The Old Gaol

Visit the Old Gaol for our maritime history and ships models displays, our angling museum - and the story of how a local scientist identified a fish we thought had died out with the dinosaurs!

The Old Gaol - used as a prison from 1859 till the 1980s - now houses our maritime and angling collections, old maps and ships models, and the Green Chefs Café. It’s also an art centre - and it loves getting visitors.

Please follow the links below for details about the building and its various displays.

Find the Old Gaol, Knysna

  • Corner of Queen Street and Main Road, Knysna (Opposite St. George’s Church and the Royal Hotel)
  • Latitude, longitude: -34.036145, 23.050784

Old Gaol Knysna

The Gaol building

The story of the first government building erected in Knysna. The stone-laying ceremony (19 February, 1859) was quite the affair!

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The Infirmary

Restored prison hospital cell with exhibition about prison life, prison gangs, etc.

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Maritime collection

Collection of artefacts from ships of the Thesen Line; stories of some of the best-known ships that visited the Port of Knysna.

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Maps & models room

Maps of the Knysna Lagoon (Knysna Estuary); ships models, including a model of the first ship built here - the brig, ‘Knysna.’

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Angling collection

A collection of rods, reels, lines, lures, and other accessories - some from the earliest days of fishing at sea (and from banks and shores).

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The Coelacanth

The story of how Prof. JLB Smith identified a fish that was thought to have disappeared with the dinosaurs.

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The Knysna elephants

Yes, elephants do still roam free in the forests of Knysna!

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Mayors of Knysna

Our collection of portraits of our mayors - from 1882 to the present day.

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Art gallery

The Knysna Art Society’s gallery. (Please watch the press for details of exhibitions and opening times.)

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A short discussion about the latest discoveries from the Middle Stone Age in Knysna. (We’re still working on this and haven’t installed our Archaeology exhibit yet. Sorry!)

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