WYNBERG BOYS' HIGH
We profile Wynberg Boys' High, one of South Africa's oldest schools.
Wynberg, pronounced wine in English but spelt wyn in the Afrikaans or, historically more correctly, Dutch manner as wijn, is an historic part of the history of European settlement in South Africa. The Dutch grew vines and made wine in and around the hill that gave the area its name. A farm there was first allotted to Jan van Riebeeck in 1658, which he called Boscheuwel. In 1658 Hermann Weeckens established his farm and called it De Oude Wijnberg. Governor Simon van der Stel built a mansion in the area and his farm produced famous wines.
The British conquered the Cape in 1795. They won the Battle of Muizenberg. The Dutch retreated - the area is still called Retreat - and made a little stand at Wynberg but lost the Battle of Wynberg. The British then established a military camp at Wynberg to guard the area between False Bay and Table Bay.
Then the Cape became British and Wynberg, away from the flat land, partly posh. The lovely old homes near the Wynberg Camp are delightful remnants of the age as Cape Town spread down the Peninsula.
Gradually a village grew which became a municipality with its own town hall. When the school adopted its badge in 1923 it took it from the Wynberg Municipality badge - the three rings (annulets in heraldry) from Jan van Riebeeck’s coat of arms, the anchor for the Cape of Good Hope, an army tent and a vine.
The railway line got to Wynberg in 1861, making travel to and from the city much easier. Before that Wynberg was a remote place, required to provide for itself.
Part of that provision was the founding of a school, second oldest after SACS which was then in the city.
The Wynberg Free School was founded in 1822 and lasted till 1839 when it closed down. It reopened in 1 June 1841, which is accepted as the founding date of Wynberg Boys' High, though until 1853 the school, called the Wynberg Established School then the Wynberg Interdenominational School and then Wynberg Boys' High, was coeducational. That year it became Wynberg High School, incorporating the word Boys in 1922.
The school has had four homes - Glebe Cottage which is near the Military Camp. Then, in 1845, the school in Aliwal Road, then, in 1892, across Aliwal Road to where the Junior School now stands in a building designed by Sir Herbert Baker and then, in 1980, it moved to its present spacious site on Wynberg Hill.
Rugby at Wynberg
Wynberg has been playing rugby for over a century. When the Western Province Schools Rugby Union was established in 1905 the first chairman was Mr Hoogenhout of Wynberg staff. Hoogenhout, an old Matie, revived rugby which had been superseded by soccer. Initially Wynberg struggled against SACS and Bishops but eventually became one of the most respected rugby schools in South Africa, putting over 20 teams in the field each Saturday.
After Hoogenhout, PdeV Wahl really put Wynberg's rugby on the map. After World War II and for many years Eric Tasker was a power in Wynberg's rugby, succeeded by Ray Connellan.
When the great 1961-62 Springboks toured the UK, Ireland and France, four of them were Wynberg Old Boys - Doug Hopwood, Dave Stewart, Lionel Wilson and Doug Holton. The most recent fully-fledged old boy Springbok is the great Rob Louw, who was in the same class and team as Allan Lamb, the England cricketer who was a fine centre, and John Martin, the yachtsman.
The first old boy to play for South Africa was the tough forward of the 1890s, Toskie Smith. There were some internationals whom Wynberg shared with other schools - Syd Ashley, Ossie Newton Thompson, who played for England, and Robbie Fleck (Bishops), Frank Mellish (Rondebosch and SACS), Bennie and Stanley Osler (Kingswood), Frankie Waring (SACS), Jock van Niekerk (Rondebosch) and Peter Cronje (Parktown).
Max Honnett managed the Springboks of 1912-13 and Alec Solomon was, like Dave Stewart, a national selector.
Above all SACS, who are the only school in South Africa older than they are, Bishops, who are eight years younger, and Rondebosch. Each year Wynberg have a big meeting with Grey of Port Elizabeth which goes beyond just rugby.
Name: Wynberg Boys' High
Foundation date: 1841
Motto: Supera Moras (To overcome difficulties) (It has been the motto since 1922)
Colours: Navy blue and white (from 1893)
Pupils: 850 including roughly 105 boarders