The west coast of the Cape is steeped in history. Lambert’s Bay originally known as Otterdam was first surveyed by the the Royal Navy between 1826 and 1840. The town was later named after Sir Robert Lambert who was in charge of the survey of the area. When British ships started visiting the bay during the Anglo Boer War it resulted in the wreckage of the one and only ship lost by the British. This happened on Steenboksfontein near the present day Lamberts bay. Many bits and pieces of the Sybille are today on display at the local museum.
Things started to change in 1887 when Joseph Carl Stephan, bought the farm Otterdam and used wheat from neighbouring farms as his main product for trading purposes in the Lamberts bay natural harbour. Being an entrepreneur, Stephan also saw the need for a hotel which later on resulted in the Marine Hotel being built.
The town of Lambert’s Bay was finally proclaimed in 1913 when a number of plots were sold to private individuals. In 1929 the town became a local authority and was declared a Municipality in 1969. With the opening up of the west coast over the past few years, Lambert’s Bay has become well known as a tourist destination with attractions such as the seabird breeding colonies, a seal colony on Bird island.
As Lamberts Bay used to be a fishing harbour, it has a number of factories built along its waterfront – some of which are still running today. The crayfish canning factory that was erected in 1918 is still there today but is no longer used for canning crayfish. The potato chip industry has taken over one of the factories and produces raw potato chips.
Did you know that Lambert’s Bay harbour is used by the diamond mining boats as a base? Offshore diamonds are mined by converted trawlers and other small craft which carry large pumps and hundreds of metres of piping. When the ships go to sea, included in the crew are deep sea divers whose job it is to locate diamond bearing gravel on the seabed.
It’s a tough life for diamond divers as Sea conditions on average only allow them to work for about six days a month of which eight hours a day is underwater in the bitterly cold Atlantic Ocean.
Lamberts Bay consists not only of the harbour area but also has a beautiful coastline where one can swim and tan on the pristine beaches. The town, although it no longer has a crayfish factory, is still an important crayfishing area.