The school was started in the church hall in Argyle Road, and part of the oral history is that the Anglican church leaders felt it a pity that the building should stand empty all week, only to be used on a Sunday for one service, when there was a need for a school in the area.
Mrs Edith M. Adcock was appointed the first principal and teacher, and in 1906 a total of 7 pupils were enrolled – one boy in Std 4 (Gr 6), one boy and one girl in Sub B (Gr 2) and two boys and two girls in Sub A (Gr 1).
By 1912 there were 42 children enrolled, and a new school building, the beautiful old Table Mountain sandstone building, was erected in The Drive. Miss A. Joplin had been appointed as principal the previous year. This charming old building is now the Camps Bay Preparatory School. Miss Joplin lead the school for 17 years and retired in December of 1928.
Few records exist for the years between 1912 and 1953 but what we do know from the minutes kept of school governing body meetings is that Mr V Hickman was principal from January 1929 until March 1933, Mr A.M. Ramage was appointed into the post from April 1933 to September 1945, and Mr R.M. Breetzke lead the school from October 1945 until December 1949. Mr B.M. Gush was appointed principal from January 1950. In 1953 the school – which had nearly 300 pupils and had been a primary school till then – was granted secondary status and an additional building, into which the Primary School could move, was erected in Dunkeld Rd. Through the tireless efforts of the headmaster, Mr Gush, and the staff, the school was given high school status in January 1955. The primary section of the school then spanned from Sub A – Std 5 (Gr 1 – 7) and the principal was Mr J. Botha. The newly formed high school section was housed in the school in The Drive, and Mr Gush remained as principal of this section. This arrangement was only temporary, as the old building had already been earmarked for use as a kindergarten. Mr Gush stated in the yearbook of 1955: “We must rise up and build, but where?”
By 1960, the need for a new building became even more pressing and Mr Gush announced that a new site had been identified and that building operations would begin early in 1961. He became seriously ill during this time, and retired in June 1961.
The newly appointed headmaster, Mr Leeuwenberg, only stayed for one term before accepting a post as principal of Cape Town High School.
At the start of the 4th term of 1961, Mr E.M Berman was appointed headmaster. At this stage, the High School enrolment was 131. Mr Berman was an esteemed author of two Latin text books for secondary and high school level.
Building operations did not start in 1961 as was originally intended, but in 1967, after many hours of negotiations. In the same year, a new principal was appointed to the Primary School. Mr Geoff Currie took over the reins from Mr McEwan, who had been principal of the school since 1961. Eventually, on 7 October 1969, Camps Bay High School, in the words of Mr Berman, “made the transition from an old, cramped, inadequate building to a capacious, imposing and magnificent edifice.”
This wonderful new building was built on a piece of land steeped in history. It was part of the land ceded to the British when they took over the Cape, as well as the land on which French fortifications had been built at the end of the eighteenth century.
This same land – in 1829, still the property of the British Crown – was transferred to the Ordinance Department, Cape of Good Hope and later, in 1915, King George V presented it to the City of Cape Town. The grant stated that the land had to be used for the benefit of all the inhabitants. By the time of the official opening of the new building by the Cape Administrator Dr J. N. Malan in March 1970, Camps Bay High boasted a student population of 305. Subjects offered then were divided into four categories: academic, commercial, technical and domestic. Subjects offered at Camps Bay in 1969, but that are no longer available at our school today were: woodwork, typing and Latin. Accounting was still referred to as Bookkeeping and Biology was only introduced as a subject in 1970.
In 1973 a number of changes awaited Camps Bay Schools once again:
In June, Mr Berman retired after 38 years in the teaching profession, of which 12 years were as principal of Camps Bay High School. Mr V. N. Field, the deputy principal, led the school in an acting capacity until the end of the year.
Mr B. K. Shepherd was appointed principal of the High School, with effect from January 1974.
The Education Department gave the go-ahead for the Primary School to be divided into two sections: the kindergarten section (Sub A and Sub B) and the primary school section (Std 1 to Std 5). The two sections were to be run independently
In October 1973 Miss Girlie Kirsten was appointed as principal of the Camps Bay Preparatory School and the decision was made to relocate the preparatory section to the magnificent old stone building in The Drive. Miss Kirsten, together with two newly appointed teachers, tackled the school grounds, which had become all but derelict since being abandoned by the High School in 1969.
On 16 January 1974 the old historic stone building again opened its doors as a community school.
Mr A. F. Keen, great-grandfather of one of our Grade 1 pupils this year said in his memoirs of Camps Bay in the 1920’s that he remembered that there was only one school, just opposite the library, ranging from kindergarten to Standard 5. In this regard we are delighted to state that there are now three schools – all surrounded by Lion’s Head, the magnificent Twelve Apostles mountain range and the mighty Atlantic Ocean – occupying one single campus spread across Camps Bay.
In 1974 a number of changes were made to the High School uniform, the greatest of these being the abolition of the hat as part of the uniform for both the boys and girls. This decision was embraced by the Primary School as well even though the Primary School uniform underwent no other changes.
The Preparatory School continued its very close cooperation with the Primary School from the start, and always used the same uniform. All three schools used the same crest, but only Camps Bay High School continued with the motto: “Altissimis Nitor” (strive for the highest) below their badge. This motto in a scroll seemed to have been used for the first time in an official manner on the 1962 Camps Bay Schools’ magazine.
Six months after the official opening of the Preparatory School, a Pre-Primary class (now called Grade R or Reception Grade) was started. By 1976, the Preparatory School had six classes. The pre-primary classes were limited to 25 children and the Sub A and B classes each had approximately 36 children in a class. Miss M. Kirsten was principal from 1974 to June 1979. During the time of her leadership of the Preparatory School, Miss Kirsten appointed two teachers who are still involved at the school today.
On 1 January 1977, Miss N. Duminy, now Mrs. N. Roussopoulos, was appointed as a first year Sub B teacher and in 1978 Miss R. Brunold, now Mrs R. Peinke, was appointed as pre-primary teacher. In 1979 Miss Kirsten retired and Miss V Fowler was appointed as principal from 1 July 1979.
During this time Mr Shepherd retired as principal of the High School and Mr J.C.R. Ince became principal half way through 1977. The same year saw the arrival of a new history teacher who is still today dedicated to the task of educating our Camps Bay pupils, Mr E. Tucker.
By 1979 the pupil enrolment of the High School had reached 600.
In 1980 Mr Ince appointed two teachers into the music department, Mr D. Kruger and Mr K. Roussopoulos. Both these teachers are also still teaching at the High School today.
In 1979, the principal of the Primary School, Mr. Geoff Currie had a five-a-side soccer arena built at Camps Bay Primary School. This was the first five-a-side soccer arena to be built at a South African school. In 1987 the Primary School’s sports facilities were extended with the addition of the Symmonds field, where four tennis courts were also built.
Mr Currie resigned as principal in 1987 and on 1 January 1988 Mr Bernie Segal, who had been a teacher at the Primary School before taking up the position as vice- principal at another school, was appointed in his place. After his return to Camps Bay Primary School Mr Segal continued with the tradition he had started when he was a teacher at the school by staging a personally written, composed and directed operetta every year using mainly the Std. 4 and 5 pupils. In total the Primary School staged 23 “Bernie Segal operettas” from 1988 till 2004. During the years of Mr Segal’s leadership, Mr. Wayne English was appointed as a first year teacher in 1992.
In 1989, on doctors’ advice after suffering a stroke, Mr John Ince retired after 12 years as headmaster of the High School. Dr D. Louw was appointed to the position and lead the school in a visionary manner through the many changes at the time happening in our country, and in education. In the same year Ms V Fowler retired as principal of the Preparatory School.
Mrs Ann Gibbon took over as headmistress in 1990. Under Mrs Gibbon’s leadership a hall was built, plans were drawn up for the new Pre-Reception classrooms and an essential aftercare service was established on the school premises.
Mrs Gibbon resigned at the end of 1998 and Mrs Chelle Blackshaw was appointed as principal. Dr Louw left the High School in 2001, and Mrs Blackshaw resigned due to family commitments in June 2002.
In January 2001, Mr W. English became principal of the Primary School. In April of the following year, Mr D. de Korte took over the reins of the High School and Mrs N. Roussopoulos became acting principal of the Preparatory School in June of 2002. She was officially appointed as principal from 1 January 2003 and retired in December 2013. Mrs L. Murray was appointed the acting principal in January 2014.
On the 1st of January 2015 the Primary and Preparatory Schools were merged by the WCED and is now known as Camps Bay Primary School. The Principal is Mr S. Collier and Mrs L. Murray heads the Prep Campus.
The past 100 years of excellence in education have been the product of many dynamic and visionary principals, dedicated and innovative teachers, incredibly hard-working support and office staff, enthusiastic and talented pupils as well as an actively involved and supportive parent body.
Here’s to the next 100 years of striving for the highest, while growing together as one! Quote from Camps Bay Schools magazine 7962 Mr E.M. Berman’s Headmaster’s message:
“To my pupils I should like to make a clarion call for service. Learn to serve your family, your school, your community, your country and mankind in general, and learn to serve unselfishly. Let your criterion be “What can I give?” rather than “What can I take?”