Alexander Bay revisited

Yesterday (15th) I drove to Alexander Bay  to buy a few things at Sentra Supermarket and decided to take photographs in the town itself to give you an idea of what is happening there.

The place is named after a prospector in the region from 1838 to 1848 named James Edward Alexander. Little did he know of the fabulous riches that he transported his goods over to be shipped from just south of the river mouth. The diamonds were only discovered in 1928 and it was proclaimed a State Alluvial Digging under the Department of mines with a work force of 45 whites under strict supervision.,

The outer perimeter of the  town was fenced off but had also been divided inside by fencing, the miners in the southern section and their families in the northern Section. The men were only allowed out every 150 days for 2 weeks. This inner fence only came down in 1974.

I  read  a little pamphlet that tells of how things were round 1980 -” Alexander Bay is a modern mining village with all necessary amenities and facilities with attractive living quarters, vegetable gardens, lucerne fields and orchards”. It certainly is not that way now.

Even today there is a distinct North /  South feel to the town – mining area South and houses, shops, schools etc. in the North and the town is still fenced off and one has to sign in to gain entrance. Of course where they do the actual mining is still a high security section today.

Welcome to Alexander Bay.
Welcome to Alexander Bay.
The boom gate where one has to sign in.
The boom gate where one has to sign in.

Once through the boom you can only turn right as left takes you to the mining area which is high security.

I think I am going to let the images do the talking and just offer a few comments. The one thing I will say is that the town has the feel of everything going downward. Most places look dirty and unkempt although you can see where special efforts have been made to spruce things up.

Old diamond safe house
Old diamond safe house

They found over 2500 carats of diamonds under that stone stuck on the wall

Old church (I think NG) now used as a creche
Old church (I think NG) built in the 1930’s is now used as a crèche
The swimming pool
The swimming pool

I believe they are going to repair the pool and use it for diver training


The Clinic

The Pharmacy

The Pharmacy

The clinic is used for consulting and has no beds and the Pharmacy is not open at all.

Interestingly I did bump into the newly appointed doctor for the area and he is from the US. He knew my fathers name. He too was a doctor, and we had a nice long chat in English.

Old derelect shop

Old derelict shop

Derelect building

Derelict building

The 9 hole golf course.

The 9 hole golf course.

The fairways and rough are the same and the greens and T boxes are not too great.

The sports field

The sports field

Looks fine from far but on closer inspection the stands are starting to fall apart.

The shopping centre

The library and shopping centre.

Because everything has to be brought in by road the prices of all goods is pretty horrendous.

In June last year over 200 of the employees were offered and took severance packages so about 1200 people have moved from Alexander Bay. There are huge fights going on in the community as to what has happened to all the millions of rands that have been pumped into the region and they are, according to the local newspaper, “Gat vol” with everything and are demanding answers.

Wild flowers near the golf course

Wild flowers near the golf course

May the above image be a sign of better things to come for the people of Alexander Bay

I have now consolidated all the pix taken in and around Alexander Bay at this link – Alexander Bay Pix


  1. Hanlie on July 16th, 2009

    It looks like a ghost town! That’s terribly sad, because I think it used to be quite a nice place to live, from what I’ve heard.

  2. Brendon on July 16th, 2009

    Wow, apart from the pictures of the golfer and the flowers it looks like a good place for a suicide. Looks amazingly sad and run down, but I’m sure a very interesting surreal place to visit.

  3. pbdphoto on July 16th, 2009

    @Hanle If one reads the description of what it was like round 1980, and probably up to a few years ago, I am sure it was a nice place to live.

  4. pbdphoto on July 16th, 2009

    @ Brendon It is a bit surreal driving round there but one thing I must say is that all the people I met and spoke to were really friendly and willing to go out of their way to help. Even as you drive around most people lift a hand in greeting. Bit different to Cape Town.

  5. Brendon on July 17th, 2009

    Yes, I think thats very true. Years and years ago I went on a fishing trip up the West Coast, and a strong memory is that all the people I met were amazingly warm, friendly and welcoming.

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