Swellendam is the 4th oldest town in the Republic of South Africa,
a town with 17,537 inhabitants situated in the
Western Cape province.
The town has over 50 provincial heritage sites, most of them buildings
Cape Dutch architecture.
Swellendam is situated on the N2,
approximately 220 km from both
Cape Town and George.
2 Famous pioneer families of Swellendam
4 Fauna and flora
8 Coats of arms
9 Ukwanda Center for Rural Health
11 External links
Boer Republic of
Swellendam (red) and other Dutch territories around
Kingdom of Mapungubwe
Kingdom of Mapungubwe (1050–1270)
Kingdom of Mutapa
Kingdom of Mutapa (1430–1760)
Dutch Cape Colony
Dutch Cape Colony (1652–1795)
Mthethwa Paramountcy (ca. 1780–1817)
Ndwandwe (ca. 1780–1817)
Cape Colony (1795–1802)
Dutch Cape Colony
Dutch Cape Colony (1802–06)
Cape Colony (1806–1910)
Waterboer's Land (1813–71)
Zulu Kingdom (1818–97)
Adam Kok's Land
Adam Kok's Land (1825–61)
Natalia Republic (1839–43)
South African Republic
South African Republic (1852–1902)
Orange Free State
Orange Free State (1854–1902)
Republic of Utrecht
Republic of Utrecht (1854–58)
Lydenburg Republic (1856–60)
Griqualand East (1861–79)
Griqualand West (1870–80)
Diggers' Republic (1870-71)
Nieuw Republiek (1884–88)
Klein Vrystaat (1886–91)
Cape Colony (1652–1910)
South Africa (1910–61)
South Africa (1961–present)
South Africa portal
Early travellers and explorers who visited the Cape in the 16th
century traded with the
Khoikhoi people who lived on these shores and
in the interior. When the
Dutch East India Company
Dutch East India Company established a
replenishment station at the Cape in 1652, trade continued inland as
far as Swellendam.
Swellendam was declared a magisterial district, the third
oldest in South Africa, and was named after Governor Hendrik
Swellengrebel, the first South African born Governor, and his wife,
Helena Ten Damme. This outlying settlement soon became a gateway to
the interior, and was visited by many famous explorers and travellers
François Le Vaillant
François Le Vaillant (1781),
Lady Anne Barnard
Lady Anne Barnard (1798),
William John Burchell
William John Burchell (1815) and
Thomas William Bowler
Thomas William Bowler (1860). In
time, a village was established beyond the Drostdy, where artisans
including numerous wainwrights and traders settled.
Swellendam was the
last outpost of Dutch civilisation on the eastern frontier and thus
the services of the residents of the town were of utmost importance.
By 1795 maladministration and inadequacies of the Dutch East India
Company caused the long-suffering burghers of
Swellendam to revolt,
and on 17 June 1795 they declared themselves a Republic.
was appointed as President of the Republic of Swellendam. The burghers
Swellendam started to call themselves "national burghers" – after
the style of the French Revolution. However, the Republic was
short-lived and was ended on 4 November 1795 when the Cape was
occupied by the Kingdom of Great Britain. With the arrival of
British settlers in the early 19th century the Overberg boomed, and
Swellendam was soon the heart of the mercantile empire of Barry and
Nephews, created by Joseph Barry, which dominated trade in the area up
until 1870. The
Breede River is the only navigable river in South
Africa and ships sailed 35 km up river to Malgas
to unload and load merchandise.
By the middle of the 19th century, the eastern districts had been
colonised by the British settlers and
Swellendam was a thriving
metropolis. The town served as a useful refreshment station on the
long, slow journey up the coast. Today
Swellendam is a flourishing
agricultural area, and has many attractive and historic buildings
which serve as a reminder of its past. The first known sketch of
Swellendam was of the Drostdy, by Johannes Schumacher in 1776, when he
accompanied the son of Governor Swellengrebel to the town. Today the
Drostdy forms part of a museum complex that consist of several
heritage sites, namely the Drostdy, the old Goal and Mayville.
In June 2011, the
Swellendam Municipality area, which includes
Barrydale, Suurbraak, Malgas, Infanta and Stormsvlei, re-declared
itself a Republic. This republic is dedicated to the principles of the
New South Africa, and celebrates rural life, racial harmony, respect
for nature and wildlife, and aims to promote sustainability and an
"unplugged" way of life for all to enjoy.
Famous pioneer families of Swellendam
Some of the well known families that settled in the region and have
stayed for decades are the Barry family, the Moodies from Scotland,
the Steyns, the
Streicher family, the van Eedens, the Rothmanns, the
Tomlinson and the Dunn family
The region has a predominantly Mediterranean climate. There are long
summer days in January and February. During February and March, summer
draws to a close, with prevailing South Easter winds. April and May
are autumnal months, with milder days and occasional showers. June and
July bring the Cape winter, with mild weather, rain and possible snow
on the mountain tops. August and September are the start of spring.
Fauna and flora
The Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve against the
Three nature reserves are situated near Swellendam, Marloth Nature
Reserve, Sanbona Wildlife Reserve and
Bontebok National Park. Bontebok
National Park is where the rare bontebok was protected when it was
close to extinction. The population has increased from 17 individuals
in 1931 to a sustainable number today.
The area is botanically diverse with an abundance of wild flowers and
fynbos. The 250ha indigenous forest at Grootvadersbosch is the most
noteworthy in the southwestern Cape. Woods like these are rare to find
in the Cape this far west of the Knysna forests.
Wildlife such as the formerly endangered bontebok and Cape mountain
zebra inhabit the area. Other species include bushbuck, klipspringer,
grey rhebuck, Cape grysbok, baboon, mongoose, genet and the occasional
leopard, as well as a species of ghost frog and a unique forest
emperor butterfly. Over 200 bird species found near the town include
waterfowl, the crowned eagle, black eagle, Narina trogon, paradise
flycatcher and the Knysna woodpecker.
Witsand, a small coastal town about 50 km from Swellendam, is one
of the best whale viewing spots on the South coast as it is the
largest whale nursery in South Africa. The town is
situated at the foot of the Langeberg, and there are many hiking
trails, ranging from day-walks to a 5 to 7-day trail.
Wheat, canola, oats, sheep and dairy farming is practised in the area.
Sentraal-Suid Koöperasie serves as a co-operative in the area.
May 2007 the
Swellendam VOR SWV 114.4 MHz was permanently
Building of the
Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk
Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk in Swellendam.Also
known as the "Wit Kerk" by locals
The Old Drostdy
A restored mill
Coats of arms
Drostdy arms — In 1804, when the
Cape Colony was ruled by the
Batavian Republic, the government assigned armorial seals to each of
the drostdyen, i.e. administrative districts.
Swellendam was given the
arms of its founder, Hendrik Swellengrebel, namely a golden shield
displaying a blue fleur de lis with a red band. An anchor was placed
behind the shield. The British authorities discontinued the drostdy
seals in 1814, and replaced them with the royal coat of arms.
Municipality (1) — The town of
Swellendam established a municipality
in 1843. Some time later, the town council decided to adopt the old
drostdy arms (although it was not the legal successor to the drostdy).
It mistook the fleur de lis for a sheaf of wheat, and thus actually
created a new design.
Municipality (2) — In 1929, the town council learned that the
Swellengrebel arms actually depicted a fleur de lis and not a sheaf of
wheat. It changed the municipal arms accordingly. Both arms were
depicted on cigarette cards issued in 1931.
Divisional council — The divisional council, i.e. the local
authority for the rural areas outside the town, assumed its own coat
of arms on 15 November 1974. and registered it at the Bureau of
Heraldry in October 1975.
The arms - Per pale Azure and Or, a fleur-de-lis and in chief two
mullets of six points counterchanged, i.e. a shield divided vertically
into blue and gold, and a fleur de lis below two six-pointed stars -
were designed by Cornelis Pama. The crest was an anchor entwined with
a grapevine with the motto Lucem spero.
Ukwanda Center for Rural Health
The Ukwanda Center for Rural Health, through its logistics arm aligns
to the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS) strategy, with
the overarching focus on health professional training and research
with community engagement that is relevant to the South African
context. Central to the vision of this ongoing commitment is the
continuous training of healthcare professionals with applicable
knowledge and hands on experience of the health issues facing rural
and under served communities in South Africa.
Ukwanda Center for Rural Health offers a unique opportunity to a few
students where they can develop their clinical reasoning skills,
diagnostic skills, perform many procedures and be exposed to the
realities of rural medical practice through the Longitudinal
Swellendam Hospital serves as one of the
Longitudinal Integrated Model sites.
^ "Chronological order of town establishment in
South Africa based on
Floyd (1960:20–26)" (PDF). pp. xlv–lii.
^ a b c d "Main Place Swellendam". Census 2011.
^ Floyd, TB (1960). "What are the Oldest Towns in South
Swellendam Republic accepts British rule". South African
History Online. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
^ Rosenthal, Eric. 1978. Encyclopaedia of Southern Africa. Cape Town
and Johannesburg: Juta and Company Limited
^ van der Walt, J.M.; L.H. Nel; A.R. Hoelzel (2001). "Characterization
of major histocompatibility complex DRB diversity in the endemic South
African antelope Damaliscus pygargus: a comparison in two subspecies
with different demographic histories". Molecular Ecology. Blackwell
Science. 10 (7): 1679–1688. doi:10.1046/j.0962-1083.2001.01321.x.
^ Pama, C. (1965) Lions and Virgins.
Cape Town Gazette 418 (15 January 1814).
^ a b
Western Cape Archives : Heraldic Information (CAD 1/2/16).
Western Cape Archives :
Swellendam Divisional Council Minutes
(15 November 1974).
^ http://www.national.archsrch.gov.za[permanent dead link]
Swellendam on Xplorio
Media related to
Swellendam at Wikimedia Commons
Swellendam travel guide from Wikivoyage
History of Swellendam
Municipalities and communities of Overberg District Municipality,
District seat: Bredasdorp
Van Dyks Bay
Boer Republics and Griqua States in
Southern Africa 1795–1902
Philippolis / Adam Kok's Land
South African Republic
Orange Free State
Small Free State
United States of Stellaland
Upingtonia / Lijdensrust