Newlands at a glance
The Nieuwland estate was laid out by Willem Adriaan van der Stel in 1700 and the Newlands House was built by the Governor, Ryk Tulbagh, in 1751. In her book The Story of a House, historian, first female mayor of Cape Town and one-time resident of Newlands House, Joyce Newton- Thompson, explains that the estate lay a short distance beyond [the? Rondebosch estate] Rustenburg on the slopes of Devil's Peak with Kirstenbosch as the other boundary.' The property encompassed a formal garden and oak trees. It remained the property of the government until 1826 where after the village of Newlands developed. This land was given to the first nine 'citizens' or Free 'Burghers' of South Africa. The estate was later sold out of government hands and subsequently subdivided, although the house itself remained a sought-after residence, playing host to the likes of Sir Lord Charles Somerset who enjoyed a number of years there while Governor of the Cape. The house still stands, with its distinctive wooden gates set back from Newlands Avenue.
In the southern suburbs it seems all roads lead to Newlands. Whether one is leaving Rondebosch and travelling south to Constantia or travelling from Claremont to the city, it's inevitable that you'll pass through this oak-lined suburb that's built on the slopes in the lee of Table Mountain. Newlands, in the time of Jan van Riebeeck, was already regarded as a desirable place. By the 1860s, it was fashionable for wealthy merchants to escape the confines of the stifling city to their 'country houses', and Newlands was a popular choice.
Newlands hugs the mountain from which the Liesbeek River runs. There is walkway along the bank of the river which passes the Vineyard Hotel, originally Lady Anne Barnard's cottage, down to Josephine Mill, built in 1840, which used a water wheel, to grind grain for the brewery, one of the oldest in South Africa. There is still a pipeline supplying the brewery with fresh mountain water, which runs under the Cardiff Castle Building in the centre of Newlands village. Newlands Stadium, home of the Stormers, as well as Newlands Cricket Ground, surely put the suburb on the world map. The railway line from Salt River was extended to Newlands in December 1864 which is still a very popular mode of transport today.
On an academic note, Newlands is also home to schools such as Sans Souci, Kildare pre-primary and of course, South African College School (SACS), the oldest school in the country. A number of movers and shakers can lay claim to having attended the school, among them Justice of the Constitutional Court Justice Albie Sachs, Afrikaans playwright NP van Wyk Louw as well as a number of Springbok sportsmen, the most recently famous being Percy Montgomery.
The suburb's history is tied up with beer, and a number of breweries were established in the area, among them the Mariendahl Brewery, the Old Cannon Brewery (which still stands today having been converted to a private residence in the early part of the last century) and of course the Anneberg Brewery, the lair of Anders Ohlsson, regarded as one of the stalwarts of the industry in this country. Many of the cottages along Kildare Road and in Newlands Village were originally built as homes for the breweries' workforce.
The only remaining historic reminder of the original Ohlsson's Cape Breweries is the Josephine Mill, which used the waters of the Liesbeek River to grind the grain needed for the brewery. Combine this rich history with the proximity to Newlands Forest, major road arterials and excellent schools, high-end shopping centres and exclusive boutiques, some of the city's best delis and restaurants ? no wonder Newlands has the highest per-m2 land value in the southern suburbs.
Newlands the Surburb
Today Newlands is a built up suburb, encompassing residential, commercial educational as well as recreational facilities. The M3 motorway dissects Newlands, which makes access to the City, the university, the airport and surrounding suburbs convenient from a number of routes feeding into the motorway. Schools in Newlands, include South African College School (SACS) established in 1829, the history of the school can be read on the SACS web page. This makes interesting reading as to why, it is only one of four schools worldwide to hold its own 'Rhodes scholarship, the page, tells of its illustrious past pupils and why it is considered as one of the 'grandest schools' in South Africa. Other schools in Newlands include Westerford, a co-education school, with strong music, art and technology departments and San Souci Girls School. A small shopping complex in the heart of the village, houses the ever popular Melissa's, Barristers as well as a range of specialty shops.
Properties in Newlands
Newlands offers a mixed range of properties from multilevel homes in Fernwood, on the slopes of the mountain, looking over the Cape Flats towards the Hottentots Holland's mountains, to quaint cottages in the village. Ranges of modern, as well as more traditional homes are located in Fernwood below Rhodes Drive, where the size of the property, is generally larger than in the 'Village'. There are town house complexes as well as apartments on offer.
The area is divided into a number of 'zones', among them Fernwood Upper and Lower, which are divided by Rhodes Drive as well as Hiddingh Estate and Upper Newlands, which are separated by Newlands Avenue. Newlands Village is the area that includes Kildare and Palmboom roads. Vineyard is the area around the eponymous Vineyard Hotel. 'Hiddingh Estate has traditionally been popular with families who like the sizeable properties and the proximity of the area to schools. The village has always been a trendy area though many of the erven are small.' (They can range in size from 120m2 up to 650m2.) A new trend in Newlands has been the development of security estates. Riversong on Riverside Road and Boshof Estate on Boshof Avenue in Lower Fernwood are good examples of quality, security-optimised developments, and it is this sense of security that can elevate house prices and value by around 30%. 'For first time buyers wanting to break into the market, the Vineyard area is an excellent place to start. Though some of the stands are relatively small (averaging at less than 500m2), one can find an un-renovated buy for around the R2.5-million mark,' says Mariella Peretti.
Fernwood Upper, above Rhodes Drive, has seen significant development over the past few years. Panoramic views over the southern peninsula and elevated positioning, ensures the popularity of the new homes built here. These three and four bedroom homes with their small patio gardens have achieved excellent growth. The Kelvin area is still a place where good buys can be found. It is sought after by families with school going children for its convenient position and proximity to schools. Many of the homes in this part of Newlands are Edwardian in style and where one could find an un-renovated buy for R875 000 in 2004, the renovated price in 2007 was around the R2.3-million mark, showing this is an area with proven growth. With schools aplenty, superb shopping, sporting and social opportunities, and a central position within easy reach of the rest of the southern suburbs and the city, it's no surprise then that Newlands is one of the most popular areas to invest in property.
Newlands has also played an important role in the development of sport in South Africa. Now named Sahara Park, Newlands cricket ground dates back to the late 1800s, while the grounds where the Newlands rugby stadium now stands, and were bought in 1888. In the 1970s, the stadium became the headquarters of the South African Rugby Union, and extensive renovations during the nineties took it to a crowd capacity of over 50 000.
Besides Rugby and Cricket, Josephine Mill, the Rugby museum and Kirstenbosch Gardens, there are numerous walks in Newlands Forest area. Newlands Swimming pool, an Olympic size pool, open year round, is used for long distance training, however it is not heated. Kelvin Grove, a members only club, tucked in behind the Newlands Rugby Stadium, and next to the Cricket ground is used for weddings, parties,? big or small, quiet dining, a game of tennis or bowls or? catching up with friends before the 'big game', is ever popular with residents in the southern suburbs.
These are some of the attractions that make this a very desirable suburb in which to purchase a property and the fact that many buyers in the area have been residents of Newlands for years underscores the fact that this is indeed a suburb that gets under your skin.
Image credit: Cape Town Travel