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Our History 

The Early Development of Tamboer's Kloof

Tamboer’s Kloof was the name of one of the major estates on which the suburb was developed. Various suggestions have been given for the origin of the name, but none of these can be substantiated. The well-known archivist, Dr Graham Botha, in his “Place names in the Cape District’, stated that he had been unable to determine the origin of the name. An early reference is made to the estate in the Council of Policy Minutes of 31 July 1787, during the governorship of Cornelis Jacob van der Graaf. It reads:

‘een stuk land annex desselfs oude land en thuin genaamd Tambour’s Cloof en Abraham’s Clooff geleegen in deeze Tafelvalley aan de voet der Leeuwen Bill’.

                                                  (Cape Archives VC 464 p53)

‘a piece of land adjacent to the old land and garden named Tamboer’s Kloof and Abraham's Kloof lying in the Table Valley at the foot of the Lions Rump’ (i.e. Signal Hill)

The Tamboer’s Kloof estate included land lying approximately from Burnside Road to the east and above Leeuwenvoet Road, running up the hill well beyond the building line (see map below). The first development of the suburb commenced at the lower south end of the estate.

To the west of the Tamboer’s Kloof estate lay Leeuwenvoet, the farm of the Jurgens family (see map). The lower part of this was soon added to the new suburb, from Belle Ombre Road eastwards towards to lower Carstens Street and down to the Kloof road (now Kloof Nek Road). Reference to the map shows how the boundary of Leeuwenvoet accounts for the s-bend in the Kloof Nek Road, while a house across the upper part of New Church Street resulted in this street not being connected to Kloof Nek Road until the early twentieth century.

Above Warren Street and across Hastings Street was a rectangle of land granted to Johannes Brink on 23 June 1799. Here a house was built and a garden laid out. By 1805 this land, with extensions to St Michael's Road, was owned by A Smuts, while an erf near Kloof Nek Road and Belle Ombre Road was granted to A J Nezer on 15 June 1808, a property was called Colleen Glen. Along the boundary of Nezer’s property is shown ‘wagenpad na die tuin van Smuts’ (wagon road to the garden of Smuts).

Map Key

1    =    Belle Ombre Road

   =    Burnside Road

   =    Brownlow Road

The early development of the suburb was to the East of Belle Omre Road, and from Browlow Road downwards.

A: Land, mainly owned in the early 1800's by A Smuts and A J Nezer, much of which was later incorporated in the Bellevue Estate.

B, C, D: Land granted to Ernst Frederick Schrader in 1805 and transferred to Michiel J Smuts of Bellevue in 1813.

E, F, G: Three pieces of land granted to E F Schrader in 1808 and transferred to Michiel J Smuts of Bellevue in 1813.


1) The School is situated near the lower right hand corner of A.

2) The S-bend in Kloof Road (now Kloof Nek Road) follows the lower border of the Leeuwenvoet Estate.

At the top of Kloof Street still stands Bellevue Homestead (much altered), now St John’s Hostel. This was originally the property of Michiel Jan Smuts. On the upper side of Kloof Nek Road, and above St Michael's Road, were four erven originally granted to Ernst Frederick Schrader in 1805. In 1808 Michiel Smuts purchased these and so extended the Bellevue estate up to the boundary of A Smuts’ land. The two were later amalgamated and thus when the land on which the school stands was sold, most of it was part of the extended Bellevue estate.

In a Cape Town directory of 1833 incorporated in Dr C Pama’s ‘Regency Cape Town’ we find these three estates listed:

Cruywagen, C                             Tambour’s-Kloof
Jurgens, J               garden         Leeuwenvoet
Smuts, Michall        garden         Bellefleur    
(note the variation of spelling)

Fifty years later, in the directories of 1881 and 1883 we find:

Roos, Thomas H      retired farmer        Bellevue, Kloof Road
Roos, J N H             clerk                      Bellevue, Kloof Road

It was the Roos family which consolidated the land on which Tamboer’s Kloof School now stands.

Whereas the estates in the Gardens area, with their perpetual mountain streams and springs, were largely developed for vegetable production, those on the Signal Hill side were not so well watered and became vineyards. Dr Pama, in ‘Vintage Cape Town’, describes Bellevue as a wine farm and says the Smuts family owned a number of other farms and so later moved further out of town. P W Laidler, in ‘A Tavern of the Ocean’, says that by the sixth decade of the nineteenth century, ‘District Six was still open veld, Orangezicht was a fir forest and Tamboer’s Kloof a vineyard.’ The upper portions of Signal Hill were, of course, not cultivated and right up to the end of the nineteenth century were covered with the natural fynbos, especially sugar-bush. The spread of pine forest has destroyed this.

During the period July 1892 to October 1902 eight pieces of land on the western side of lower Belle Ombre Road were transferred to Johannes Henoch Neethling Ross. These comprised sections of Bellevue, a small portion of Leeuwenvoet from the estate of the late A A Jurgens and some ‘derelict land’, which he consolidated as Erf 593, Tamboer’s Kloof, and then divided up into thirty six lots plus Coronation Avenue. Six of these lots were purchased for the ‘undenominational Public School’, Tamboer’s Kloof, the transfer being dated 6 March 1903. Today the school grounds cover twenty-five of the original lots and a portion of the original Coronation Avenue which was connected to Byron Street.

The Story of the School

The Establishment of a School

In 1902, when a committee was first formed, a new school was not initiated by the Department of Education but by a committee of local residents working together with the Superintendent-General of Education. The Rev. J J McClure was the first chairman of the committee so formed. The school was by no means a ‘private’ one as may be seen from the names appearing on the deed of transfer of the land, viz:

Thomas Muir, Superintendent-General of Education
Harry Remington Horne, Civil Commissioner of the Cape
John James Muir, Chairman of the Undenominational Public School, Tamboer’s Kloof

The deed of transfer describes them as ‘constituting the Committee of Management for the time being of the said Undenominational Public School, Tamboer’s Kloof.’ The original school of 1903 was thus truly ‘official’.

The School Opens
The school opened on Monday 2 February 1903 with 40 pupils. If used a house which stood on one of the six plots purchased, approximately where the present hall stands. The Principal was Miss Sinclair Shaw, who was assisted by Miss H Hyd Deacon. Members of the committee attended the opening day, but the official opening by Dr T Muir, Superintendent-General of Education, took place a fortnight later.

The first school time-table was:

08:45 - 09:00    Prayers
09:00 - 10:45    Secular Instruction
10:45 - 11:00    Interval
11:00 - 12:45    Secular Instruction
12:45 - 13:45    Interval
13:45 - 14:45    Secular Instruction

On Mondays, the period 9:00 to 9:25 was devoted to a Bible lesson. In accordance with normal practice up to about World War II (1939) the commencing time was quite late and the main break was sufficient for many of the pupils to go home for lunch. As the total tuition time of this timetable was only 4,5 hours, the school was asked by the Departmental Inspector to increase this to the standard five hours for the upper standards.

There was immediate growth, but naturally most of the pupils were in the same standards. By the middle of the first year the total was 55, distributed as shown in the following table:


A New Building

A properly designed school building was an obvious necessity. The school was fortunate to have on its committee an architect, Fred Cherry, M.R.I.A.I., who lived in Warren Street. He was an Irishman who came to the Cape in 1880 and set up a private practice in 1892. He was asked to design the building, and the committee appointed F Boesen, who lived in Brownlow Road as builder. By now, the act governing schools had been amended, and school boards had been established. This meant that the local committees were no longer personally responsible for financial deficits as had been the case when the school opened. The new building had its foundation stone laid by the Prime Minister, Sir Walter Hely Hutchinson, on 11th September 1905. It was completed in time for the 1906 school year, being officially opened by Dr Muir in February of that year.


The (then) new Public School in Tamboer's Kloof opened by

H E Governor, Sir Walter Henly Hutchinson, 1906.


A general view of the proceedings at the laying of the

Foundation Stone Ceremony, on Monday the 11th September 1905.


With the new building there was no need to use the old house. It was apparently let, as Juta’s Street Directory shows it as occupied by Geo Duncan in 1907, by Mrs H Tyler from 1908 through to 1913 and in 1914 by G E Lincey. Later the house was again used by the school, housing the sub-standards until the second story was added to the building in 1936.

The Growing School
In 1904 Miss H P Gilfillan was appointed principal, continuing until the early 1920s, when, due to bad health she took long leave and Miss Deacon, the foundation teacher, acted for her.

In those days Std VI was a Junior School class, but in 1909 the school went further and started a Std VII, i.e. high school, class. The next year the school commenced training pupil teachers, five being shown on the school roll. This training continued until 1916. This was before the days when all teachers were trained in Training Colleges or Universities.

The relatively small numbers in the upper standards, especially since boys were only taken up to Std III, together with the training of teachers, complicated organisation as the total enrollment did not justify the extra teachers. The inspection report of 18 May 1914 recognised this problem and suggested certain rearrangement of classes to reduce the load on the principle, who was taking five groups together.

The enrollment exceeded 200 for the first time in 1918. By 1922 it had reached 265 and the Std VII high school work was discontinued. Balance of the numbers in different groups was still a serious problem and the single Sub A class totalled 56.

In the early 1920’s free education was introduced, and parents then had to vote as to whether they wished the school to be fee-paying or free. Voting forms were sent to all parents, with the proviso that should a parent vote for free schooling and the majority vote for paying fees, the department would have the right in any subsequent re-organisation which might be necessary to transfer that pupil to a free school. The majority voted for free schooling, and from the second half of 1922 the old Tamboer’s Kloof Public School report form disappeared and the Departmental standard form was used.

Electric lighting was introduced in some classrooms in 1920, but even in 1945 the inspection report referred to four classrooms as being dark on dull and rainy days as they had no electric lighting.

First building extensions
By the mid 1930’s the school enrollment was approaching 300, and there was now a serious lack of accommodation in the original single-story building and the old house. The problem was solved by adding another story to the building, and this was opened by Mr H Z van der Merwe, Secretary for Education, on the afternoon of Thursday, 23 April 1936. The enrollment had increased considerably and was nearly 400. The extra classrooms resulted in the use of the old house for other purposes - the large kindergarten classroom as a small hall and the other rooms for storage.

The need for additional grounds
Although the building space was sufficient for the 1936 activities there was a serious problem of lack of grounds - there were too many children playing in too small a space and the surface could not stand up to the wear. In 1949 the inspector described the grounds as ‘neat and tidy’ but he also referred to the drains becoming clogged by loose gravel.

In 1955 the inspector reported:

‘An adjoining property has been purchased by the educational authorities. The large house is about to be demolished and the grounds will be terraced, levelled and partly macadamised.’

This was the house ‘Rostrevor’ which stood on six of the original lots (as did the school) and had for many years been the residence of Dr Hugo Hamman. Today the junior primary (sub-standards A and B) stand partly on this area and also on ground later acquired.

It is interesting to note that the old boundary wall between the original school grounds and this area still remains. At the top end of the underground playground, which is beneath the Sub A and B classrooms, there is a storage space, and inside this is the old retaining wall of the original school grounds.



Map Showing Land sold by

Johannes Henoch Neethling Roos in 1902.

Original School Grounds: Lots 4, 5, 6, 15, 16, 17

Added in 1955: Lots, 1, 2, 3, 18, 19, 20

Added in 1970: Lots 21 - 27; 31 - 36 and part of Coronation Road.

Std VI transferred to High Schools

In 1953 the Std VI classes of all primary schools were transferred to the high schools. This naturally resulted in a drop in enrollment, but by the mid 1960’s the number of pupils was again showing a marked increase. The school continued to grow steadily until once more there was a need for more space for classrooms as well as a library and sports field.


Further extensions of buildings and grounds

The department purchased a block of houses which stood on 13 of the original erven, and obtained permission from the City Council to incorporate part of Coronation Avenue in the school property. Thus the grounds now stretch from the remaining portion of Coronation Street through to Byron Street, and from Belle Ombre Road through to Warren Street. The buildings were opened in 1971, the total extensions comprising: the main foyer and hall foyer, the hall, library and changing rooms, the woodwork and special class block, the sub A and sub B classrooms, the sports field and the netball and tenisette courts.

This short historical overview of TKPS was taken from the TKPS 80th Anniversary History Booklet published in 1983. The booklet acknowledges the following people/departments for their assistance in compiling this overview.

The Department of Education of the Cape for permission to use extracts and information contained in Inspector’s reports.

The Cape Times for permission to reproduce two photographs.

The South African Library, the Cape Archives and the Deeds Office, Cape Town for assistance in obtaining information relative to the history of the area and land ownership.

Mr Crawford for his research in the South African Library and at the Deeds Office.

Mr W A  Kerkham, once a pupil of the school, for research in the Cape Archives, the Deeds Office and the South African Library. He was also

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