Modern History of Camps Bay

Even with the new road and the hotel with its skittles and pigeons, there were still very few residents to take advantage of the area once the carts containing groups of holiday makers and picknickers had vanished from the summer sun.

The only permanent resident was Captain William W. Glendinning who owned “a vast tract of land in Camps Bay on which were a house and outbuildings erected by Somerset during his term of office and said to have been used as a hunting lodge, fully stocked with game brought from the country.”

it was to be another century before before the “gold” in Camps Bay was to be exploited by merchants, restaurateurs and property agents

He thought his land had considerable potential for development and in 1855 decided to offer forty building lots in Camps bay for sale, one of which had a “substantial building” on it called Camps Bay House – this had been Somersets House. He announced that he was selling because he intended to leave the colony but he seems to have changed his mind when he was unable to sell and decided to build instead.

In 1859 Glendinning was advertising again. This time he announced he had found gold in Camps Bay !

There was a brief flurry of excitement, but even this does not appear to have stimulated prospective home owners or prospectors to buy his forty plots and it was to be another century before before the “gold” in Camps Bay was to be exploited by merchants, restaurateurs and property agents.

Camps Bay by now was a popular picknick spot. Because the area was relatively uninhabited and the beach was large and secluded, the Victorian family could picknick and frolic there in seclusion and privacy.

Description: by Mr. Andres de Smidt

Green streches of turf under the oak trees, with a running stream and well within easy reach of sand and sea, make it an ideal rendezvous for camping and picnics.

For a long time Camps Bay, which was so close to the city and had such dramatic views, remained undeveloped. As accessibility to the town was poor, very few people live there.

Enormous profit could be seen for the property developer who could see the potential and would be farsighted enough to buy up these vast tracts of cheap land, and lay it out into townships, if only accessibility could be improved.

Eventually a syndicate was formed to buy up all the freehold land in Camps Bay. They intended to construct roads into Camps Bay and install a tramway to bring Camps bay into easy reach from the city. Once this was done they anticipated that home owners would flock to the newly opened suburb. The syndicate would subdivide Camps Bay into building lots, sell the tramway and reap the benefits of their planning.

Camps Bay entered the Twentieth Century with a state of the art tourist attraction – a spectacular tram ride whose route gave enthralled visitors glimpses of unsurpassed views of mountain and sea.