Melkbos History

The Following information on Melkbosstrand is taken from a booklet published by estate agents J. Commaile, on behalf of The Cape Lands Development Company Ltd, date unknown, but probably in the region of 1924. Photos have been omitted due to poor quality in the original document. The original document can be obtained from the New South African Heritage Resources Agency, reference 968.713 MEL.

Melkbosch Strand
(Table Bay)

For those whose genuine desire is to retire to the Coast, or to establish a Seaside Holiday Home, or who, for health reasons, frequently require a change of Air and Climate, The Cape Lands Development Company, Ltd., has pleasure in bringing forward the development of the Township MELKBOSCH STRAND (Table Bay).

For Plans of the Township, Conditions of Sale and all further information, apply to the Sole Agent
P.O. Box 1062
Tel. Add. "TOCOMILE."

Near to Melkbosch Strand, rises the mountain of Blaauwberg, a name which is recorded two centuries ago. It has an historical association, for on the other side - the land side - the well known battle between the Dutch and the English was fought in 1806. At Melkbosch is an old thatched house, a photograph of which is reproduced on another page in this booklet, which no doubt stood when the English landed on the shore. When the fleet, with troops on board, sailed to the north of Robben Island in January, 1806, the Commander, Sir David Baird, intended to land at Blaauwberg, but found the surf running very high, so had to abandon his plan. He sent a couple of ships on to Saldanha Bay, intending to follow with the others next day, and so march the troops from there. On the following day the waters were luckily calmer, so he ran one of the smaller craft ashore at Losperds Bay, slightly to the north of Melkbosch Point. Men were landed, but unfortunately one boatload with Highland troops was swamped and the men drowned. The Dutch had snipers along the mountain-side, and they were potting at the landing soldiers, but without bloodshed. It was the intention of General Janssens, the Dutch Governor and the Commander of the Forces, to hurry his men up to the summit of Blaauwberg, and so impeded the landing and advance of the British. He was too late in carrying this out, for at dawn on the 8th January, the British had already crossed over the hill and were and were forming up on the other side, ready to advance. Sir David Baird kept his men in line for some distance, when he divided them into two and sent the left wing on first, which began to advance in echelon. Janssen's army was a composite one; it contained Dutch troops, burgher militia, a regiment of Waldekers and some French soldiers, and his artillery was in the hands of the Javanese or Malays - excellent men they were. Amongst the troops was also the Hottentot Corps, which Janssens had trained to a state of efficiency. In those days fighting took place at what we would consider fairly close quarters. When the artillery of the attackers opened fire, the first shots fell amongst the Waldekers, who became restive and broke the line. Janssens did all he could to reconstruct the line, but te attackers were in large force and he eventually retreated to Hottentot's Holland. It was not a bloodless battle, for lives were lost on both sides, although not in great numbers, and many were wounded. The British on towards Cape Town over sandy and dry country, encamping at Rietvalley that night, tired and worn out with the morning's fighting, and the advance over ground which was new to men from Europe and under a blistering hot sun. A few days afterwards Cape Town capitulated.

For generations farmers have known and utilised Melkbosch as an ideal picnic and camping spot, despite the long trek through passes deep in sand; and such a rendezvous it remained up to three years ago, when THE CAPE LANDS DEVELOPMENT COMPANY, LTD. Completed the purchase and initiated the development of the spot on up-to-date lines. The fame of this section of Table Bay soon spread and today Melkbosch has become a household word and an established township.

Situated on the Table Bay coast, 23 miles from Cape Town, Melkbosch Strand enjoys the beneficent rays of the setting sun long after its warmth has ceased to cheer other resorts. The locality sketch on another page of this brochure fully illustrates the proximity of various towns in the Western province to Melkbosstrand.

Looking up the coast from Cape Town, Melkbosch and Blaauwberg are marked by an outstanding but sleek and featureless hill. Facing South from Melkbosch Strand the great predominating feature is the mountain behind Table Bay, and distance vests it with a striking power which is lost to those living beneath it. Rising from a dead level on either side, the upper crags of the mountain enfold Devil's Peak, which is almost indistinguishable before the line of the flat top and the lower wooded slopes, but on the other side, the Lion's Head is prominent, and the Twelve Apostles carry the landscape to where the sea and mountain meet.

From the point where the breakers fling themselves upon the low-lying reefs the beach of silvery sand curves and stretches along the rim of the bay northward into the thickening gloom. The rollers, in a smother of foam, come in across the shallow bathing beach, to hiss on the sand and sweep to its turfmarked border.

On the 2nd of January of every year, a sports meeting comprising flat, field and horse events has been held at Melkbosch Strand, under the patronage of influential farmers. The arrangements are carried out by a representative standing committee, who have succeeded in making the event so successful that last year between two and two thousand five hundred people were present to witness or partake in the programme provided.

City workers at present get little or no sunlight year in and year out, but by being transported to the realms of peaceful quietude of Melkbosch, they could enjoy sunbathing to their heart's content. Melkbosch, conveniently situated, with half the rainfall of the Cape Peninsula and a maximum of sunshine all the year round, quietness, plenty of space to build shelters of suitable dimensions, with complete privacy ensured.

The bathing facilities are of the safest to be obtained anywhere in the Cape Peninsula, and provide for both of those who prefer open-sea bathing and those whose choice falls on the popular natural, rock-fringed bathing pool. As long rollers come in across the shallow bathing beach, all the thrills and joys of the ever popular surfing pastime may be enjoyed to the full.

A large area of ground fronting on the sea has been reserves for recreation purposes. A commencement is being made with the laying down of tennis courts and providing shelter and shade, in addition to which, trees and suitable shrubs will be planted and the whole area artistically laid out.

The Recreation Hall, newly completed and being of dimensions suitable for every conceivable purpose, will add to the undoubted attractions Melkbosch Strand already enjoys. During the season a series of dances is being arranged, and certain cape Town dance Clubs have expressed themselves as interested, and are arranging dates for a novel form of amusement in the shape of picnic dances.

Although safe open-sea bathing facilities exist along the whole coast, nature has provided a natural swimming bath in the shape of a miniature lagoon at the southern end of the township. It has thus far not become necessary to carry out artificial improvements to this rock-fringed pool, but when, at some future time, a seawall fills the shallow ports which lead out to the breakers, a rival to any swimming pool in the Peninsula will be created. Into this one may dive at high tide and have a brisk swim, with one's shadow following across the sandy and cobbled bottom.

Right along the foreshore is a promenade of nature-nurtured turf. This turf is the result of the fresh water draining out of the loose-knit earth that lies behind it. This broad strip of verdure has been kept inviolate, and the township is so laid out that the houses and buildings will stand behind it and no disturbance of this ward will be brooked by the Company.

Behind the township a series of hill serve in a wind-breaking capacity and turn the south-easters from Melkbosch and make it one of the few sheltered spots during the Cape windy season.

Although the land is not perfectly flat but conform to irregular undulations, these do not tend to hide house from house or impair a clear view from the sea. The absence of sandy wastes in the township is probably accounted for by the fact the whole area is covered with shrub about three feet high.

Thousands of gum, pine, cypress and oak trees having been planted and taken root, will in a very short time make a brave show in the streets running between the seaside cottages and the more substantial dwellings. Practically every street has been so planted, and the future should ensure a town of park-like propensities. Tree planting has also been carried out on the fringe of the turf on the foreshore.

There is an abundant supply of crystal-clear water obtainable anywhere in the township, at a depth of a few feet below the surface. Apart from the two to three natural springs in existence, a new water scheme has been completed, which will enable water of the best quality to be supplied to any stand or plot on the estate. A chemical and bacteriological analysis proves the water to be free from impurities and suitable for all domestic and potable purposes.

The Company has provided a cement building-block plant for the convenience of those desiring to build. With the necessary material close at hand, building costs are greatly reduced and should prove a boon to plot holders. Types of houses which these blocks are capable of turning out, are reproduced in the adjoining photograph, and it should be unnecessary to emphasise their compactness and neatness.

The Estate Office which has been erected at the entrance to the township has been constructed of cement blocks and illustrates the types of cement blocks being manufactured. All information may be had here, in regard to the township, cement blocks or any other building material.

Dear friend,

As you know, I have wanted for a long time to see Melkbosch Strand, ever since Frank suggested buying a plot of land somewhere down at the beach and putting up a seaside house where we could spend our holidays. The Stoffbergs have always spoken so enthusiastically of Melkbosch as an ideal place to spend a holiday, where one can be as free and unconventional as one pleases.

They remember it in the days when there were only three permanent buildings there, and the farmers from the surrounding country used to come down in their white-tented ox-wagons and camp out among the sandhills. Today of course, it is a flourishing village, connected up by telephone with the outside world, and a number of attractive homesteads are going up rapidly along the seafront. Everywhere one hears it spoken of as the coming seaside resort of the Peninsula.

Hearing that Frank was interested in Melkbosch Strand, the Cape Lands Development Company kindly put a car at our disposal, so that we were able to go down and see it for ourselves. I must admit that though I knew more or less what to expect, I was very agreeably surprised. Imagine a day of glorious sunshine, of blue sky of blue sea, white sand dunes and a long stretch of beach with the big breakers racing towards the shore. That was my first impression of Melkbosch Strand.

As we cleared the rise in the road, we had our first glimpse of the magnificent seep of the bay, with its wide stretch of breakers tumbling over and over as they raced shorewards. To the northward a line of silver, where surf meets sand, stretches as far as one can see. The view to the south is bounded by the picturesque, rocky promontory of Melkbosch Point, with the faint cloud-capped outline of table Mountain blue in the distance across the bay. Straight ahead lies the little township spread along the sea-front.

We had tea and inspected the Post Office before we continued to "explore". A lovely old Dutch homestead stands close to the water's edge and a little behind it the quaint old thatched "Dam House", with the historic outpost building beyond. The whole neighbourhood is full of historical interest; and by the way, I saw a most interesting old map in the Archives the other day, which confirms the theory that it was not actually at Blaauwberg Strand, but about five miles further up the coast at Losperd's Bay, just above Melkbosch Point itself, that General Baird landed his troops in 1806 when he captured the Cape from the Dutch.

As you know, I am quite capable of buying a plot of land, because of its historical associations, but Frank, being more practical, insisted on finding out all about the water supply and building facilities and such like necessary things, all of which were pronounced eminently satisfactory.

Of course, Melkbosch Strand certainly possesses great natural advantages in its situation and climate. In the winter it is a veritable haven of refuge for the people living in Cape Town. There is sunshine there long after the chill afternoon shadow if the Mountain has fallen on Cape Town. The bathing all along the beach is excellent, and there is a fine natural bathing pool. There is good shooting and fishing and some splendid walks. We made quite a long excursion among the sand hills, picking wild flowers, which are plentiful in the veld all round.

Anyway, the upshot of it all was that Frank made up his mind then and there to buy a plot. You must come down and spend a holiday with us as soon as ever our little house is built. You will love the site we have chosen.

Yours as ever.

B. J., Sea Point - "A delightful spot."
B. C., Cape Town - "5 years hence - Muizenberg II."
J. G., Ireland - "A little bit of heaven."
W. W. R. M., Sea Point - "The beach - a big asset."
E. C., Wellington - "Excellent fishing."
C. L. S., Cape Town - Refreshments excellent - future should be likewise."
L. G. G., Cape Town - "Rapid progress."
W. B., Paarl - "A hit."
H. A. M., Cape Town - "Progress continuous - beach beyond comparison."
J. F., Wynberg - A real pick-me-up."
M. G., Newlands - Romantic spot."
E. l., Vredelust - "Ideal winter resort."
B. F., The Wilderness - "I would that my tongue could utter the thoughts within me."
R. J. S. W., Cape Town - Visit short but sweet. Coming again."
M. L., Mooreesburg - Gorgeous spot for a holiday."
K. V. C. Observatory - "Sixth visit, 'nuf said."
J. W. C., 3 Anchor Bay - "The fairyland of the Cape."
J. E. P., Cape Town - "My first visit - greatly impressed."
W. G. du P., Paarl - "A beauty spot and health resort."


Hail to thee, O fairest Melkbosch, by an emerald Southern sea!
Afric's pride, yon mountain, portal, Nature's Garden smiles on thee.
Grassy sward, like softest velvet, lies upon the silv'ry sand;
Villas' nestle, gentle zephyrs play - we stroll here hand in hand.

Verse 2:
Ah, we love you, little "Uitkyk" by a wide and boundless deep,
Fondest memory speaks of bygone days - of joy, of rest, of sleep;
Wavelets lap and rolling billows break and play in childlike glee,
While we linger, dreaming idly, at sweet Melkbosch-by-the-Sea.

Verse 3:
And in dreams, while Duty holds me far from Melkbosch, do I hear,
Rippling laughter, rousing folksong, and I live mid visions clear;
Once again, with heart of gladness, yonder where the billows call,
I can feel all Nature round me, as the evening shadows fall.

Without entering into any extravagant claims, it is abundantly clear to those who knew the Melkbosch Strand of a few short years ago, that real and active progress has resulted.

The completion of the hard road, the tree planting, the progressive development of the natural charms, together with the forward policy of essential services and conveniences, characterises not only the farsightedness of all those involved in the development of Melkbosch Strand, but a spirit of wholehearted confidence inspired by the co-operation of the public.

In the near future, when the contemplated jetty or landing stage is completed, the extension of the Marine Drive is accomplished, and a hotel erected in keeping with the requirements of a seaside resort, Melkbosch will come into its own. These contemplated developments, although not essential to the immediate future, are only in keeping with the bold forward policy of the Company, who, together with many well-wishers, recognise that natural charm and beauty will ever be the first attraction.