Insider scoop on Durbanville
Durbanville boasts both rural charm and proximity to Cape Town’s buzz. It also has its very own thriving cultural scene.
Founded on Farming
Traditionally a farming community, Durbanville’s original farms were established in the area in 1698, but the town itself was born only in 1825 with the application by a group of resident farmers to build a church kick-starting the growth of the surrounding settlement. The town was called Pampoenkraal until 1836, when it was renamed D’Urban after the Cape governor Sir Benjamin d’Urban. Fifty years later, the name was amended to Durbanville to avoid confusion with the city of Durban in what was then the colony of Natal.
A Centenary of Growth
The town’s municipality was established in 1910 and Durbanville has continued to grow in the last 100 years, while still, remarkably, retaining the charm of yesteryear. Several of its buildings – among them the Dutch Reformed Church (built in 1825), the All Saints Anglican Church (1860), Kings Court (1905) and the Rust-en-Vrede complex (now home to the Durbanville Cultural Society, The Clay Museum, The Potter’s Shop, The Gallery Café and a tourism information office) – have been declared national monuments, while the Onze Molen windmill is another fascinating landmark in the area.
Steeped in Heritage
Durbanville boasts an interesting blend of architectural styles, including Edwardian, Victorian, Georgian and Cape Dutch, with even some Byzantine Revival influence seen in the synagogue’s facade. Natural beauty comes by way of the many working wine farms, which provide vistas of vineyards that stretch over rolling hills towards magnificent views of Table Mountain. The Durbanville Nature Reserve is famed for its conservation of many rare fynbos species. Its history is also noteworthy as its establishment resulted from a resolution by the National Council of Women in 1960, and it was maintained by them for many years before it was given reserve status. And, adjacent to the reserve is the Durbanville Racecourse, host to a number of significant equestrian events.
Yet, despite the strong historical and rural underpinnings of the town, Durbanville meets all the requirements of modern life, with several shopping centres, restaurants, business parks and medical facilities. The area is also home to a noteworthy community of artists and artisans.
A Durbanville Resident’s View
George Sieraha is the chairman of the Durbanville Community Forum and has lived in Durbanville for eight years.
‘Durbanville lends itself to a tranquil lifestyle. It has some vast open spaces and breathtaking views. Building heights are reasonable so you still get the feeling that you are in a town and not a megacity. It’s called the ‘Jewel of the North’ and that is undisputed. You only have to travel from the N7 towards Durbanville on the Vissershok Road to see the many wine farms and olive groves.
In winter it is quite an experience to drive between the hills covered with yellow canola blossom, and on a clear day you can see for miles to the mountain ranges. Some of the suburbs back onto wine farms with fantastic views. Business opportunities are picking up. We have wonderful guest houses with conference facilities. The Heritage Square building is attracting new feet, and a shopping centre is to be built right across from the Post Office.
Because of the beauty and accessibility of the area, Durbanville hosts various cycling events, including the Cape Epic Challenge, which gets international attention. Further afield, Tygervalley Centre and Willow Bridge are extremely popular, as is Cape Gate. There is a real sense of community here – you only need to read the local papers to confirm this. We have a centre to teach life skills to those less fortunate, a soup kitchen and several other initiatives run by local councillors and volunteers.
Text: Candice Botha