For all enquiries please contact [email protected] 0217823679
Situated in the Glencairn valley, Cape Town, surrounded by nature & within walking distance to the beach
Contact: 021 7823872 / [email protected]
A BRIEF HISTORY OF GORDONS and GORDONS CAMP William Goodman Haines, the founder of The Gordons, was born in England in 1878. Not much is known of his childhood except, that in his early twenties he was diagnosed with TB & given 6 months to live. He was not prepared to accept his fate & moved to Cape Town & a healthier climate. He started a rigorous exercise routine, running, walking, swimming and gymnastics, fresh air and wholesome food. His health improved & he only died in 1942 at the age of 64. William Haines was a school teacher who taught at SACS for many years. He had no family & so he dedicated his life to improving the lives of young men & women. In 1907 having witnessed the amount of poor youth in the City turning to crime due to lack of schooling and guidance, he tried an experiment. He gathered a number of the poorer youth of the City plus boys from more affluent homes and started gymnastic classes twice a week in a garage in Gordon Street. Haines was a great admirer of General C G Gordon, who had become famous for his work amongst the underprivileged youth in Britain. The club became known as Gordons Institute & the sporting side was expanded to also include waterpolo, swimming & football. In 1910 Haines started night classes to provide education as he believed " A sound mind in a sound body". During World War 1 from 1914 - 400 of Gordons men served with distinction in the war Back home the women and children kept the club going during the men’s absence & sent parcels & letters to all serving the country. Before the war, membership was restricted to young men & boys. It was realised that young women had similar needs & were therefore allowed to become members & Gordons Institute Women’s Section was founded in 1917. With the increase of membership the club facilities became too small & they moved temporary to Duncan Chambers, Adderley St. Shortly thereafter the Council allowed the use of the Governor General’s Rest House on the Grand Parade. By 1923 Haines had introduced day classes & training for apprentices of various trades. Haines had been engaging with the authorities, trying to impress upon them the need for compulsory education for the underprivileged youth. The Department of Education finally built the Cape Technical College and took over the classes. In 1925 Haines bought a block of buildings known as Kamp’s Cold Storage next to Woodstock Station and this became the new home of Gordons Institute. In 1951 The Cape Town City Council made land available in Mowbray, the government gave a grant of £1000 to assist with the financing of the new Gordons headquarter/clubhouse, catering for table tennis, basketball, gymnastics, badminton, karate and judo. Hockey, water polo, diving and swimming was catered for at outside facilities. This building remained the Headquarters of the Gordons until 1985 when the sporting sections were disbanded & The University of Cape Town took over the lease. Today the Damelin College occupies the building. During the 1920's Haines leased a farm in the Glencairn Valley known as Elsjes Farm which he eventually purchased in 1929. He took young Gordons members down to the farm for weekends at the seaside. First he built Snug Cabin & Restawhile & then in the early 1930's with the assistance of the young Gordons men they built the 2 big wooden dormitories with outside eating areas as they are today. When William Goodman Haines passed away 1942, aged sixty-four. He bequeathed the lower half the Glencairn farm to Gordons to be administered as a holiday camp & as he was a Rotarian he left the top half to the Rotary Club of Cape Town, also to be administered as a youth camp for the underprivileged. The Tennis Court on Gordons Property was to remain for the use of the Community. In the early 1950's Johnny King, who was a staunch Gordons member died & left money to Gordons. This was used to purchase a wooden site office from Murray & Roberts, which was reconstructed as it stands today. Up until the late 1950's & early 1960's there were only open-air cold water showers for washing, toilets were long drops in outhouses across the field from the bungalows & all cooking was done on fires in the cookhouse. During the 60's proper bathrooms with hot water were built & long drops converted to flushing toilets within the bungalows. One of the open-air showers & cookhouses are still standing. Access to the camp was via a small wooden footbridge across the river. During the late 1950's the entrance road was graded & a new wooden bridge to carry cars across the river was built. This bridge was used until 2000 when the present concrete bridge was built. Next to the bridge is one of the original farm cottages - supposedly a hunting lodge of Lord Charles Somerset. The cottage has been modernised with a bathroom & extra bedroom & was used for many years by the caretakers of the camp. Behind the cottage were the stables, which in the early days were converted to housing for a large destitute family. These buildings were eventually demolished. In 2005 an old wooden house was purchased and reconstructed at the camp as a Recreational Room for use by the campers. This was much needed as there were no indoor recreational facilities. To assist with finance, this facility has also been rented out for meetings, and day groups etc. Following Haines’s wishes, the Gordons hosted several orphanages including St Georges & St Michaels to holidays at the camp. Today the camp not only caterers for the youth but also the elderly. It is used by approximately 2 700 people annually for weekends & holiday camps and approximately 2 000 day visitors. Until they were removed by the City Council, Gordons rented 2 bathing boxes on Glencairn beach for use by the campers. In 1965 about 5 Acres was expropriated by the City Council for the widening of Glen Rd. With the development of Glencairn Heights in the mid1970's approximately 7 Hectares was expropriated by City Council to build the Blackhill Express Way. The Gordons were paid 88.2cents per square metre for the land. With the expressway cutting the sanddunes off from the camp, the campers could no longer access these dunes. A subway on the boundary between Rotary & Gordons was built for the use of campers from both camps.
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