About the band
Meet the team
Our history
Digital archive
Contact us


My hart verlang
na die Boland


Physical Address

Cable Hill
Simon’s Town

GPS Co-ordinates: 34°11´39˝ S
34°25´40˝ E

You are welcome to drop in and visit us. Please report to reception.

How to find us

As you enter Simon’s Town on Main Road, pass Admiralty House on the left and approximately 200 metres further turn right onto Soldier’s Way, turn right into Arsenal Road and then left into Cornwall Road. Follow this road for a further two hundred metres until you see the SA Navy Band’s sign, which is just past Barnard Street.  Turn right here and follow the “s"-bend service road up to the Band complex.

View SA Navy Band in a larger map


Director Naval Music: (+27 21) 787-4059
Band Ship’s Office: (+27 21) 787-3719
Fax: (+27 21) 787-3116


Send mail to: SA Navy Band 

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About our town and Bandroom

“Simon’s Town, the home of the South African Navy Band, owes its existence to the Governor of the Cape, Simon van der Stel, who in 1687 personally undertook a survey of False Bay. (False Bay is approximately 30 km’s south of Cape Town.) He suggested to the Dutch East India Company that the sheltered bay of the west side, which he named Simon’s Bay, be used for a winter anchorage for their ships.

The Main rehearsal room

In 1741, the small village of Simonsvlek was established on the shore of Simon’s Bay. The small settlement gradually developed to become the important harbour of Simon’s Town.” [Extracts from: ‘Admiralty House Simon’s Town’ by Professor Boet Dommissee.]

In its almost three hundred years of existence, Simon’s Town was controlled by both the Dutch and the British. The Naval Base in Simon’s Town was finally handed over to the South African Navy in 1957.

Simon’s Town has many historical buildings, the Royal Naval Hospital and Sanatorium being two of them. This is where you will find the pride of the South African Navy … the SA Navy Band.

(More about Simon's Town at www.simonstown.com)

View from the Band Room

History of the Royal Naval Hospital and Sanatorium

Royal Naval Hospital

The last naval hospital to be built in Simon’s Town was the Royal Naval Hospital, constructed on the slopes of Upper Mount Pleasant above Cornwall Street. It replaced the unsatisfactory Naval Hospital on the Main Road at the southern end of the town which had become overcrowded, the fever ward having been described as “a most unsatisfactory building”. Construction started in 1899 at an estimate of £7,000. The work was initially undertaken departmentally and most buildings were completed by 1904. The three wards had a peacetime accommodation of 87 beds. Her Royal Highness Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein, third daughter of Queen Victoria, officially opened the hospital on 11 October 1904.

Plan of the original Royal Naval Hospital 1906

All transport up the mountain slope of construction material and personnel was undertaken by either ox wagon or pack donkeys, the Aerial Ropeway only being completed at the end of 1904. An example of the challenge of building on the side of a mountain was well illustrated in April 1902 when over two hundred ‘Blue-Jackets’ from the Royal Navy were engaged to haul two large boilers up the steep slope to the hospital site.

General layout of the Royal Naval Hospital - Mount Pleasant 1906
click to enlarge image

The construction of the Venereal Disease Ward and the Medical Superintendent’s Residence did, however, use the Aerial Ropeway as these buildings were constructed around 1906. The Venereal Ward had accommodation for 18 patients.

Lounge area

The hospital galley (kitchen block) included stores and accommodation (‘the butler’s cabin’). The butler was a Petty Officer who was responsible for the ordering of hospital stores. The peacetime galley arrangements were sufficient to cook for a maximum of 150 patients and staff. On construction of the galley, a large coal-fired range with a water heating attachment was installed. This proved to be more than adequate and most satisfactory. It remained in service for over 40 years, and was finally scrapped in 1944 when an oil-fired range was installed.

The funicular (or food rail track, as it was commonly called) was installed when the galley was built in 1900, and was used for conveying food, etc. from the galley and stores to the upper hospital. It operated, albeit somewhat erratically, for over 40 years (ambulances were used to convey the food when the funicular was broken) and survived the increased demand for service during the Second World War when over 220 beds were filled. It was modernised in 1947 and saw service until the closure of the hospital.

The Medical Stores building was a two-storeyed building which maintained a six-month stock. It carried sufficient chests and accessories for one cruiser and two small vessels, and was available at all times. A senior Sick Berth rating dispensed the medical stores.

Around 1912 the original mortuary, which was situated below the laundry block, was converted into a small ward for a maximum of eight female patients with a bathroom, toilet and kitchenette. A new mortuary was built near the first landing stage of the Aerial Ropeway, and ‘Blofield’ in Cornwall Street opposite the hospital was used as nurses’ quarters.

Naval Sanatorium

The building of the Naval Sanatorium on the Klaver Valley plateau above Red Hill enjoyed the full use of the Aerial Ropeway, as the foundations of the Sanatorium had been completed at the end of 1904. A rough temporary tramway from the Hospital to the Sanatorium had previously been built in May 1903 to transport materials for the foundations. Once the more permanent Aerial Ropeway was in operation, it was used to transport materials, equipment and labour. The Aerial Ropeway was of great advantage as negotiating the steep slopes and poor roadway had been extremely time-consuming.

Construction of the Sanatorium was completed in 1905. The complex consisted of five buildings which were constructed near the landing stage of the Aerial Ropeway. These buildings were the main block itself, the officers’ block, the kitchen block, and two smaller convalescent buildings behind the kitchen block. A cottage was built lower down the slope for the Warrant Officer Gunner in charge of Admiralty property security. A huge mast was used for the Ensign and to signal ships in the bay.

The Sanatorium was a convalescent unit for the recuperation of sick and injured seamen. Besides the cable car, the only access to the Sanatorium was via a long walk up the bridle-path, or a steep climb up several hundred steps. Thus a simple but effective way of keeping the patients away from the numerous public houses in the town was achieved. Both the Hospital and Sanatorium remained in use until 1957, when all the Royal Naval buildings were handed over to the South African Navy under the Simon’s Town Agreement. The Royal Navy then used the Military Hospital in Wynberg.

Today, the Royal Naval Hospital buildings are used as follows:

bullet The medical Superintendent’s Residence remains a Navy residence.
bullet The Venereal Disease Ward (also known as ‘the canary ward’) is used by the SA Navy Band for practice and rehearsals.
bullet The galley (kitchen block), is used for storage of SA Navy Band instruments and public address systems (plus repairs to same).
bullet The Medical Stores building is now the offices of the Senior Director of Music of the SA Navy Band, and also houses a music library and SA Navy archive material.
bullet The wards and the operating theatres have all been converted into houses for Navy personnel.
bullet The original and the older mortuary, the administration and the duty offices have been refurbished and are now residences for navy personnel.
bullet The boiler room and much of the north side of the laundry houses old machinery and equipment.
bullet The remainder of the laundry and the original dental block have been converted into a Navy residence.


The modern French Horn
is derived from
the French
hunting horn of
the 1650s.
Early horns
did not have

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revision date: Tuesday, March 09, 2010

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