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