Somerset West

Coordinates: 34°05′S 18°51′E / 34.083°S 18.850°E / -34.083; 18.850
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Somerset West
From top: Aerial view of Somerset West with Helderberg Mountain; left: Vergelegen Estate; during the winter; Left: The Old Lourens River Bridge is a provincial heritage site; Right: Erinvale Estate.
Coat of arms of Somerset West
Prorsum Sursum (Latin: Straight Up)
Somerset West is located in Western Cape
Somerset West
Somerset West
Somerset West is located in South Africa
Somerset West
Somerset West
Somerset West is located in Africa
Somerset West
Somerset West
Coordinates: 34°05′S 18°51′E / 34.083°S 18.850°E / -34.083; 18.850
CountrySouth Africa
ProvinceWestern Cape
MunicipalityCity of Cape Town
 • CouncillorsBenedicta van Minnen (Ward 15); Stuart Bruce Pringle (Ward 84)
 • Total61.37 km2 (23.70 sq mi)
 • Total55,166
 • Density900/km2 (2,300/sq mi)
Racial makeup (2011)
 • Black African13.0%
 • Coloured24.5%
 • Indian/Asian0.9%
 • White60.1%
 • Other1.6%
First languages (2011)
 • Afrikaans52.3%
 • English37.5%
 • Xhosa4.8%
 • Other5.3%
Time zoneUTC+2 (SAST)
Postal code (street)
PO box
Area code+27 (0)21

Somerset West (Afrikaans: Somerset-Wes) is a town in the Western Cape, South Africa. Organisationally and administratively it is included in the City of Cape Town metropolitan municipality Eastern Suburbs zone (formerly called Helderberg Basin).[2] The vehicle registration code for Somerset West is CFM and the post code is 7130 for street addresses, and 7129 for post office boxes.


Main Road Somerset West in 1909.

A cattle post was established here[clarification needed] by Dutch soldiers in 1672.

A town developed around the Lourens River (originally "Tweederivier", which means "Second River"; "Eersterivier", meaning "First River" passes through Stellenbosch, some 16 km (9.9 mi) to the north) and the farm of Vergelegen (Dutch: "remotely situated"), an 18th-century farmhouse built in the historic Cape Dutch style by Willem Adriaan van der Stel, governor of the Cape and son of Simon van der Stel, who gave his name to the nearby town of Stellenbosch. Willem Adriaan was later sent back to Holland after being charged with corruption and cruelty towards local Dutch farmers. The farm is now owned by a subsidiary of the large mining company Anglo American, who have restored the farmhouse to its original magnificence and continue to produce some of South Africa's best wines there.[citation needed] The farm is open to tourists.

Somerset West was founded in 1822 on part of the historic farm, Vergelegen.[3] The town was named Somerset after a British governor of the Cape Colony during the 1800s, Lord Charles Somerset, with the suffix 'West' being added after 1825 to differentiate it from Somerset East, another South African town in the Eastern Cape. In the 1830s, Sir Lowry's Pass, named after later governor Sir Lowry Cole, was constructed to link the town with outposts further east over the Hottentots-Holland mountains.

In the 1960s, the AECI factory between Somerset West and Strand was the second largest dynamite factory in the world.[citation needed]


Somerset West is located on the N2 about 45 kilometres (30 mi) east of Cape Town and 20 kilometres (10 mi) kilometres south of Stellenbosch. The town borders Strand and Gordon's Bay and is overlooked by the Helderberg Mountain (meaning "clear mountain"), a part of the Hottentots-Holland range of mountains. The Hottentots-Holland mountains surround Somerset West in an amphitheatre shape.


Somerset West includes more than 65 suburbs covering a large area of 61.37 square kilometres within its administrative boundaries, extending from the satellite areas of Firgrove to the west and Sir Lowry's Pass Village to the east. It includes the following suburbs:[4]

  • Andas Estate
  • Bel' Aire
  • Bene
  • Bergaio
  • Boskloof Eco Estate
  • Braeview
  • Bridgebank
  • Bridgewater
  • Briza
  • Canwick
  • Carey Parks
  • Cherrywood Gardens
  • Chris Nissen Village
  • Croydon
  • Dennegeur
  • Die Wingerd
  • Dorhill
  • Erinvale Golf Estate
  • Fairview Heights
  • Firgrove (incl. Firgrove Rural)
  • Fraai Gelegen
  • Garden Village
  • Golden Acre
  • Golden Hill
  • Greenway Rise
  • Haumannshof
  • Helderberg
  • Helderberg Estate
  • Helderberg Rural
  • Helderberg Village
  • Helderrand
  • Heldervue
  • Helderzicht
  • Helena Heights
  • Heritage Mews
  • Heritage Park
  • Illaire
  • Jacques Hill
  • Jonkershoogte
  • Kalamunda
  • La Concorde
  • La Montagne
  • La Sandra
  • Land en Zeezicht
  • Lionviham
  • Longdown Estate
  • Lynn's View
  • Martinville
  • Montclair
  • Monte Sereno
  • Morningside
  • Natures Valley
  • Olive Grove
  • Paardevlei
  • Parel Vallei
  • Pearl Marina
  • Radloff Park
  • Rome Glen
  • Roundhay
  • Shady Glen
  • Sir Lowry's Pass Village
  • Somerset Ridge
  • Spanish Farm (incl. Spanish Farm Ext 1)
  • Steenbras View
  • Steyn's Nest
  • Stuart's Hill
  • The Vines
  • Victoria Park
  • Westridge
  • Zandberg


Owing to its regional status and central location, Somerset West has become the major retail hub for the Helderberg, Stellenbosch and the Overberg regions. Somerset Mall, situated alongside the N2 freeway serves as the largest shopping centre in the Helderberg region. A number of other local retail shopping centres can be found in the town's suburban areas such as Helderberg Mall, Somerset Value Centre, The Sanctuary, Waterstone Village Shopping Centre, Vergelegen Plein and Sitari Village Mall.[5][6][7][8][9]


Somerset West offers several tourist attractions due to its position on the Hottentots-Holland mountains and between the Cape Winelands and the nearby beaches of Strand and Gordon's Bay.


Somerset West forms part of the Helderberg Wine Region which is a wine-producing sub-region of the greater Stellenbosch Wine Region. Helderberg includes wine estates such as include 96 Winery, Alto, Audacia, Annandale, Cavalli, Ernie Els, Grangehurst, Guardian Peak, Haskell, Hidden Valley, Idiom, Ken Forrester, Klein Welmoed, Le Riche, Longridge, Lourensford, Lyngrove, Miravel, Morgenster, Peter Falke, Post House, Somerbosch, Uva Mira, Vergelegen, Vergenoegd and Waterkloof.

The most popular and nearest wine estates amongst the many surrounding Somerset West are Vergelegen and Lourensford. The Vergelegen Wine Estate lies on the border of Somerset West, spanning into the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve. The buildings on the estate constitute fine examples of Cape Dutch architecture.

The Lourensford Wine Estate which neighbours the Vergelegen Wine Estate features the Lourensford Market[10] and a Sports car museum known as MOTOR Studio.[citation needed]


Every December, the town has a display of Christmas lights erected atop the street lights of the Main Road. The Helderberg Lights Festival (aka the Strawberry Festival), a flea market and parade, normally complements these lights.


The Helderberg Nature Reserve,[11] a 363 hectare natural wildlife preserve opened in 1964, contains a wide variety of smaller fauna (small antelope, tortoises and other reptiles) and indigenous flora such as Protea and fynbos.

Guest Houses & B&Bs[edit]

In recent years[when?] many guest houses and B&Bs have opened up in Somerset West, since it is conveniently located for Cape Town (45 kilometres (28 mi) away on the N2 motorway), the beaches at the Strand and Gordon's Bay, and the Western Cape's numerous wine farms.


In recent years, there has been a population boom in Somerset West with various secure or gated estates such as Sitari Country Estate, Croydon Vineyard and Olive Estates and Kelderhof Country Village being built on previously undeveloped land west of the town, gradually closing the little break isolating Somerset West from the rest of the metropolitan area. Paardevlei, south of the town, is an emerging mixed-use development comprising gated residential complexes and the Busamed Paardevlei Private Hospital.[12][13][14][15]


The town has a range of primary and secondary educational facilities.

Primary schools

High schools

Higher Education



Somerset West lies on the Strand Line (a branch line of the Northern Line), connecting its two railway stations: Somerset West and Van der Stel. The Strand service operated by Metrorail runs westwards to Cape Town (via Kuilsrivier and Bellville) and eastwards to Strand.


The N2 is the main route through Somerset West connecting Cape Town with Grabouw and George. The N2 W (in the direction of Cape Town) from the R102 on the outskirts of the town runs as a dual-carriage freeway while the N2 E (in the direction of George) runs as an at-grade road. Running north-west to Kuilsrivier, the R102 (Strand Road) is an older section of the N2 and the old main road between Cape Town and Somerset West. The R44 (Broadway Boulevard) connects to Stellenbosch in the north and Kleinmond in the south-east (via Strand and Gordon's Bay).

The town is also intersected by four metropolitan routes connecting it to surrounding suburbs such as the M9 (Main Road; Sir Lowry's Pass Village Road) connecting to Macassar in the west and Sir Lowry's Pass Village in the east, the M149 (Victoria Street) connecting to Strand, the M153 (Main Road) connecting to Strand and the M156 (Irene Avenue; Steynsrust Road) connecting to Firgrove.

Notable people[edit]

Coats of arms[edit]

Municipality (1) — Somerset West was a municipality in its own right from 1904 to 1996. The council approved its first coat of arms on 23 April 1935.[16]

Municipality (2) — In 1953, the council approved a new design, by Ivan Mitford-Barberton and H. Ellis Tomlinson. This was in response to a Cape Provincial Administration circular calling on municipalities to have their arms checked and, if necessary, re-designed to make them heraldically correct. The arms were granted by the College of Arms on 25 November 1953. They were registered at the Bureau of Heraldry in June 1994.[17]

The arms were: Azure, a portcullis chained Or; on a chief of the last a setting sun Gules (i.e. a blue shield displaying a red setting sun on a golden stripe across the top, and a golden portcullis with chains below it). The crest was a golden demi-lion holding a vine, issuing from a red mural crown charged with three golden rings. The motto was Prorsum sursum. The design is canting: the portcullis comes from the Somerset family arms, and the setting sun denotes the west.



  1. ^ a b c d "Main Place Somerset West". Census 2011.
  2. ^ "Official planning suburbs". Retrieved 17 March 2019.
  3. ^ Sandra Olivier (2005). Touring in South Africa. Struik. p. 30. ISBN 978-1-77007-142-1. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
  4. ^ "Census 2011: Main Place: Somerset West". Retrieved 16 June 2022.
  5. ^ "Home". Somerset Value Centre. Retrieved 16 June 2022.
  6. ^ "The Sanctuary Shopping Centre | Somerset West | Tranquil & Convenient". The Sanctuary Shopping Centre. Retrieved 16 June 2022.
  7. ^ "Helderberg Centre « HEYSHOPS.CO.ZA". Retrieved 16 June 2022.
  8. ^ "Waterstone Village | Helderberg | An Extraordinary Shopping Experience". Waterstone Village. Retrieved 16 June 2022.
  9. ^ "Vergelegen Plein Shopping Centre". Retrieved 16 June 2022.
  10. ^ "Lourensford Market". Retrieved 5 June 2022.
  11. ^ "Helderberg Nature Reserve website".
  12. ^ "Sitari Country Estate | Live in the Helderberg's Most Iconic Estate". Sitari Country Estate. Retrieved 16 June 2022.
  13. ^ "Kelderhof Country Village | Home". Retrieved 16 June 2022.
  14. ^ "WELCOME". CroYdon Vineyard Estate. Retrieved 16 June 2022.
  15. ^ "Busamed Paardevlei Private Hospital". Busamed Paardevlei Private Hospital. Retrieved 16 June 2022.
  16. ^ Western Cape Archives : Somerset West Municipal Minutes (23 April 1935).
  17. ^ National Archives of South Africa : Data of the Bureau of Heraldry