Plett’s Old Timber Shed

As you know, I have been researching my family tree, which necessitated a road trip to Knysna and Plettenberg Bay.  Pete grew up in Plett so as is customary, needed to go and check out the surf to see if there were any waves worthy of being surfed and on our drive home I asked, as I often do when I see something unknown “What’s that?”

The “What’s that” is Plett’s Old Timber Shed.

“Johann Jacob Jerling obtained a contract to build a timber shed near what is today the ski-boat launching beach, where the huge boles could be stored until it was possible to ship them out. This “Houtschuur” had to be 200 feet long, 22 feet wide and 13 feet high and all the woodwork had to be of yellowwood.

Johann Jacob owed this considerable betterment of his fortunes to the strong demand for timber for a variety of purposes at the Cape, where it was needed for the construction of wharves, bridges, ox wagons, buildings and other essentials. Today the timber shed, twice partially restored in the past 200 years, is a National Monument and among Plettenberg bay’s oldest historical sites.

The walls were made of huge blocks of stone, fitted together without any cement.

The strong but untrained workers used only a simple block-and-tackle to fit the stones into place. The sturdy walls were then covered with a slightly sloping reed roof to keep the timber dry. Unfortunately one clause in Jerling’s contract specified that the timber work must be of yellowwood, timber that is not durable for any length of time, when exposed to the elements. Within only 16 years it was reported by the next official to come this way that the reed roof had fallen in, and that the yellowwood lintels were collapsing, especially on the south side under the koppie. This meant that the structure had soon become a useless building.” – sourced from Hello Plett

I love old derelict buildings like this with a story to tell.


33 thoughts on “Plett’s Old Timber Shed

  1. Thanks, Mandy, for sharing a real treat! Stone walls like that, and the workmanship behind them, never fail to amaze me. They would be a marvel if completed today but to do it hundreds of years ago? Just incredible! Good luck with your continuing research.

  2. That is just fascinating! I love learning little historical stories from local places around the world. It really puts things into perspective you know. How is the research coming along?

    • Every day I am learning something new and speaking to a new family member – it is mind boggling stuff! I have managed to put nearly 70 families together over 7 generations with over 270 people! I am loving this journey and just when I think I may be getting finished with a section of the family loads more information comes through! I reckon I will be busy for a couple of months yet. Our telephone account is growing bigger and bigger by the day – oops! Thankfully I have family members who are helping me and tackling a few of the older generations. Really can’t wait to have it all done so that I can distribute it all to the whole family. Have a great day Kristy. 🙂

  3. My dad lives in Cape Town and I am visiting him in February. We are travelling around a bit, eating and drinking mostly I can’t wait there’s so many restaurants I HAVE to try! We are staying in Knysna and Plett on our travels so It was interesting to read a bit of local history, thanks!

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