Sir Robert Stanford’s dream of establishing a village on his farm Gustrouw near Gordon’s Bay was never realized. Ironically, a village was founded on his “prized” Kleine Riviers Valley farm by Philippus de Bruyn (34), the next owner. Almost immediately after buying Kleine Riviers Valley farm in December 1855, de Bruyn, with the help of land surveyor Huys, started planning a village on 123 hectares of the original farm. Stanford wrote that he had paid de Bruyn £50 to have the village named after himself.
Philippus Johannes de Bruyn was the eldest son of Philippus Lodewicus de Bruyn Snr and Sara Petronella Maree, from Hermanusheuwel near Caledon. De Bruyn Snr, with three other men, were instrumental in the founding of Caledon. Philippus de Bruyn Jnr and his wife Sophia Margaretha Petronella Swart had twelve children, eight sons and four daughters. His in-laws, Johannes Jochemus and Johanna Catharina Swart, lived on the farm Modderrivier near his newly acquired Kleine Riviers Valley farm.
De Bruyn apparently never received written proof of his first payment on the farm and thus in the end had to pay 50 percent more for the property. This, as well as great livestock losses due to disease, caused his insolvency and on 26 March 1872 Duncan McFarlane and James Henry Stroud bought de Bruyn’s other farms totalling 2 454 hectares. From its inception Stanford was a much more ambitious project than any of the surrounding towns. Compared to the few plots initially for sale in other towns, two hundred plots were laid out in Stanford. Caledon was founded in April 1811, Napier in April 1838, Bredasdorp in May 1838, and “Hermanus Pieters Fontein” (now Hermanus) in 1854. Gansbaai, initially called Gansgat, had a few fishermen families living there from the 1880s, but the first plots were only sold in 1921.
Stanford’s erven (plots) were auctioned by Theodor Osterloh from Caledon on 5 May 1856, before the farm had even been registered in de Bruyn’s name. It was advertised as a town laid out against a beautiful, gentle slope, with rich soil, watered by a strong stream. Many oak trees were to be planted to give it “a romantic look”. Enough land was demarcated for a Dutch Reformed Church, an English Church and a market square along the main road to Caledon, Bredasdorp and Stanford’s Cove, from where thousands of muids of grain had been shipped to the Eastern Cape during the Frontier Wars. A few plots were to be sold with existing buildings on them: the solidly built dwelling of the owner with its outbuildings; an overshot water mill in working condition with the capacity to mill 24 bags of grain per day; a smithy, stable and wagon house as well as a row of buildings 61 metres long. There were also 3 000 acres (1 214 hectares) of land put aside for grazing cattle.
The conditions of sale stipulated that all the inhabitants of the proposed 200 erven, “and not one more than 200”, in the proposed village of Stanford would have free access to the water of the village “for culinary and other domestic purposes”, with 97 having irrigation rights. Erf No 1 was on the corner of the present De Bruyn and Buiten Streets, and No 200 is on the corner of Bezuidenhout and Du Toit Streets.
On 30 September 1857 the first two plots, numbers 87 (3 800 square metres) and 88 (3 490 square metres), were registered in Duncan McFarlane’s name. On the same day six more plots were registered: three to Matthys Johannes de Villiers and one each to Izak Stephanus de Villiers, Johannes Stephanus Albertus de Villiers and January Swart, a “Coloured” person. On 2 November 1857 twenty-six more plots were registered to several de Bruyns, van Dyks, Fouries, Groenewalds, Swarts, Havengas, Lourenses, Erwees, more de Villiers’, du Toits and
also to “Coloured” people such as Richard Gardner, Jonas Haas, Jan Mars and Frans Engel. Descendants of many of these early White and Coloured families still live in and around Stanford today.
The voters’ roll of 1903 lists 61 voters at Stanford compared to 88 at Hermanuspietersfontein. But while 58 of the latter were poor fishermen, the Stanford roll included 16 farmers and 27 carriers, with no fishermen at all. For a long time Stanford, with its mill and many shops, was the business centre for the people living at Hermanuspietersfontein. Ephraim George Moore, whose father John William Moore had built Stanford’s mill, purchased the mill, the home and the gardens of Robert Stanford. On the southeastern side of the farmhouse, which he converted into a boarding house, he added a shop which was known as “Ephraim’s Shop”. The boarding house – the young village’s first guest house – was run by his wife Polly and came to be known as “Granny Moore’s boarding house”. After her death it was run by their widowed daughter, Jos Schonegevel.
When Moore’s youngest son Henry (Halley) succeeded him and took over the shop, it became known as Halley’s Shop. During the 1930s Halley’s Shop was one of four general dealers in the village. Halley ran the shop with two assistants, Joseph (Joos) Aploon and Doll Visagie, until 1964. After his death the business complex with the house passed to various owners. Halley, who never married, apparently loved singing and the young people would often gather in his house for sing-songs. He was president of the Rugby Club and from 1919 mayor of Stanford for 25 years.
From 1891 the village was administered by a Village Management Board, with Mr M Walsh as first chairman, Stefanus Erwee and George Moore as members and William A Morton as secretary.
In 1919 a municipality was formed in response to a threat to the village’s water supply. The village received its water from “Die Oog”, a freshwater spring issuing 1 250 000 gallons (4,7 million litres) of water daily on the farm Oogbosch of Hendrik Taljaard, who lived in Caledon Street where he grew grapes for the making of wine and for distilling witblits. When Halley Moore heard that Taljaard was planning to sell Oogbosch to a certain Mr Swart from Uilenkraal, he realized that something had to be done to retain the town’s water supply. A municipality was formed, Halley was elected mayor and Oogbosch with its spring was bought for £2 000.
Although Stanford was founded for commercial reasons and not (like many other South African towns) as a new
church parish, the people of the village had a need for religious instruction. The Afrikaans community was initially served by the ministers of the Dutch Reformed Church at Napier. The first church building, cross-shaped, was completed in 1861 on the site where the church hall stands today on Church Street. In 1909 the reverend P J van der Walt was assigned by the Napier church to live at Stanford and from here to serve the people of the Strandveld. In 1913 Stanford became an independent congregation and in 1926 the present sandstone church with bell-tower was completed at a cost of £12 000. The cost included the clock, the pews and the organ. The old church then served as church hall, until it was demolished in 1958 to make way for the present hall.
The oldest existing church building in Stanford, St Thomas’ Anglican Church in Morton Street, was built around 1880. The rectangular building adjoining it was used as an elementary and Sunday school.
The Full Gospel Church of God in Bezuidenhout Street was built in 1940 by two Du Toit brothers of the neighbouring farms Kleinrivier and Weltevrede with material salvaged from half of the homestead demolished at Weltevrede.
The first mission church was built on the farm Doornkraal in 1930 by the missionary Pietie Vermeulen of Napier. Pietie was the grandson of Johannes Petrus Hendricus (Oupa Jan), the progenitor of the Stanford Vermeulens. Oupa Jan was a missionary and his wife, Betta, acted as midwife. Oupa Jan’s son Jan Jnr bought the farm Bruinklip in 1904 and after his death his son Zacharias (“Sas”, Pietie’s brother), took over the farm. Their sister Mathilda married Coenraad Franken and they had three daughters – Stanford’s three sisters, Joey, Sophie and Hilda. In 1936 Pietie also built a church at Bruinklip. The Bruinklip church building was demolished in 1952 and Pietie then used all salvageable material to build the Dutch Reformed Mission Church in Stanford, today the Uniting Reformed Church in School Street.
The earliest schools were situated on farms in the area. At Paapjes Valley (Papiesvlei) was a Moravian School. There were also schools at Waboomsrivier, Sandhoogte, Bruinklip, Paardenberg, Modderrivier, Springfontein and Withoogte, as well as one on the farm Weltevrede of William and Christina Morton, about 3 km east of the village. The Mortons’ two eldest daughters attended a boarding school at Swellendam, but when the family grew to six and hostel fees increased dramatically, they decided to start their own school at Weltevrede with Mr Morton as the head teacher, assisted by teachers from England. The school also offered boarding to the 25–30 pupils attending it. When the Morton girls grew older, they also helped in the school. In 1897 the farm was sold and the Mortons moved to Hermanus, but the school continued.
There is no record of the first school in the village proper, but according to old inhabitants, Mr James Goetz for about 28 years ran a school in his house on the corner of Morton and Longmarket Streets. It was known as the “Oulap” School, because each child had to pay one penny (“oulap”) per day. In an adjacent building in Longmarket Street, Mr Goetz had the village post office and acted as postmaster for nearly 35 years. He died in 1903 at the age of 72. The Stanford Secondary School was built in 1910 from local sandstone. At first the building consisted of three classrooms, with Mr Hofstede, the first government schoolteacher, living in one of these. In 1914 two more classrooms were added and in 1961 a school hall. In 1972 the school was renamed Okkie Smuts Primary School after Mr Okkie Smuts, principal of the school for 29 years (1920–1949).
The first hostel on the corner of Shortmarket and Morton Streets was opened in 1921 with Johnnie Ham and his wife in charge. They were succeeded by a Miss Uys, who had the boarders gardening, cleaning their own rooms and peeling vegetables. Miss Uys bought the old parsonage next to the Dutch Reformed church in 1932 and after alterations moved the hostel there. Later the present, larger hostel would be built right next to it on the same erf.
In 1936 sixteen erven on the hill opposite the old cemetery were bought for £1 000 for a school farm, Kleinbegin, for practical instruction in agriculture. Mr Ponté Haupt, teacher at the Secondary School 1945–57 after whom a street on the hill has been named, later stayed in the house on the farm. He said the hill was called “Tettekop” by the Coloureds who had houses along the river. The teacher and pupils did all the work on the farm, assisted by Jim Lebote, a Xhosa. All produce was sold. There were registered Jersey cows which produced milk; also 3 000 hanepoot vines, with onions and sweet potatoes as the main cash crops. During 1937–41 there was also a small hostel on the farm.
There were three other agricultural plots on the hill. Bordering the school farm was the plot of Mr George Carse, then came Mr Duminy’s and at the far end was that of Mr Louis Swart. Between the bluegum trees and Kleinbegin were beehives which Mr Koos Lourens looked after.
Die Bron Primary School started as the Anglican school in Morton Street under the name St Thomas’ Mission School, during the latter part of the nineteenth century. Around 1914 the school had two classrooms and space became a problem. With the help of mayor Halley Moore the present grounds were obtained in 1938 and a three-classroomed building was inaugurated in August 1939, and in 1966 two more classrooms were added. In 1974 the Government bought the school from the church and in 1980 the present school was built and named “Die Bron Primary” at the official opening in 1983.
When automobiles started replacing ox-wagons and horse carts in Stanford, Mr Levi Boucher, then owner of the building that today houses the Stanford Hotel and the first owner of a lorry in Stanford, installed two petrol pumps, an Atlantic and a Pegasus. He later also bought a Texaco pump.
A barber, Mr Willemse, used to walk over the mountain from Ertjiesvlei in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley every Saturday to cut hair. This was the event of the week and the men used to gather on the stoep of a house in Longmarket Street for some merry-making with George Carse and Levi Boucher as the main raconteurs.
In 1941 the municipality bought the water mill and water rights for £1 400. When legislation soon after prohibited the operation of private mills, the mill was sold to Mr Murray Jardine of New Granton on the road to Hermanus. He planned to use the mill to generate electricity, but the water supply from the waterfalls at the well-known Pig’s Snout proved inconsistent. Jardine later offered the mill to farmer Philip du Toit of Kleinrivier but, as du Toit never acted on the offer, the remains were sold as scrap. The main teak beam was kept and built into the fireplace at New Granton.
The water scheme to the village providing residents with water-on-tap was completed in 1945 at a cost of approximately £6 000. In December 1951 Stanford offered Hermanus 600 000 gallons (2,27 million litres) of water daily in exchange for electricity for Stanford. The offer was declined and the villagers had to wait ten more years before Stanford would be supplied with electricity. When it finally happened it was a joyous occasion which was celebrated on the village green.
By 1952 there were 440 whites and 380 Coloured persons – a total of 180 families – living in Stanford, many of whom were vegetable gardeners, vendors, teachers, clerks, businessmen, retired farmers and pensioners. By then the town had two churches, two schools, a hotel, six shops, one butcher, a petrol station and a police station. Around 1954 the village employed a Mr Mostert as street watchman, at £3 per month plus half a crown for each summons. The town suffered a great loss when in 1962 all the accounting books and many other records were lost in a fire in the municipal office through the alleged negligence of the town clerk. Initially the proposal for a village library met with resistance from a small group who felt that the Bible was sufficient reading, but a library was nevertheless opened on 8 October 1977.
The market square, one of Stanford’s main assets, was where all the sporting activities took place – rugby, netball (or basket ball, as it was then called), as well as hockey (sometimes played with hockey sticks cut from the branches of the milkwood trees at the “Oog”). On the northern corner of the market square there were two tennis courts. The Coloured people in Stanford started playing rugby in 1899 and the whites soon joined in the game. Jan Swart, later mayor of Stanford, regularly played for Western Province in the Currie Cup competitions.
In 1921 he was chosen for the Springbok trials, but fell ill and could not play. In rugby matches between Bredasdorp, Villiersdorp, Caledon, Hermanus and Stanford, Stanford won the Newmark Trophy in 1923 and 1925. During the Second World War most of these sporting events came to a standstill and amenities deteriorated to the extent that they could no longer be used.
In 1945 Ponté Haupt started building the Stanford rugby field on municipal land on the eastern side of town, with bluegum poles serving as goal posts, and he also had the tennis courts rebuilt. To involve the young farmers, he introduced jukskei, for which he had seven courts made next to the tennis courts. The club continued until the late 1990s.
After the demise of the mill in the 1940s, Stanford lost its position as the commercial centre for the coastal area. It was overtaken in size by both Hermanus, which developed as a fishing, tourist and business centre, and the newer Gansbaai, where investments in commercial fishing drove expansion. As Stanford did not have a high school, the size of its population declined even further.
After the Nationalist Party came to power in South Africa in 1948, the community of Stanford was for ever changed by the new policies of “apartheid” or racial segregation. Whereas “Whites” and “Coloureds” had lived together in the village since its inception, the latter group was now forcibly moved to new housing in “The Scheme”.
The economic turnaround slowly started in 1982, when a few city people “discovered” this quiet getaway with low property prices. Empty buildings were bought and renovated as holiday or retirement homes. The influx of new people increased gradually, and new developments appeared by the turn of the century. Since then property prices have increased exponentially, and the village – which on 5 December 2000 became part of the Overstrand Municipality – is now expanding at a rate that may see the number of buildings double in a few years. The roster of approved erven has grown from the 200 originally envisaged, to over 2 000 at present. Some residents feel that development is getting out of hand and that the village will lose the quiet charm that makes it special. Only time will tell. At its 150th anniversary, many streets in Stanford were still untarred, work had only just started on a water-borne sewerage system, there were only two stop signs in the main street, and the only traffic light was at the door of a pub (now in 2014 also no longer), showing when it was open or closed. In winter, domestic ducks swam on the village green.