Rondebosch - Cape Town
Back in 1657 in the times of Jan van Riebeeck the first
families to be given land in the Cape Area were given
land along the Liesbeeck River in Rondebosch area.
These free citizens of Cape Town were called the Free Burghers
and their contract with the Dutch East India company was to
supply food to the company in Cape Town.
All food produced was bought at a fixed price by the Company.
Since then Rondebosch has grown quite considerably.
Today it is a student town with the University of Cape Town
situated on the hillside on the lower slopes of Devils Peak.
Where there are students there is normally a thriving metropolis
and Rondebosch is no exception..
During semesters the students fill the streets as they
make their way to and from classes.
UCT is well known for its medical faculty and worked closely
with Professor Chris Barnard the first heart transplant pioneer.
Professor Chris Barnard having completed his
medical training at UCT in 1946.
Another place of interest is the Rhodes Memorial which
is also situated on the hillside to the north of the University.
This memorial is in honour of Cecil John Rhodes who came to South Africa in 1870 to join
his brother on a cotton farm.
In 1871 he moved to Kimberley where he speculatively
began digging for diamonds.
In 1880 he founded the De Beers Consolidated Mines and
later the Consolidated Gold Fields of South Africa operating
from the Witwatersrand. The rest is history!
He became the Prime Minister of the Cape in 1890 and remained
in his post until his resignation in 1896.
His memorial is built on the site where he used to place a bench
to look out over Table bay to the north, False bay to the south
and the Hottentots Holland Mountains to the east.
Its a huge monument built of granite with steps leading down
to a rostrum where one can look out over Cape Town. The stairs
are lined by granite block walls which have statues of lions
lying on them looking out over the Cape.
In the centre of the staircase is a statue of a man on a horse looking east.
Another place of interest is the Mostert's Mill . This mill was
built on the farm Welgelegen in 1796 a year after the Dutch lost
control of the Cape to the British.
In 1823 the mill and the farm came in to the possession of
one S J Mostert and the mill received its name from him.
The mill has been restored a number of times over the centuries,
the most recent being in 1995.
Today the mill is operated by the Friends of the Mostert Mill
who still mill wheat on Saturdays when they are open for tourists.
What is very interesting are the sails of the mill which when not
in use are parked facing the mountain.
This keeps them out of the wind that howls around Cape Town in the summer.
Another view of the Common
Another place of interest is the Rondebosch Common, which was first
utilised by the Dutch as a military encampment.
Maps dating back to 1807 show evidence of the military encampment on the common.
In 1855 the rector of St Paul's church was given permission to
graze his cows on the land . There was however a stipulation
that the land was to remain open for public use.
Over the years bits and pieces of the original common have
been lopped off and put to various uses.
One of them being the building of the Red Cross Children's hospital.
A number of cemetries were also established and surrounded
by pine trees but today there is no trace of the cemetries but the pines are still there.
In 1961 the Common was proclaimed a National Monument and remains so till this day.
On this 100 acre piece of open ground are 200 indigenous plant
species ranging from buttercups, arum lilies, gazanias
and irises to name but a few. There are also over 20 species of alien plants endangering
the indigenous plants on the Common.
The Rondebosch Common is a piece of prime land in the middle of the city which has escaped squatters and any attempts to build on it.
The locals love this piece of open land and you can see them walking their dogs, jogging and doing their exercises there daily.
May it stay that way for a long long time.
Email : Geoff Fairman
6 Bothma Street, Monte Vista 7460 South Africa
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Cape Town - Rondebosch
Page updated 12.6.2015