Stone Cottages History

The Stone Cottages, located at 1 Geneva Drive, is a uniquely characteristic landmark of Camps Bay. The seven cottages (the original four are sandstone cottages and the other three are gable cottages) were built by the Mills Syndicate, the company which ran the trams from the centre of Cape Town over Kloof Nek road down Camps Bay Drive and back via Sea Point between 1900 and 1930. The cottages are estimated to have been built in 1903. The drivers of the trams used to live in these cottages and what is now the Theatre on the Bay, built at the same time as the power station for the trams.

Camps Bay was originally marketed as a resort destination. There were few houses at the time but there were people who camped in the area. The tramline was the result of the astute town planning by the Mills Syndicate, property developers, who realised that if accessibility could be improved, Camps Bay would become a very popular suburb. The Mills Syndicate planned to build a tramline to provide convenient and quick access from Camps Bay to the city. The first tram (one of 17 cars) went through Camps Bay from Cape Town in 1901. At St. Johns’ Road in Sea Point the trams branched off for Kloof Road en-route to Camps Bay. The tram became a popular and cheap excursion before the days of motor cars. A year later in 1902, the second line that came from Camps Bay over Kloof Nek, was opened, which was a great engineering achievement. The both lines closed in 1938.

Although Camps By was originally planned as a residential suburb, during the early 1900s it was seen primarily as a Seaside Resort. In the Cape Times of 11 December 1911, it was described as “beautiful in situation, convenient for business and pleasure and ideal for a Seaside Holiday. This new suburb is being developed along modern lines and is equipped with all the latest ideas for a marine township. Everything is being done to attract visitors and to make their stay enjoyable and beautiful. Nowhere in the Peninsula will the holiday maker find a more healthy, convenient and attractive Seaside Resort than at Camps Bay.”

The cottages still have a huge historical and sentimental value in the context of the village of Camps Bay from its earliest days. The age of the cottages makes them unique and they are protected from a heritage perspective. During our renovations of the cottages, we have taken the heritage value of the cottages into consideration and tried to keep the cottages as true to their historical character as possible. Nonetheless, renovations had to be made where the bathrooms and kitchens were concerned, and we modelled the backyard as a peaceful oasis amid the bustling Camps Bay.