Beyond the city limits : people and property at Wynberg 1795-1927

Doctoral Thesis


Permanent link to this Item
Journal Title
Link to Journal
Journal ISSN
Volume Title

University of Cape Town

This study of peri-urban development in the Western Cape examines the acquisition and exploitation of property as an important feature in attaining economic power and high social status by upwardly-mobile people in a colonial setting. The choice of Wynberg in the southern Cape Peninsula as a focal point in this process is predicated upon its rapid growth during the nineteenth century in response to the need for a service centre in this comparatively undeveloped area, and the vigorous marketing which followed its recognition as a desirable and convenient place of residence. Its establishment owed much to the presence and requirements of the British military camp at Wynberg, but its continued growth and expansion can be attributed to the activities of the property developers, the efforts of a lively commercial sector and the construction of the Wynberg Railway. This process of residential and economic development is the main theme of the first five chapters of this thesis and is based, inter alia, on intensive primary research in the Cape Town Deeds Office. By 1880 Wynberg had become the centre of a new surge of growth beyond the city limits of Cape Town, eventually achieving smalltown status with its own independent municipality. There were substantial demographic changes in the area and this thesis contends that the multi-faceted development at Wynberg was facilitated both by particular individuals and interest groups. The inequalities in its evolving social formation which included not only landed proprietors but also many landless people, was not unique and was informed by the pervasive colonial belief in the dominance of European organising principles and capitalist market forces in relation to the exploitation of land. Historically, Wynberg resisted incorporation into the metropolitan area because it had achieved a high level of self-sufficiency by the end of the century. The institution of its municipal council and the defence of its independence prior to and after 1913 when the other Peninsula municipalities were amalgamated with Cape Town, forms the second major theme which is examined in Chapters 6 to 9 of this thesis. Its determined struggle to retain its autonomy ended in 1127 when it yielded to financial and other pressures, whereupon it was formally incorporated within the city limits of Cape Town.

Bibliography: pages 575-599.