days, as it was at Millers Point – although no-one knew where the name originally came from, as it pre-dated surfing.
Some debate about whether it’s Millers with an ‘e’ or an ‘a’. We’ll just stick with it as E! Cos hey, apparently E makes you happy, and surfing Millers makes you happy too!
Marc recalls Avo’s having plenty more sand in those years, and broke behind the rock even on small days. Back then no-one had leashes, so getting rolled before you made it past the rock had some pretty dire consequences for your equipment. Turns out the lifesavers might be behind naming Denville, as this was their stretch of turf. Maybe some ou named Denville?
Nose-riding comp at Millers circa 1960ish. Note Millers spelled with an E here!
Another baalie I tracked down was Gary Cooper, he started surfing Fence back in ’64. He recalls the barbed wire fence was about 150 - 200m from the harbour wall – and ran right out into the water on Spring Highs. It had signs on it saying Property of the SA Harbour & Railways - Keep Out! Obviously the surfers didn’t pay attention as usual. We seem to be good at that.
With the extension to the harbour wall the sand started building up at Fence, with the result that the fence eventually got covered up by sand completely - it was never removed, and there are probably still remnants of it under the sands of time!
Fence used to work just about all the way to the fence itself. There were 3 or 4 peaks and then a deadly right just to the left of the fence on big swells. Funny enough, it worked better at low tide back in those days, spitting like a mean mini-Pipeline. It mellowed out at high tide, and broke far less boards.
The King's Beach lifesavers were the early stylers there.....Neville Mandy in particular. When the "new generation" arrived, Gavin Rudolph stole the limelight most of the time, but Gary reckons there were many hardcore Fence locals who formed part of the original early shortboard revolution and shredded.
Gary remembers surfing there on his 5’2 flexi-tail twin fin. Here’s a shot of him shaping a new 5’6 channel bottom circa ’82, with his lighties watching on. Dig the Magnum PI moustache and gummies...
You wanted a board back then - you made your own. Gary and lighties.
I also asked a Bayworld’s renowned local marine historian, Jennie Bennie, if she had any background as to the beach names. Turns out Humewood got its name from the suburb between the S bend and the Shark River, which was named after William Hume. He was born in Grahamstown back in 1837; and died in PE in 1916. He was a member of the Harbour Board and the Legislative Council in Port Elizabeth. Dude had some clout, so he got a ‘burb named after him. Little did he know he’d also end up with a killer surf spot to his name.
The story behind Shark Rock is pretty cool. The river that flowed out into the sea at Hummies used to kind of sink away into the sand as it got to the beach. The Dutch referred to it as “sak weg” – “sinking away” for the new gen kids who can’t speak Afrikaans. So somehow “sak” got bastardised into “shark” by the English (kinda like how Ashwin Willemse the SuperSport commentator manages to mangle the word “Sharks”!) – and so the rocky outcrop became known as Shark Rock. Had bogger all to do with sharks, which is relieving for those of us that surf there....well, used to surf there. It ain’t a wave no more.
Pollok beach, home to Pipe, was named after the Pollok Hotel that used to stand where the present Summerseas is today – before it became the legendary (and infamous) Summerstrand Hotel. Buildinds here dated back to the 1890’s, when the sand dunes were reclaimed and allocated for use of a hotel. The dude who built it came from Scotland, and was called Pollok – so guess what, he named the hotel after himself!
Have started to investigate the wild-side names, so should get back to you on those pretty soon...
If you missed Part 1 - the original feature about how the Bay's surf spots got their names, check it out HERE.
The river that "sakked weg" became known as the Shark River. Flowing out at Hummies.