With no one knowing it, the building of “Spotty” the dog began in 1937 at the hand of Ralph Barnes, a struggling musician who decided to try his hand at a new form of art.
Spotty started his journey being built on Main Road Retreat. As Barnes worked with architect Leslie Smith to produce the unusual structure behind a veil of fabric, rumours began to to circulate with many believing Spotty would be an elephant.
In 1938, residents had their questions answered as Spotty the dog was unveiled as a roadside restaurant.
Almost immediately Spotty became the talk of the town, with families making sure to visit him for a weekend treat. Spotty’s hamburgers, ice cream and coffee were a hit and little ones from all around the Cape looked forward to visit the friendly hound.
Spotty was South Africa’s first canine-shaped roundhouse and over the years his uses transformed from restaurant to vegetable and fruit stand.
Back in these days, Spotty was the only spot patrons could stop for a bite to eat between Wynberg and Muizenberg.
After his popularity skyrocketed, a kennel was added to Spotty’s design to accommodate more visitors.
Due to Spotty’s close vicinity to the armed forces based at Polsmoor during World War 2, new rumours sprung up that Spotty’s head was actually a hiding spot for a spy who was watching and reporting on the movement of troops.
Spotty was also no stranger to pranks as his spots were often targeted by soldiers and rumour has it, his nose was even painted red once.
Over the years, Spotty had transformed from just a restaurant to a well-known landmark and mascot to those living in the area.
Unfortunately Spotty was involved in a road accident in the 1970s when a truck rammed into him, destroying the landmark altogether.
To honour Spotty’s memory and fill the whole in many hearts, a second Spotty was constructed in 1988.
Andrew Louw from Cape Concrete, working together with John Andrews, brought the legend of Spotty back to life. The new replica of Spotty marked the entrance at Spotty’s Auto but when the store moved Spotty disappear from the public eye once again.
Today, locals can spot a replica of the iconic dog sitting outside BUCO hardware store. The replica once stood next to a smaller pup, but it was unfortunately removed after a series of vandalism incidents.
To encourage awareness and to shine as an example for residents during the coronavirus pandemic, Spotty now even has his very face mask, supplied by the Curtain Company & Interiors.
Measuring in at just 2.5 metres height, the statue is an ode to the legendary house that has a special spot in many hearts even to this day.
Pictures: Facebook/Cape Town Down Memory Lane