Established in 1743, Imhoff Farm has a country farm atmosphere, providing an excellent one-stop venue for visitors to the Cape Point Route.
The early history
In 1741, the Directors of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) finally decided to admit defeat to Mother Nature. To save their ships from the constant barrage of her deadly winter storms, they put a halt to the anchorage at Table Bay.
However, the new, safer destination at Simon’s Bay was a less than perfect alternative. The return trek on foot to Cape Town to source vital supplies for the fleet would take a full four days.
To overcome this challenge, the Governor General of the Dutch East Indian Company, Baron Gustav Wilhelm van Imhoff, ordered the construction of the Simon’s Bay refreshment station in 1743. Among its mandates was the cultivation of lands in the Fish Hoek and Noordhoek valleys.
Baron van Imhoff soon realised that he was not alone in his quest to alleviate the problems of supplying fresh produce. The widow Christina Rousseau (nee Diemer) also supplied the ships from her farm Zwaansweide (now Constantia Uitsig).
The Baron was so impressed by her efforts that he awarded her a gift of land near Slangkop ridge. This area – which also encompassed the land now claimed by Kommetjie and Ocean View – became known as “Imhoff’s Gift”.
The Van der Horst Era
In 1912 the farm was bought by Johannes Gerhardus Pieter van der Horst, who transformed the property into one of the original show farms of the Cape.
The four decades that followed were relatively uneventful by all accounts. That was until a fateful day in 1958 when a raging fire swept across the valley and all but destroyed the farm.
The original homestead on the farm was gutted and the two historic wooden figure-heads – salvaged from shipwrecks and given pride of place at the front entrance – were sadly also destroyed.
Less than 10 years later, in 1967, another portion of the farm was expropriated by the then apartheid government. Under the Group Areas Act this land became the township of Ocean View. This was to be the new home of so-called ‘Coloured’ people forcibly removed from the surrounding ‘white’ areas of Simon’s Town, Glencairn and Noordhoek.
In 2003, the land between the ‘vleis’ (marshes) and the sea was transferred to the Table Mountain National Park – creating a protected corridor for indigenous fauna and flora.
Today, the dairy and livestock farming of yesteryear is no longer viable on this once remote stretch of land. Now on a busy tourist route, the farmstead has evolved into Imhoff Farm, a commercial hub with old-world charm.
Present owners (since 1912) the Van der Horst family are committed to maintaining the country farm atmosphere, providing an excellent one-stop venue for visitors to the Cape Point Route.
Baron Gustav Wilhelm van Imhoff awards Christina Rousseau (nee Diemer) a gift of land near Slangkop Ridge. The area later became known as 'Imhoff's Gift'.
Proclamation of the town Kommetjie in 1902
Mr Heinrich Pieter Hablutzel, the then owner of Imhoff's Gift, sells a portion of the original farm to Anton J. Benning. A well-known building contractor at the time, Benning was regarded as the 'father' of Kommetjie.
The Van der Horst family era
Attorney and businessman, Johannes Gerhardus Pieter van der Horst buys Imhoff's Gift and so the Van der Horst family era starts. During the family's tenure Imhoff's Gift gave birth to Kommetjie in 1903 and to Ocean View in 1965. Van der Horst Street in Kommetjie was named after J.G. van der Horst.
Imhoff's Farm still boasts this iconic view of Wildevoelvlei and Chapman's Peak.
In 1958 a runaway veld fire swept through the valley and destroyed most of the original homestead. A few of the farm buildings remained unscathed, but the farm house was uninhabitable and had to be rebuilt.
Lost in the fire
Imhoff Farm was famous for the two ship's figure-heads which kept vigil on two piers on either side of its steps. Sadly both where lost in the fire of 1958. The origin of one is known; it came from the Royal Albert, a ship which was broken up in Simon's Town harbour. It is said that it was a likeness of the Prince Consort. The other could be the likeness of Dutch Admiral Tromp which was picked up as jetsam on Noordhoek beach.
1960's - 70's
The end of argriculture
By the 1960's farming on Imhoff Farm had ceased and by 1977, portions of the farm have been given over to the development of Ocean View.
A tea garden revival
In the summer of 1993, Denise van der Horst started a tea garden in the courtyard of the farm. Operating from a small kitchen in the silo, 'Under The Pines' became a popular destination for locals and visitors wanting to enjoy the calm, country atmosphere of the farm. It heralded a new era and attracted artists, small businesses and entrepreneurs as tenants. So began the 30-year long revival of Imhoff Farm.
The first known vineyards for wine production are planted as part of the rejuvenation of Imhoff Farm. This heralds a new era of prosperity and growth which should see Imhoff Farm claim its place as the commercial and economic hub of Kommetjie.
A renaissance needs a tower
Following the Covid-19 lockdown in South Africa, Imhoff Farm reopens with a refreshed tenant offering and new attractions. Additions to the 277 year old farm includes a goat tower at the entrance to the farm, a new kiddies farmyard, upgraded guest facilities and parking. Construction of a new stable block and office pavilion are set for completion by the end of summer.