History of Clifton


Province; Western Cape  

Municipality City of Cape Town
Atlantic seaboard
Area 0.61 km2


Clifton was originally called Skoenmakers Gat (Cobbler’s Cave) after a ship deserter who lived in a cave above 2nd beach. Farmers passing by on their way to Cape Town to sell produce would call in to have their shoes mended. In 1890, it was renamed after the lady who ran the only hotel in the area, whose name was Bessie Clifton.

In the 1800s vacationers built small wooden beach houses. The sites were leased from the Cape Town City Council over the summer months. They were never sold off as freehold. This did not stop the campers returning each year to enjoy ‘Clifton-on-Sea’.

By 1923 there were ninety bungalows at ‘Clifton-on-Sea’, yet the Cape Town Council still stipulated that bungalow owners vacate their cottages during the winter months to prevent residents from setting up homes permanently in the area. Later this regulation was overruled when the owners created the Clifton Owners Bungalow Association. In the 1990’s the council sold off the leasehold land and the area finally became freehold. Many bungalows underwent renovations

Clifton is now an affluent area boasting some of the most expensive real estate in South Africa. The houses have stunning views of The Atlantic Ocean and its fourth beach has received blue flag status and is rated at no 8 of the top 10 beaches in the world by Forbes.com. Shark attacks have been known but are not common.
Four beaches are frequented by both locals and tourists. The beaches are separated by granite boulders.
These are protected from the notorious Cape Doctor South Easterly wind which makes the beach popular during the times this wind blows in the summer months. The water is cold (12–16 °C), however, water sports are popular.
First-beach is popular for water sports, the surf is very strong here diminishing towards Fourth beach
Second-beach attracts students who play games such as volleyball and beach bats.
Third Beach is the smallest beach and is popular with gay culture.
Fourth Beach has blue flag status and is the most glamorous and populated beach.

There is a fifth beach known as Moses Beach, which appears and disappears as the sand is deposited or striped by the wind and waves. In the winter the North Wester strips the sand which is re-deposited during summer South Easter when the sand piles back up.

The postal code for Clifton is 8005

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Useful Numbers in Clifton

  • Emergency: 107
  • Police .021437 8140
  • Fire station: 021 480 7700
  • Water and sanitation; 0860 103 089
  • Electricity: 0860 103 089
  • Ambulance: 10177 087230 0404
  • Closest hospital/clinic: Somerset in Green Point 021 402 6911
  • SPCA: 021 700 4140
  • Closest Library: Camps Bay: 021 444 0487
  • Clifton community hall:021 400 3647
  • Closest Schools:
  • bay high021 438 1507
  • Camps Bay primary: 021 438 1503                                                                                              [/vc_column_text]

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