Great Brak River is a charming town in the Western Cape with a rich and vibrant history. The Great Brak River Museum, housed in the historic building known as the “old school house,” offers visitors a glimpse into the past of this village. The museum has a vast collection of old photographs, artifacts, and implements that have been donated by the loScal community and the Searle family.

The town of Great Brak River was started in 1859 when Charles Searle brought his family to the then-virtually unknown rural settlement alongside the flood-prone river. He was appointed to operate and collect the toll which provided not only for his well-being, but also for the cost of maintaining the crossing. Travellers often needed their shoes (veldskoens) repaired, and Charles Searle saw an opportunity. He established a small shoe factory, which eventually became a dynamic industry, allowing the village to grow extensively.

The Great Brak River Museum is a treasure trove of information and artifacts, showcasing the rich heritage of this small village. The exhibits at the museum include old photographs, a reproduction of an early Drawing-room, Kitchen, and Bedroom, an extensive history of the Khoe people, and the story of Modern Man which started some 200 000 years ago. The museum also has a room devoted to the Searle Industries and their Military participation.

The significance of the Searle family to the museum cannot be overstated. The family founded the Great Brak River village in 1859, and they have contributed enormously to the museum and its collection.


In order to help raise money for maintenance and general upkeep of the premises, the Muse Festival took hands with the Museum. As part of the Muse Festival (21-23 September 2023 in Great Brak) an exciting guided walk to the 1924 Hydro-power Station, the last remaining operable 1920s hydropower station in South Africa, is on the cards. This will offer participants a unique opportunity to learn about the history of hydro-power in South Africa. Heritage walks in the village and guided tours in the Museum will also be presented. Do your bit to help preserve the Museum! Contact Paula at 082 788 2461 for the Heritage Walks and Colleen at 064 681 0600 to book a guided tour in the Museum and the walk to the hydropower station.