Excerpts from Prof. Richard F Logan
“The Central Namib of South West Africa” 1958
The town has water “laid on” (i.e. running water) supplied from a series of tube wells and bore holes in the bed of the Swakop River adjacent to the town. Its quality leaves something to be desired…… When used for showering it merely rearranged the patterns of dirt, and left the person washed even stickier than before. The local residents make coffee and tea with it; and grow so used to the taste that they sprinkle salt into coffee or tea made with ordinary water when visiting other towns.
To obtain a more potable water supply, the Municipality has an agreement with the Railways whereby a tank car of water is hauled from Walvis Bay on alternate days. This water is sold to the public on a cash and carry basis for a tickie (3 pennies) per gallon. In restaurants it is necessary to specify that one desires “Walvis tea” or “Walvis coffee” – otherwise the beverage will be made with salty local water.
On the alternate days the tank car is used to haul water for the local brewery which produces several forms of excellent German-type beer. The beer is shipped all over South West Africa – a curious export for a practically waterless town.
The town has the usual facilities providing most of the necessities of modern life: a number of stores and shops including up-to-date appliances, a good photo supply house, excellent jewelers and watchmakers, garages with first-class mechanics, gas stations and grocery stores, a butchery, a bakery and even a dairy.
The excellence and the quality of many services and amenities listed above can be attributed to the fact that the predominant ethnic group in Swakopmund is German. The town, like all of South West Africa, is officially bilingual (Afrikaans and English); but above all it is German. The German influence shows visibly in the architecture. The stucco buildings invariably have some feature imported from the old country; overhanging balconies, patches of half-timbering, curiously-shaped facades, ornate cornices, buildings surmounted by towers and turrets. The Administrator’s summer residence is a real castle (built for the German governor) and one of the school hostels (dormitories) has a tall watchtower (Kaserne). Some buildings have very steep roofs to shunt off the winter snows of Germany – in a land where snow has never fallen! The most ornate of buildings is the jail – so elaborate it is often mistaken for the Administrator’s castle.
The Swakopmund Aerodrome is located about 3 miles inland from the town, on the outer edge of a gravel terrace at an elevation of 250 feet. Its gravelly runway is 3100 feet long and oriented approximately east and west. There is no control, no lighting and no radio. There are three small hangars, privately owned, at the field. Upon request, South West Air Transport will extend its Windhoek-WalvisBay flight to pick-up or drop passengers at Swakopmund, but there is no regularly scheduled service. Planes arriving unexpectedly usually buzz the home and store of Hans Kriess, Swakopmund merchant, who sends out a refueling truck and a car to bring in passengers. ….