There was a time once when the world was rough and wild. The only way to get anywhere was on horseback or by ox-wagon. The Cape Colony was a very different place back then. A simple trip from Cape Town to Hout Bay was difficult at best, and very near to impossible at times.
In the year of 1846 a young man, aged barely 16, started his road building career as an apprentice to his Father while constructing the famous Mitchells Pass. His Father just happened to be the Pioneer of South African Road Building, one Andrew Geddes Bain. In the years to come that young man, Thomas Bain, would build a reputation as a Master in the field of building roads. He single handedly linked the Cape with the world beyond the mountains and the horizons of the unknown.
Over a span of 46 years he has build 23 mountain passes. It is said that in all this time he has only taken one month's leave. Remarkably he worked without the benefit of modern technology. There were no front-end loaders, bulldozers or even modern explosives, just teams of men pushing wheelbarrows and wielding shovels and hammers to move rocks broken up by charges of unpredictable gunpowder.
His modus operandi was to travel the area where he wanted to build a pass on horseback with a theodolite (a surveying instrument with a rotating telescope for measuring horizontal and vertical angles) and compass, making sketches that eventually became passes. He developed such a good eye for spotting a line for a pass that his colleagues called him 'the man with a theodolite eye'. He rode out alone and walked the mountain slopes many times to plot a road. Afterwards, he'd return to his camp or temporary home, light an oil lamp and produce detailed working drawings and meticulous maps.
Fast Forward to the year 1885: A stretch of earth cramped between a mountain high and a turquoise blue sea are transformed from a hostile no-mans land into yet another pass by the hand of Thomas Bain. This would be his last project.
And now, many, many years later you have travelled on that road that took him all of three years to build. Victoria Road, connecting Camps Bay to Hout Bay is one of the most scenic drives one can take while in Cape Town.
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