Postcards from 100 years ago



Suburban Cape Town      

Wynberg,     Muizenberg,    Kalk Bay 


In 1683 land belonging to one of the Freeburgers, whose farms along the Liesbeek River supplied the Dutch East India Company, was sold to Herman Weeckens. The farm was named De Oude Wijnbergh (Old Wine Mountain). The Cape's rough seas in the winter months led to a formal winter anchorage in 1743 where ships would dock at Simons' Baai (present day Simons Town). A wagon route linking Cape Town to Simons Town went over the hill adjacent to De Oude Wjinbergh estate.  

When the British took control of the Cape settlement on 16 Sept 1795 the small farming area of Wynberg developed rapidly into a garrison town, as the British settled a large number of troops in the area. A notable settler was Alexander Tennant who built a house still standing, named Sonnebloem. At Wynberg the Dutch had earlier made a show of resistance, but they were soon driven from their post by the British.  01 Main Road, Wynberg 

Wynberg was a convenient half way point between Table Bay and False Bay and this led to a hub of commercial activity. The authorities had allotted places where large teams of oxen could be unyoked and graze which made this possible.  The village provided farmers with an alternative to the market in Cape Town. As more farms were subdivided commercial and residential properties began to increase.

1 modern main road WynbergDiplomat Edmund Roberts passed through Wynberg in 1833. He described it as being "beautiful," and being "adorned with a great number of gentlemen's seats, and neat cottages, the avenues leading to them having well-trimmed hedges of myrtle and oak..."  The famous astronomer John Herschel lived at Wynberg between 1834 and 1838, where he set up a telescope to study the southern hemispehere skies, and also did some botanical work on South African flowers together with his wife Margaret. In addition, it was in Wynberg that the young Charles Darwin met Herschel in 1836, a meeting which considerably influenced Darwin's later work. 

The corner building burnt down in the 1950's and was rebuilt. The gables were saved. 



 323 Muizenberg












378 Muizenberg













Het Posthuys is one of the oldest buildings in South Africa, dating to circa 1742. It was built by the Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie or VOC) as a toll-house to levy a tax on farmers passing by to sell their produce to ships lying in Simon's Bay. One of the early postholders was Sergeant Muys (meaning "mouse"), from whom Muizenberg (formerly Muysenbergh and Muys Zijn Bergh (Muys' mountain) before that) gets its name. After a varied career as a police station, stables, brothel, hotel and private house the building was identified for what it was in the 1980s and restored with funds from Anglo American Corporation.   


Kalk Bay

Its modern day history started when the Dutch East India Company proclaimed Simon's Bay a winter anchorage for their ships from May 15th to August 15th each year from 1742. 

The difficulty of getting supplies to these ships in Simon's Bay and the  building of the town of Simon's Town was severely hampered by the inadequacy of a proper road especialy at Clovelly and Sunny Cove where the moutain reached the sea and the quicksands of Fish Hoek and Glencairn halted oxen transport.   

Kalk Bay became a mini-port for the Dutch and all victualling requirements as well as anchors, masts, sails, etc, were sent by ox-wagon to Kalk Bay and thereafter loaded onto barges which took the goods over to the ships in the bay as well as construction materials needed for the building of Simon's Town.  Returning ox-wagons took lime (kalk) and fish, the staple diet of slaves, back to Cape Town.  This mini-port boom where warehouses were built to store the goods lasted from 1742–1795 whereafter the British took over the Cape and the Royal Engineers built a proper 'hard' road to Simon's Town.   

319 Kalk BayKalk Bay fell into disuse, but not for long, and by 1820 it was again the hive of activity as the whaling boom brought much enterprise to Kalk Bay, especially as whaling was prohibited in Simon's Town due to the compaints by residents and the garrison that the repugnant smell of both burning blubber and rotting whale carcasses was unhygienic and unacceptable.  Whaling was the third biggest income earner for the Cape Colony after agriculture and wine making, and Kalk Bay housed three of the main whaling stations at the Cape. 


Green Point

The Somerset Hospital in the Green Point area of Cape Town, South Africa opened in 1864 and has been declared a provincial heritage site. 

346 Somerset Hospital346 Somerset Hospital


University of Cape Town

UCT was founded in 1829 as the South African College, and is the oldest university in South Africa. 

 332 UCT






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