Our history

Begun in bondage; destined for freedom


The slaves are set free. Many of the freed slaves move from the nearby wine
farms to Wynberg to seek work. 
The only school in Wynberg was the Government Free School (the fore-runner of Wynberg Boys’). It focussed only on Reading, Writing & Arithmetic (the 3Rs) and was pretty much dysfunctional. It was not well-supported by the community.


Lady Anna D’Urban established the School of Industry for girls of the poorer community (freed slaves, coloured and white children) of Wynberg to teach them the 3Rs as well as vocational skills (sewing, needlework, cooking and cleaning) to prepare the girls for domestic service. The school opened in Glebe Cottage, the same building where the Free School was. The first teacher was Miss Boltman, who was also the Postmistress. The school taught and was run along the Lancasterian method. Lady D’Urban and a team of ladies from the St John’s Anglican Church managed it.

1842 - 1844

1842    Mrs Sarah Boyes was the next teacher. 

1843    Lady D’Urban died, and the community collected money to build a proper building for the school she had started. The government provided land in Aliwal Rd for this purpose. A thatched, T-shaped schoolroom was built.

1844    Miss Harvet replaced Mrs Boyes. She started an evening class for African girls working in the area.


1845 - 1855

1845   The girls moved into their new building. The school was still multi-racial and for girls only. The teacher’s salary was paid from the Bible & School Commission. The Anglican Church raised the money for everything else.

1855    Miss Byrne (later Mrs Parson) was the next teacher at the school. There were about 55 pupils. School fees in the form of 1d a week was charged for the first time.

1857 - 1860

1857    The school received a government grant for the first time. In exchange, the school had to follow the state Curriculum and open itself to regular inspections. The school was classified as an ‘Aided Mission School’. The girls wrote on slates with slate pencils. 

1859    An Assistant Teacher, Miss Shannon, was appointed. 

1860s  By now other subjects had been introduced: Grammar,

Spelling, Dictation, History & Geography.

1867 - 1889

1867    Miss Jeannie Wilson was appointed in place of Mrs Parson. She was one of the school’s best loved and longest-serving teachers. She trained some of her most able pupils, like Harriet Hanavey, as Pupil Teachers. 

1880s  Coloured girls were being refused entry.

1884    Music was introduced.

1889    Mrs EA Morgan was appointed in place of Miss Wilson.
Boys were admitted for the first time.

1891 - 1898

1891    Miss Lily Muter replaced Mrs Morgan. Miss Susan Weichardt was the Assistant Teacher.

1895    Mrs Mabel Garcia became the teacher. She is the only teacher of the School of Industry of whom a photograph exists.

1898    The school was taken over by the state and became a co-educational government school, classified as a ‘Third Class Public School’. ‘Third Class’ meant the school could only provide elementary education, and the girls older that Std 6 had to leave. This also brought to an end the school’s relationship with St John’s Church.


1901 - 1905

1901    Some of the girls in Std 6 were doing Domestic Science and did this at Wynberg Girls’ High.

1902    Miss Norah Johnson became the Assistant Teacher.

1904    Mrs Garcia left. In 1906 she became the first Principal of Oakhurst Girls’ Primary School. Miss Johnson succeeded her as the teacher at the School of Industry. Miss Smuts was the Assistant Teacher, later replaced by Miss Emma Seabrook.

1905    The School of Industry came under the Cape School Board. There were 112 children, mostly girls.

1906 - 1921

1906    The school’s name changed to Aliwal Road Primary School.

1911    Plans were drawn up by the architect firm Parker & Forsyth to enlarge the school.

1912    The school was changed from a T-shaped building to an H-shaped building by the addition of two classrooms. The thatched roof was replaced by corrugated iron. There were separate entrances for Boys and Girls. At each entrance was a lobby with three washbasins.

1921    Mrs C Dysart-Schloss was appointed Principal. Mrs Scanlan was the Assistant Teacher.


1935 - 1939

1935    A Principal’s office and a small Staffroom was created in the old section of the building. A Storeroom was added to the north end, and the girls’ entrance was closed.

1936    Miss Marguerite Dreyer became the Principal. She left the following year to become the Principal of Observatory Girls’ High School.

1937    Mr HW Smith became the school’s first male Principal. He left to become the Principal at The Grove Primary.

1939    Mr G Du Toit Haupt from Bishops became the Principal. He saw the school through the difficult war years, and was a father-figure when so many fathers were away. The number of pupils rose to 220. Aliwal Road Primary became a school known for its ability to succeed with even difficult pupils, due to Mr Hauft’s approach of love. The grounds were levelled and gravelled.

1943 - 1971

1943    School uniform was introduced at Aliwal Road Primary.

1956    The adjacent property of Headingly was bought. The house was demolished, but the garage was retained.

1957    2 Kindergarten classrooms (the present Administrative Block), an art room and new bathrooms were built here.

1960    The adjacent property of Headingly was bought and Demolished to make way for tennis courts and a Hall.

1971    Mr Kevin Paris succeeded Mr Hauft when he retired.

1972 - 1982

1972    The Hall was completed.

1974    The school won the Provincial Judo Shield.

1970s  The brothers Michael and Tullie McCulley, who founded the popular band McCulley’s Workshop, were at Aliwal Road.

1980    Popular teacher, Mr JP Naudé retired. He had been at the school since 1946.

1982    The School Song was composed.

1986 - 1989

1986    Aliwal Road Primary celebrated its 150th Anniversary. However, the numbers were dwindling alarmingly.

1988    Aliwal Road Primary closed its doors in December.

1989    In January, the Education Museum took over the building, with Dr Dan Sleigh the Head. Also on the staff were Miss Avril van der Wolk and Mr Braam van Zyl. When Mr Van Zyl left, Mr Mark van Rensburg joined. The old School of Industry building became the main display area. The first school group received was the Simon van der Stel Laerskool. In those days there was only one lesson – a general tour of the Museum!


1994 - 2014

1994    The School of Industry building received National Monument status – today: Provincial Heritage Site.

1995    The name changed to Centre for Conservation Education to reflect the change in education programme.

1996    Dr Sleigh retired and Ms Sigi Howes took over as Head. The Centre has adapted its lessons with every curriculum change and is today a popular choice for schools to go to on an educational outing. About 11 000 learners and their teachers visit every year.

2014    The number of children taught at the Centre reached 250 000 – a quarter of a million!

In 2018 The Centre was awarded a Blue Heritage Plaque.


Permanent full-time Teachers over the years have included Dr Dan Sleigh, Mr Braham van Zyl, Miss Tina Damstra, Mr Mark van Rensburg, Miss Liesl Rabe, Mrs Myrtle Edwards and Mrs Nicci Hoal. The current staff is Mr Anton Fortuin, Mr Mark van Rensburg, Ms Monalisa Mabandla, Ms Souad Abrahams and
Ms Zanne-Mari Els
Contact Us).

Our General Assistants and Administrative Staff have included Miss Lynne Knoll (current), Ms Nazli Brown, Miss Yvette Hyatt; Mr Charles Adonis, Mr Roy Davids, Miss Devida Adonis (current) and Mr Clive Adonis (current).

Aliwal Road Primary School has a Facebook page


(021)762 1622

9 Aliwal Rd, Wynberg, 7800

© 2024 Centre for Conservation Education