1 March 2021

Dear Members

It was with mixed feelings that recently we heard that Prof Brian Allanson and his wife Sue have decided to relocate to Cape Town to be nearer to their family.

Prof Allanson is a legendary figure in Knysna and particularly at the Leisure Isle Boat Club where he was not only a founding member but was also intimately involving in the planning and construction of the LIBC Harbour. Prof Allanson (or the “Great White” as he was fondly called by many of his associates because of his highly recognizable head of white hair!) was the environmental consultant for the harbour and his meticulous planning has helped us to this day.

On behalf of the Committee and Members , we wish Prof Brian and Sue a sad but fond farewell and everything of the best for their move!


Brian and Sue have made the decision to downsize and relocate to Cape Town to be closer to family. In recognition of their very significant contribution to Knysna over 32 odd years we have prepared the following article about Brian. A separate document will be prepared for Sue by some close friends.

Prof. B.A. Allanson the Scientist.

Brian attended Grey High School in Port Elizabeth, then onto University of Natal (Pietermaritzburg) studying for a Bsc. Science, followed by a short teaching spell at Hilton College. After this he completed his Msc. at UCT followed by time at Water Research in Johannesburg, then the CSIR. While at the CSIR he studied for his PhD. Finally he was appointed as a very young Professor of Zoology at Rhodes University.

Brian had decided to learn to play golf when he retired to Knysna in December 1987 but someone he met had told him that the Estuary was dying. He said that he did not agree but the idea created a challenge that he could not resist so golf was out the window. One of his initial aims was restrict developers from abusing the Estuary.

One of his first involvements was with the Green Hole. Machinery was on site ready to dredge the completely silted up Green Hole when the Town Engineer received a phone call from a Dr. Allanson asking him to meet him on site. Wondering why a medical doctor wanted to speak to him turned out to be pleasant surprise as he found out that Brian had a wealth of information and advice

Brian at this early stage founded his own consulting company, namely Allanson and Associates which was a natural progression with his vast knowledge of water related matters. One of Brian`s major contributions to Knysna was the formation of the Knysna Basin Project (KBP) It was agreed in 1993 to establish the KBP which was developed from within the Outeniqua Trust. This was when it was realised that there was need for a body to focus specifically on conservation aspects. Brian put together a group of like minded people who first met in early 1995. This led to a higher level of meeting with National Parks (as it was then called), Dept. of Water Affairs, Knysna Municipality and the KBP.

Shortly after this another meeting was arranged and attended by Prof. Kader Asmal, Minister of Water Affairs, Dept. of Water Affairs officials, Knysna Municipality and the KBP to explain the objectives of the KBP. A key objective at this early stage was to produce a management plan for the Estuary. Brian received good support from the public by way of financial contributions and institutions making available equipment and use of buildings and the KBP grew from strength to strength. .

The factory on Thesen Island was closed and the property sold. The Company involved wanted to leave a footprint, something with which to thank Knysna and at the same time something that the people would benefit from . As a result the KBP received a very generous donation which enabled them to set up an excellent laboratory in the industrial area. A leading local University generously agreed to pay the rental of the building. This increased the interest from universities in the use of the facilities by undergraduate, graduate and post graduate students. A whole host of people ranging from school children to visiting scientists have made use of the laboratory and the opportunity to work with Brian or hear his wise words when it comes to water related matters.

One of the local successful Home Owners Associations funded the appointment of a full time employee for the KBP for a few years and a this was followed by a well known Family Trust who continued this generosity for another three years. In addition to been able to study this person expanded the activities of the KBP.

Comments have been made about the drive and enthusiasm that it took from Brian to get the KBP initiative going. Brian`s drive and enthusiasm and his amazing depth of contacts and networks which were also called upon to support his projects. Once referred to as `the Great White’ by one of his old university colleagues, because of his shock of white hair and his ability to gobble up all the available research grants for his projects. Brian put this talent to good use for the KBP.

Another of Brian`s contributions to Knysna was his involvement with the Knysna Catchment Management Forum (KCMF) This Forum came about after new Water Act was legislated in 1998. Brian proposed the formation of a sub-committee of the KCMF, of which he was a member, to handle the day to day matters. His efforts resulted in the formulation of a water sampling strategy, the formation of a Pollution Committee, indirectly the appointment of an Environmental Coordinator in the Municipality who was later given an assistant. He lead the committee in submitting comments regarding the Public Participation of developments and other water related issues. He started the first water sampling in twelve areas on the Estuary, the cost of the water testing paid for himself. He was however fully compensated when the Municipality saw the wisdom of his ways. Brian was frequently approached by the Municipality and others for his input and even attended Council meetings to offer advice.

The curtain comes down on a wonderful career and Brian will always be remembered by those who were associated with him for his contributions to Knysna and surrounds.

Friend and Colleague,

John Kennedy.

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