Claremont is a residential suburb in the municipality of Cape Town, within the magisterial district of Wynberg. It lies 9.6 km south of Cape Town between Newlands and Kenilworth. The village started forming in the 1830s on the Main Road around what was essentially a farming area. The community flourished, and with the opening of the railway line from Cape Town to Wynberg in 1864, Claremont developed even further.
Arderne Gardens, now a public park of 4 hectares, was originally planted by R. H. Arderne in 1845 as part of his estate, The Hill. He, and later his son, H. M. Arderne developed a fine collection of exotic trees, often with the help of the director of Kew Gardens in London. British astronomer, Sir John Herschel, who resided at the Cape from 1834 to 1838, lived and made astronomical observations at Feldhausen in Claremont. After four years of concentrated effort he completed his survey and returned to England. Herschel’s contribution to photography is significant – after his stay in South Africa, he revealed to the Royal Society his method of taking photographic pictures on paper sensitized with carbonate of silver and fixed with hyposulphite of soda. It is believed that his experiments advanced the development of photography considerably.
Did you know that there is a Herschel Monument situated today in Claremont at Grove Primary School? This obelisk which is now a historic monument, marks the site where from 1834 to 1838, stood John Herschel’s 6-metre reflecting telescope.
The Black River, which is a tributary of the Liesbeeck River, rises near Claremont and flows through the Wynberg and Cape Magisterial Districts. It was originally called Kromboom, an Afrikaans word meaning ‘crooked tree’, and is the name applied today to a small tributary of the Black River. It formed the boundary of the settlement during the time of Jan Van Riebeeck.
Claremont became a municipality in 1886, but was incorporated in the municipality of Cape Town in 1913.