Lost Village of Red Hill

Lost Village of Red Hill


Taking the ascent from just outside Simon’s Town, to climb the winding Red Hill Pass that links Simon’s Town to Scarborough, one has to stop and take in the
breathtaking view of False Bay and Simon’s Town with its Navy HQ in the harbour and our Jackass penguin colony below.

Use you mouse to Rotate the 360 image above


Red Hill Pass qualifies as one of the climbs on the Peninsula Marathon and is known to be one of the most beautiful routes in the Western Cape.
Red Hill Marathon is an official qualifier for
the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon and Comrades.

Through undulating hills and a peaceful scenic drive, the road meanders through the mountain.  As one continues up the pass, the vegetation changes from urban to rural, forestry of pine to fynbos, proteas and pincushions, where rocks become boulders.

RedHill view through window

On top of the pass, we arrive at Pinehaven, turn right and as you drive up the road,
you will across the abandoned stone ruins of Redhill scattered across both sides of a dual carraige way.
Camouflaged against the backdrop of boulders and fynbos, it remains to be a part of history in the lives of a close-knit predominantly coloured community that cling to the ground they once loved, the place they once called home.


Walk with us and picture a time that dates back to the nineteenth century, where there were an increasing number of rural districts being established as settlements in the rural countryside. There lies, in what was a small residential area of less than 1km by 1km, a graveyard of weathered tombstones that date to the 1800’s.  Nestled between mountains where fruit tree orchards and vegetable gardens thrived. There was the home,
the place for eating, sleeping and bringing up children.

There was no running water and no electricity, just candles and/or oilburners. The children fetched water daily, a chore done together, treading pathways through thickforest and shrubbery, with buckets attached to a stick, the task was done, whether it took an hour or few, expect fun was had no doubt.  While young men and women were planning their future, the men worked in the naval dockyard or for the municipality, yet some women worked in factories and some stayed at home looking after their families.

Red Hill toilets

Streets of modest houses for its time, of plastered red brick and concrete floors, their appearance was possibly neat and clean..
In an era when big furniture, considered antiques today were possibly consisting of two or three broken chairs, an old table or two, and a chest of drawers and two matching chairs with arms, made of stinkwood, cushioned or upholstered with chintz…chintz covered windows, table tops and bedcovers.
Bedrooms with beds, dressing tables and wardrobes separating male and female, wash hand stands with basin and jug.  A few simple cooking and other necessary utensils such as crockery ware, cutlery, tea and coffee pots.  The outbuildings were a barn (buitenvenrek) with limestone block walls,
a wagon shed, a stable and a kitchen with an urn and kettle, an outdoor oven to bake bread.


In dense forest and sand tracks, livestock grazed freely to roam,
and never a shortage of milk and meat,
and with an abundance of firewood to keep the coals hot, day and night ,
there was no need to travel outside of the area for daily needs.

Today there is fynbos and boulders, vast open land and sky as far as the eye can see. Long trails lead to two reservoirs, a popular hike through and around the beautiful and scenic Kleinplaas and the Lewis Gay Dams.

Red Hill Pass through Village
Red Hill Village

What was once vibrant streets paved with houses, a packed church filled with cheer and a graveyard now respectfully all forlorn and forsaken.
Today cherished memories live on in shared stories and a kaleidoscope of photo’s.
Note that the photo’s shared are all ours, Hart Shot Photography, Andre and Tanya Hart from Table Mountain Live Stream.

Red Hill View of Table Mountain
Red Hill Ruins House and Kitchen

Simon’s Town was declared a White Group Area on 1 September 1967. Following this, from 1968-1973 the residents were forcibly removed from the area to outlying areas of Heathfield and Retreat, while others to Slangkop, now known as Ocean View.
Families were issued with a notice and given about a week to vacate their homes with no right of appeal.
The Group Areas Act profoundly affected the lives of many across South Africa. In the Western Cape alone, by the end of the 1970’s it is estimated that 150 000 people were relocated.

The Act was eventually repealed by the Abolition of Racially-Based Land Measures Act, 1991.
The majority of Redhill is now owned by SANParks.
For further information, contact Margaret Constant from GroundUp through the ruins for Redhill, a former Red Hill resident, can be found at
Simon’s Town museum.
Project Phoenix started in 1996 with the aim at
preserving the heritage of the town.

Red Hill Ruin House
Red Hill Village Ruins

Please note that Red Hill is known to be a high crime area so please do not go alone, be alert and we recommend taking a guide who knows Cape Town well.

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9 thoughts on “Lost Village of Red Hill”

    1. Redan-Lee Williams

      Hi Andre, I am one of the descendants of the families that lived in Redhill. The family name is Levendal.

      My grandmother used to tell me stories of when she was a little girl in Redhill and how they walked from the main town of Simon’s Town up and down by foot or horse-drawn wagon.

      The pictures you have captured are beautiful and remind me of the stories I once was told.

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