Old Buildings (Part 3)

This 3rd part of the Old Buildings Series was quite nostalgic for me. I returned to the neighbourhood of my youth. In Woodstock, when I was growing up there was the Lord Milner Hotel, where a school friend and his family were residing. Then there was the house that my father grew up in. These two buildings are landmarks of Old Cape Town and together they are steeped in history.

First though the Lord Milner Hotel. The hotel itself does not exist anymore. It is now the premises of the King James Ad Agency – incidentally this Ad Agency was awarded the ADREVIEW AGENCY OF THE YEAR 2011.

The building has been renovated, in fact is still in the process of renovation. One can still however get the feel of the old building by looking at the style of architecture. Instead of the brick paved parking area – the old hotel had lawns and trees and park benches. It was always a peaceful place to be. After school, some days, I would walk my friend home and we would sit under the trees and eat our sandwiches before I walked up the steep road homeward.

The building dates back to 1850 and has Cape “Georgian” features and became the Lord Milner Hotel in 1903.

Next, the Ruth Prowse School of Art. This was the old Roodebloem House, and it was on this property that my father lived as a young boy. He lived in the portion of the structure to the immediate left of the main building.

He tells of the times he and his brother would climb up onto the flat roof of their dwelling and fly model aeroplanes.

In 1661 the Dutch East India Company granted 16 morgen of land to one Hendrik Lacus. The name of the estate was de Roodebloem which was derived from the red flower of the Watsonia plant growing on Table Mountain. The property changed owners many time before it became the property of the Laubscher family. The Ruth Prowse School of Art was established by Erik Laubscher – a descendant of the earlier Laubscher family.

Ruth Prowse occupied the thatch cottage also called  “The Retreat”.

This building has also been lovingly restored by the school’s benefactors, Brendalyn and Ernest Stempel, and the renowned architect John Rennie.


Thanks go to  Eunice Geustyn, the executive head of the Ruth Prowse School of Art, for  sharing a fact sheet about the school.

Further information about Roodebloem House was obtained from an October 1985 issue of LANTERN.

Also, thank you to Cameron Benjamin of King James Ad Agency for the information he gave me.

3 thoughts on “Old Buildings (Part 3)

  1. Firstly i would like to say that i like your site’s design and secondly..The information provided here in good and reliable. I would like to say that you have really done a great job here. Thumbs up!

  2. When my parents and myself and my baby sister arrived in SA on 17th July 1947 we stayed at the Lord Milner Hotel for a while. I was three years old, but I remember it clearly. We eventually moved into Gasworks House between the gasworks and the siding below the railway line.
    My father, Arthur Shellard had been seconded from Mold Gasworks in Flintshire, Wales, to run the Gas Works near the railway line and Woodstock Sation. The Chames Family owned the hotel at that time.
    In 1960 when we left SA to go back to the UK we stayed there again and the Chames family were still the owners, as all our possessions were packed and ready to be loaded on board the ship that would take us away from SA.
    My Dad and I travelled on the train to Stellenbosch everydayfor about 4 months until we left. We walked down to Salt River station and changed trains at Bellville. He went to the Stellenbosch University to wind up his job.
    We had moved from Cape Town to Stellenbosch when I was about 5. He managed the Gas Works in Van der Byl Street for the University. It supplied Coal gas to the hostels and to the Science Department.
    I accompanied him on the train, as I had obtained a job at the local book-shop in Stellenbosch, where the students bought their text-books, giving me some pocket money for the trip to England.
    The hotel will always stay in my memory as will the wonderful Chames family. The gardens you speak of were lovely and shady. The beautiful staircase inside always fascinated me. There are many other things to tell about my times there but this is enough for now.

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