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South African Maritime Centre
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Inside the Union-Castle House, this museum explains the Cape's long history with the sea. Recently renovated, the center documents the history of the Union-Castle shipping line. Before World War II many English-speaking South Africans looked upon England as home, even if they had never been there. The emotional link between the two countries was symbolized most strongly by the mail steamers, carrying both mail and passengers that sailed weekly between South Africa and England. Models of ships are accompanied by memorabilia such as a collection of postcards sold from the ships between 1910 and 1960. A fascinating re-creation of Cape Town harbor as it appeared in 1885, which was built by convicts, is on permanent display, as is a chilling exhibit about the SS Mendi, a cargo vessel turned troopship that was carrying the South African Native Labour Contingent to help with the war effort in France. She was accidentally rammed by a British cargo ship, resulting in the deaths of 607 black troops.
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