Town planned around Forestry in the 1700s

History of George


  • Province: Western Cape
  • Garden Route
  • Coordinates:33°58′S 22°27′E
  • Area:77.4 km2
  • Municipality: George

Forestry station

The town of George was established because of a demand for timber needed for building, transport, and furniture. The great forests of the Southern Cape were discovered as early as 1711, but because of their inaccessibility, it was only in 1776 that the Dutch East India Company established an outpost at George. There were abundant forests in the area, for the provision of timber.

Establishment of the new municipality

When the Cape fell under British occupation, a forest caretaker was appointed. It was decided in 1806 that the Swellendam municipality was too large, and George was pinpointed as a suitable place for a town because of the availability of water. George was proclaimed in 1811 by the Earl of Caledon and named after the British monarch of the time King George the 3rd. The first local authority was elected in 1837 and George attained municipal status in 1884. A Dutch Reformed Parish was established in 1812 and the first minister was  TJ Herold. The small village of Herolds Bay is named after him.

Irrigation system

The first Landrost was Tiaan Swart who set about planning an irrigation system for the new town consisting of furrows that brought water from the river into town. The town was also planned with plots and wide streets, along which rows of oak trees. were planted. One of these has been proclaimed a natural monument.  A length of chain is embedded in its trunk. There is a story that slaves were fastened to it and sold beneath the tree.

Railway triggers growth

George grew as people who had lost their businesses after the slump in the ostrich feather industry, and during a severe drought in the early 18th century settled here. They were hoping to make a livelihood from the forestry industry.  Rail and road links were the triggers for the real growth of the town. Up until then, timber for export was transported to coastal ports by ox-wagon

The economy of George

Today, George has a variety of industries such as shoe factories, cool-drink factories, and several furniture enterprises The depot for railway sleepers, formerly belonging to the South African Railways, was taken over by the Forestry Department in 1937, Eventually, the industry became the state sawmill and timber preservation installation. Other farming in the district consists of dairy farming, and sheep farming plus wheat and vegetables are grown. George is the only place in South Africa where hops are grown

Rehabilitation of the forest

Because of the wood industry, little remained of the forests.  A nursery was established at Witfontein in 1896 to supply saplings to the pine forests that were planted to cover the denuded slopes. In 1936 the Government prohibited the felling of existing trees for a period of 200 years to allow the forests to recover and to preserve indigenous trees such as stinkwood and yellow-wood.

The Licence plate prefix for George is CAW  Postcodes for George here


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Things to see and do in George



Useful Numbers in George


  • Police: 044 803 4400
  • Traffic department:044 878 2400
  • Fire:  044 801 6300
  • `Water: 044 801 9266
  • Electricity: 044 801 9222 or 044 874 3917
  • Ambulance:10177
  • Post office;044 874 1212
  • Library:044 801 9288
  • Closest hospital; 044 874 5122  George Hospital 044 802 4528  Mediclinic-044 803 2000
  • Pharmacy; King George Chemist-044 873 2420
  • SPCA: 0en; 044 878 1990  083 262 593
  • Museum; 044 873 534
  • Tourism; 044 873 6355
  • Schools
  • St Mary’s Primary School- 044 875 8450
  • Curro Castle George- 044 805 3300
  • Carpe Diem School, -Special education school- 044 874 4074
  • Van Kervel School- 044 874 2042
  • Rosemoor Primary School- 044 875 8820
  • Denneoord Primary School
  • Laerskool Denneoord- 044 873 3439
  • Thembalethu High School- 044 880 9180
  • Conville Primary School- 044 875 8340
  • Parkdene Primary School- 078 320 8712
  • Heidedal Primary School- 0448758330                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

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