Aliwal Road Primary School

Posted by on Dec 27, 2014 in Blog | 10 comments

Aliwal Road Primary School

I cried on my first day of school. My Sub A teacher at Aliwal Road Primary School (ARPS), Mrs Blomerus took me by the hand and led me to the Sub A classroom where she sat me down, gave me a little wooden board and big dollop of green clay and in her kindly voice soothed away my sadness and helped me to make a little clay figure. She was amazing. The years that followed were the happiest of times.

I have the fondest memories of Mr Haupt the headmaster, or ‘Hooftie’, as we called him and of Mrs Blomerus who were firm but kindly in their manner. The vice-principal, Mr Naude was a bit intimidating and no-one intentionally got on the wrong side of him and although corporal punishment was not used at ARPS, Mr Naude had his own way of dealing with naughty pupils. He had the “Look”! I shudder to think of what would happen to some of the kids today if they ever had to experience the ‘look’ from Mr Naude. He could wither a child on the spot with one of his stares and, especially the boys, would feel the effect of one of his controlled but scathing tongue lashings if they stepped out of line. He did not brook any bad manners or bad form when it came to the classroom or playground.

Hooftie on the other hand was like a kindly grandfather. If you were ever summoned to his office for a misdemeanour you felt so bad about it for disappointing him that you made sure you never did it again. He would talk softly and make you understand why you should not do things like that. We all loved him. Assembly was held every morning when Hooftie would read from a children’s Bible and we would sing things like “Jesus loves me this I know” and “All things Bright and Beautiful”. Then Mr Haupt would give us a little talk. He retired in 1970 after many many years as principal of the school. On his last day the school presented him with a cheque for R400.00 which he was going to use to spend time caravaning around the country. Sounds such a little now but back then it was a small fortune.

Proud History

The school itself was founded as a School of Industry for Girls in 1836 by Lady D’Urban, wife of the Governor of the Cape. In 1909 it became co-ed and changed its name to Aliwal Road Primary School and continued as such until 1988 when it was forced to close due to dwindling numbers. I remember hearing of its closure with great sadness.

Because of its great historical value, the building has been preserved and it is now an education museum as well as a Centre for Conservation Education currently under the curatorship of Ms Sigi Howes. Part of the museum’s function is to collect as much archival material as possible on schools all over the country. They have for instance the most amazing collection of school brass bells and very old classroom desks and equipment. Some schools are very well represented and have box files full of photographs and even items of uniform dating back years and years. The first time I visited the museum I eagerly looked for the box file on Aliwal Road school and to my great disappointment found only a handful of items in the box. For one of the oldest schools in the country it saddens me that all that history is ‘missing’. I immediately went home and looked through all my photos and old report cards and made copies which I gave to Sigi the next time I was there. I even have my old Prefect’s badge and house badge (blue for D’Urban – the other house was Van Riebeeck which was yellow…more orange really) which I am a bit loathe to give up just yet.

Please please….if there is any body who went to ARPS please contact me. I will co-ordinate any material and hand it over to Sigi who I am sure will be thrilled. She is planning to write a comprehensive history of the school and is busy collecting information. Without your input a valuable part of Cape history could be lost forever.


  1. Hi There, my brother and I both went to ARPS. We were the Butler brothers of 1956 and 1959. George and Danny Butler. It sounds like you were roughly of the same era. My sisser Veronica Jorinde in 1963, I think.

  2. Thanks for the blog of that history. I was at ARPS during 1963-1969. I too remember Mrs Blomerus in Sub A. And recall much of what you covered. Follow-up contact is welcomed. Now live in USA.

  3. I went to that School as well and my Teacher was Mrs Blomerus.
    Wow what a trip down memory lane , Mr Haupt who always smelt like “Old Spice after shave”
    I remember quite a few names including the gentleman who left a comment before me!
    I think we were in Sub A together.

  4. What a delight to read this! I was at the school from 1969 – 1972. The principal’s motto was “Spare the rod and love the child”. I remember he left and was replaced by another principle. We sang Jamaica farewell when he left, and i dont think there was a dry eye in the school hall. I think Mr Paris was the person who replaced him? Mrs Blumeris was my teacher too, and was wonderful. However sub B was Ms Witte, who was somewhat stern and terrifying to me as a young girl.

    • Gustav du Toit Haupt was my grandfather. I was at his final assembly in 1970, at the age of 5 and I very clearly remember the adapted version of Jamaica Farewell being sung: “Down Aliwal Way, where the lights are gay, Mr Haupt drives down in his Chevrolet…”. It was one of his favourite songs to play to us on his guitar. Happy memories!

      • Happy memories indeed. I remember that too and it was also my final assembly at ARPS as I ‘graduated’ on to Wynberg Girls’ High. He was a fine man and there must be many of us who remember him with great fondness. Thanks for sharing Mandy and Mallorie.

  5. Recall everything you wrote Sharon.We truly had great times and I also remember your brother Geoff. My late brother Chummy and I with my other brother David and sister Lindy all went to ARPS.I remember Denise Gillespie as well.

  6. I remember attending ARPS only for a few weeks in November/December 1973. I was in standard 3. I had just arrived in Cape Town from Britain and it was a bit of a culture shock for me. We learnt cursive writing with a fountain pen which I found challenging. I don’t remember much, but I do remember the D’Urban and van Riebeeck house names. I went on to Wynberg Boys’ Junior and High schools, and ended up at Milnerton High School.

  7. I was at ARPS from 63 to 68. Both my brother and I attended school there.

  8. I went to A R S in the fifties. Mr Naude was my history teacher and instilled in me the love of that subject because of the way he told the stories, making it all so real. He would sit on a pupils desk while talking and if anyone wasn’t listening would throw a blackboard duster on their desk. Mr Haupt was such a special, caring person and was our class teacher in std 5. From there I went to Wynberg Girls High which was rather a shock to the system !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *