Since its earliest years Henties Bay was primarily an informal holiday settlement that gradually attracted more people every December who initially camped in tents but later on set up small informal wooden houses in the so-called valley, an old tribute of the Omaruru River.
Because there was no infrastructure or somebody responsible for cleaning services, it was a battle trying to keep the area clean, probably leading to much bickering amongst holiday makers who are responsible for the mess and who should clean it up. Eventually in 1978 two of the first permanent residents of Henties Bay, Frank Atkinson and Willie Cilliers, who respectively settled here in 1969 and 1971, fixed an old tree stump with a rope and noose as a “friendly but firm” warning to keep the town and beach clean – or else….! This gesture is typical of Afrikaner humour and seen as such without any negative connotation reflecting on obscure happenings such as real hangings or slavery (which is, by the way, not part of Namibia’s history).
The gallows, an interesting landmark for more than 20 years is probably the most photographed item in Henties Bay. It became a popular tourist attraction and in 2001 the Municipality had the following inscription affixed:
Erected in 1978 as an appeal to keep the town and beach clean. Initiated by Frank Atkinson and Willie Cilliers, who respectively settled here in 1969 and 1971 as two of the first permanent residents of Henties Bay.