Parkes Shop: our forestry heritage

Visit this old shop (dating from the early 1900s) for our exhibition about the history of the timber industry in Knysna

The Parkes Shop - behind Millwood House in Queen Street - houses displays about the history of timber in Knysna. Here you'll find stories about the woodcutters, the timber merchants, the trees of the forest, etc. 

More info below

  • Please see the links below for stories about the Knysna Forests and the people who worked in them in the 19th and early 20th Centuries. 

Find us

  • Parkes Shop (behind Millwood House), corner Queen Street & Clyde Street, Knysna
  • Latitude, longitude -34.037275, 23.050865
  • From Knysna Central: drive eastwards on Main Street towards Plettenberg Bay. Turn right into Queen Street at the stone church (St. George’s Anglican Church); you’ll find Parkes Shop behind Millwood House on your left on the corner at the T-junction. Enter via Millwood House.

Knysna Museum hours

  • Mondays to Fridays: 9.00 a.m. to 4.00pm
  • Saturdays: 9.00 a.m. to 12.00pm

Museum contact

  • Telephone: +27 (0)44 302 6320

The Parkes Shop story

This Victorian-era building was built as a commissary for the workers at Parkes Sawmill, and was moved to its current position next to Millwood House in its hundredth year.

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The Knysna Forests

The story of the Knysna Forests - from exploitation to conservation

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The woodcutters

The story of the people who harvested the timber from the early 1800s to the late 1930s

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The timber merchants

Two companies dominated the timber economy - and, indeed, much of the general economy - of Knysna in the late 19th Century and well into the 20th Century: Thesen & Co., and Geo. Parkes & Sons Ltd.

These are their stories.

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The trees they harvested

Economically important trees in the Knysna Forests in the 19th and early-20th Centuries

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Timber products in the early days

How were the different timbers used in the 19th and early 20th Centuries?

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The Coffee Pot Railway

The story of Knysna's beloved narrow-gauge railway (1907 - 1949) - with actual footage of the train in action!

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The Great Fire of 1869

The extent and consequences of the most devastating natural disaster to hit the Southern Cape in the 19th Century.

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Changing patterns of plant growth on the hills of the Knysna Basin

Leaf creep: Why is there so little vegetation on the hillsides in old pictures of Knysna?

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Pre-colonial people of the Knysna Forests

Who lived in the Knysna forests before colonial exploitation of the timber began in the late 1700s?

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Slavery and labour in the Knysna forests in the 19th Century

The history and economy of the Cape of Good Hope under both Dutch and British rule were directly tied to the practice of slavery.

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Labour in the Knysna forests under apartheid

What was life like for workers in the Knysna Forests under Apartheid?

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Books & movies about the Knysna Forests

A brief look at the literature inspired by the Knysna forests

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