Bill Shewell – Class of 1953. The Harbour Master of The V&A Waterfront and who made it all happen.

Bill is 89 years of age, still hale and hearty and a regular member of Pinelands Bowling Club. The family emigrated to RSA from Devonshire in 1948 and were accommodated at the Gamtoos Ferry Hotel. It was from here that he then was to arrive at Grey of which he has fond memories, especially of his time on the cricket fields. He was to complete his formal naval training upon matriculating at the SATS General Botha. He spent eight years at sea before starting marine life at Walvis Bay and then on to other ports before being asked in 1989 to take on the challenge of cleaning up the Cape Town Docks. He was also to set in place a programme to assist the authorities in developing the underutilized land which later became the famed Waterfront attraction.

He inherited a proverbial mess which required a massive removal of truckloads of old rubbish including an old ship’s engine. Wide nets were spanned across the stormwater drains of Adderley Street to collect the flotsam and gradually the light started to return to the waters. Upon retirement as Port Captain from Commercial Ports, he was offered the position of Harbour Master for the new V&A Waterfront and was given the freedom to expand and enhance the area. This is where Bill was to come into his own!

He adopted as his mission to create “A Theatre of Movement” to put in place a pleasant working harbour on which tourists would not only view but feel part of it. He invited shipping agents to bring in passenger liners, fishing trawlers were welcomed together with foreign naval squadrons along with Antarctica supply ships and the Port Authority retained their tug and pilot boats by mutual agreement. This allowed the crews to partake in the local foods and music with visitors enjoying the hospitality on offer by the waterfront eating establishments and taverns.

Business proposals were put on offer with low rentals to interested charter boat owners who were allocated their own designated bays. Tourists could then select, without any undue pressure, their preferred options of pleasure in hiring from yachts, catamarans or even the traditional brown sail wooden decker. In addition, crossing over the new swing bridge dividing the Alfred and Victoria Basins the Robben Island floating pontoon was erected for the ferry boats which has been a boon.

In 1991 Bill saw to the removal of the empty fuel tank farm in order to develop the New Basin. The new area was filled with rubble to a depth of six metres and turned into a marina basin. This became a mooring area for the yachting fraternity who booked into the superior hotel and residential accommodation that was being built. The mooring pontoons with their electrical and water box supply have returned an excellent income on investment.

One of the earliest requests made to Bill was for a lifeboat to use for the Ithuba Charity Christmas Fund for deserving children. Bill duly obliged and appeared as Father Christmas on the boat’s prow and distributed presents to many less fortunate children. It was the start of a social responsibility programme that is an integral part of this major development. As Bill puts it, “My special marine harbour was growing my way, while yet to come future land developments would open up even more sea life varieties for our land lubbers to enjoy the thrill of venturing on the safe waters of a unique working port surrounded by a vast shopping centre”.

It is quite amazing that this tall quiet unassuming guy who enjoys playing bowls, doing his bit in fixing things around his bowling club, who is a resident at a retirement centre and always has a good story to tell is such a visionary. He has over the years been invited globally to other harbour cities to share his experiences and he has cheerfully given his expertise and successful formula.

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Kingster University was established by John Smith in 1920 for the public benefit and it is recognized globally. Throughout our great history, Kingster has offered access to a wide range of academic opportunities. As a world leader in higher education, the University has pioneered change in the sector.

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The Kingster University Alumni Association is excited to announce the arrival of KU Alumni Connect. This is a new community building platform for Kinster’s alumni. It is the only place online where you can find, and connect with, all 90,000 Kingster’s alumni. All alumni are automatically enrolled!

Kingster University was established by John Smith in 1920 for the public benefit and it is recognized globally. Throughout our great history, Kingster has offered access to a wide range of academic opportunities. As a world leader in higher education, the University has pioneered change in the sector.

Spirituality

The Kingster University Alumni Association is excited to announce the arrival of KU Alumni Connect. This is a new community building platform for Kinster’s alumni. It is the only place online where you can find, and connect with, all 90,000 Kingster’s alumni. All alumni are automatically enrolled!

Kingster University was established by John Smith in 1920 for the public benefit and it is recognized globally. Throughout our great history, Kingster has offered access to a wide range of academic opportunities. As a world leader in higher education, the University has pioneered change in the sector.

Alumni

The Kingster University Alumni Association is excited to announce the arrival of KU Alumni Connect. This is a new community building platform for Kinster’s alumni. It is the only place online where you can find, and connect with, all 90,000 Kingster’s alumni. All alumni are automatically enrolled!

Kingster University was established by John Smith in 1920 for the public benefit and it is recognized globally. Throughout our great history, Kingster has offered access to a wide range of academic opportunities. As a world leader in higher education, the University has pioneered change in the sector.

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