Landmarks of Umhlanga, and the Demise of the Lifeguard Tower

In 1869, the first beach cottage was built in Umhlanga Rocks. Named ‘The Oyster Lodge’, it had a beautiful ocean view, and tea and scones were served to passers-by in a true spirit of hospitality. The cottage had a reflective roof, which served as a beacon for the captains of passing ships, to help them navigate their vessels around the rocky headland.


In 1954 Umhlanga’s distinctive red and white lighthouse came into operation, to warn ships away from the dangers of these rocks. The red sun umbrellas of the Oyster Box Hotel, which was built on the site of the original cottage, can be seen to the right of the lighthouse.


Another landmark for me, has always been the Lifeguard Tower at the main beach. As I walked past, I would often see the young volunteers up there, watching over the bathers. About a week ago, I was really surprised and rather sad, to see that the lifeguard tower which has been there as long as I can remember, was being demolished.


Every time we went for a walk along the promenade, I would take photos, as it slowly disintegrated.


At this stage, it was quite distressing to see how this once bright and beautiful tower, was reduced to a pathetically sad ruin with a bad hairdo.


It didn’t take too long before all that was left, was this forlorn heap of rubble.


And now the rubble is cleared, and work on the construction of the new one can begin.


Soon, a new and improved tower will rise in it’s place. It will be ‘C’ shaped, and the balcony will have a 180ΒΊ view of the beach. It’s expected to be completed in October, but sadly, we will have left long before then. I’m sure we’ll be over again some time next year, so I’ll be able to seeΒ  if I approve of the new design. In the mean time, the lifeguards will have to made do with this.





58 comments on “Landmarks of Umhlanga, and the Demise of the Lifeguard Tower

  1. Pingback: Urgent Public Health Warning – Umhlanga River Contamination

  2. Excellent picture story. One thing that annoys me about demolitions like this is that often there is little attempt made to recycle the materials. Certainly in Australia there are many lower income people who could use the building material, but so often it just ends up in landfill.

  3. We humans are just people πŸ˜€
    Over time, so we forget disadvantages of old stuff when we get new things – but but – as often we lose sight too, of benefits of old stuff when we lose those because of new stuff and get used to deterioration… πŸ™‚

  4. Love lighthouses, lovely photos Sylvia, but sad about the demise of one though. Still, will be great to see what the new one looks like, and not a moment too soon! Those rocks do look beautiful but treacherous! xx

  5. I hope the new one is better than the old. It will have a balcony with 180 view of the beach. I think that is very useful and should make the tower more pleasant to be on for the guards.

  6. Isn’t it funny how we get all nostalgic once we have started putting changes in place…..part of the process I guess is looking back at all the wonderful things which kept you here all these years….the loss…just before your life gets all filled up again with new things πŸ™‚

  7. It looks a beautiful location. Bet it was gorgeous in very early days with the first cottage. Your bad hair description was perfect. Good photo too.

    Interesting post with a good mix of history, views, and recording changes.

  8. Nice photo essay, Sylvia. It is sad to see familiar places and buildings go. Even when they are replaced by better-looking ones, there’d always be a place for the ones that were torn down.

  9. It occurs to me that we don’t have any lifeguards at our beaches. Then again, the water is so cold that it’s rare for anyone to try to swim. If someone does get in trouble from a rogue wave or rip tide, the coast guard helicopter generally comes to the rescue, but seems you’d have to hang on for quite awhile for it to help.

  10. Love the bad hairdo. It looks something like mine! The tower didn’t look bad enough to tear down. What’s with that, anyway? I hate waste, and it seems like tearing down buildings is such a waste, unless they are TOTALLY worn out! What if the ancient Greeks and Romans had done that with all their outmoded buildings?

  11. Nostalgic for me too. My family took that long drive down from Jo’ies, every year throughout my childhood. Anyone remember a beach shop that sold parasol shaped ices in rainbow colours? It’s my prevailing memory πŸ™‚ Got my very first kiss on Umhlanga beach aged 14!. Just thought about it and no, he wasn’t a lifesaver.

    • Yes, we also did it for years when our kids were growing up,and a;ways said we’d love to live here. At least we’ve had thirteen years of paradise (more or less). Now we feel it’s time to move on. Sweet about your first kiss. I don’t remember those ices though.

  12. It’s always sad to see a landmark disappear. I hope the new one will be ready in time for the summer holidays. Col or Krags will have to take progress pictures for you πŸ˜‰

  13. Another nostalgic post for me Sylvia. Last time I visited Umhlanga Rocks was with my youngest boy to see my daughter and her partner in 1997 and watching them play Frisbee on this beach. It sticks in my mind as I was stung by a bee on the way home (it flew through the open car window) and I reacted quite badly to it. My daughter was very concerned as I was flying home a few days later!

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