Wreck of the Arniston and Waenhuiskrans fishing village,

History of Arniston

Province: Western Cape
Coordinates; 34°40′0″S 20°13′50″E
Area:3.95 km2
Municipality Cape Agulh:as

Arniston has two official names, Arniston and Waenhuiskrans. In 1815 a British transport ship carrying wounded soldiers plus women and children back to England from Ceylon, ran aground off the coast at Waenhuiskraal. Only six passengers survived and after several days on the beach, they were discovered by Jan Swart who was the son of the farmer of Elandsvallij. They were taken to Cape Town by ox wagon. The name of the wreck of the Arniston has become synonymous with the area and the names Waenhuiskraal and Arniston are both used.
Arniston was inhabited for thousands of years by the Khoi people. There is evidence of contact with Europeans as far back as the 16th century, most likely with survivors of shipwrecks.
During the mid-1600s the settlers at the cape began to explore the Overberg area where they traded with indigenous people and used the area for cattle grazing.
Arniston began as a fishing village and the village that stands today began on the farm  Arniston Downs which was a loan farm (this was land rented and worked by settler farmers) granted to Rietz van Breda and Joubert in 1838. It was subsequently bought by Dirk Uys in 1880 who sold it to Julian and John Pratt in 1894.

The area has however been a fishing village since at least 1850 when some indigenous people, descendants of the Hessequa tribe, and freed slaves began fishing here. It is characterized by whitewashed houses with thatched rooves.
Arniston has been visited as a holiday destination since 1860. There are records of a local farmer who rented his house to guests.
In 1905 the Pratt brothers proposed a plan to develop their land as a holiday village and to move the fishermen. This proposition was opposed and the services of a lawyer from Caledon were required. A settlement was reached after the case reached the Cape High Court and the fishing community was asked to pay one shilling to buy the land as there was evidence that the families had been living there for over 50 years. Each received a stand in the village and the other development went ahead.
The fishing boats were mainly sailing vessels. The first motorized boats arrived in 1920 and the harbour was built in 1936.
Arniston / Waenhuiskraal was declared a town in 1922 and the area in its entirety has been declared a national monument.

Postal code (boxes only) 7280.


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Things to see and do in Arniston

Useful Numbers in Arniston


  • Police: Struisbaai 028 435 6440
  • Traffic department: Bredasdorp 028 424 2440
  • Municipality Cape Aghullas 028 435 538
  • Fire: 107 Disaster management 028 425 5500 Bredasdorp fire 028 4251690
  • `Water:
  • Electricity: 028 425 1019
  • Ambulance: 10177
  • NSRI 082 990 5952
  • Ratepayers association  021 425 3218
  • Conservation association 021  424 4596
  • Post office; Bredasdorp 028 4241370
  • Library: Waenhuiskrans/Arniston 028 445 9556
  • Closest hospital; Bredasdorp provincial hospital 028 424 1167
  • Pharmacy; Only the shop at the hotel 028 445 9000
  • SPCA: Bredasdorp animal welfare 082 8980787/ 028 425 2270
  • Schools: Wagenhuiskranz primary 028 445 9737
  • Museum; Harbour st Arniston                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           


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