Stanford is one of the three
villages in the Overberg, Western
Cape. It should be on
visit" list - especially as it lies only 150km
from Cape Town en route between Hermanus and Gansbaai.
Waving grasslands and a strong stream of fresh water attracted farmers to the Kleinje River Valleij in the old days. One of
them was Christoffel Brand, who built the first farmstead on the farm Kleine River's Valley. This was the house in which
Lady Anne Barnard stayed during her inland journey in 1798.
In 1801 the farm was granted by the British Government to Brand. The farm changed hands several times until it was bought
in 1838 by a prosperous Irish farmer, Robert Stanford. He made many improvements and built the mill (for grinding wheat)
close to the stream that ran close to his farm house.
Being an entrepreneurial spirit, he transported products by sea from a small bay (now known as Stanford's Cove, close to De
Kelders), to Cape Town - rather than using the time-consuming route over the Hottentots-Holland Mountain. Robert Stanford
lost his farm after a trading tragedy.
Philippus de Bruyn bought the farm in 1855, laid out the village and sold plots of which the first registered name of
Duncan McFarlane on 30 September 1857. The village of Stanford was born.
It is still popular for its rural tranquility, leafy streets, historical architecture, river trips on the Klein River, an
abundance of 124 species of birdlife, Birkenhead Brewery (which produces 5 types of beer from the sweetish Honey Blonde to
the more serious Chocolate Stout) and the Klein River Valley Cheese factory. City dwellers have made Stanford their 2nd
home and with the help of the then Monuments Council, Stanford was declared as a conservation area. Stanford almost
experienced a renaissance - new businesses, restaurants and people with innovative ideas arrived - new developments - it
has become a sought-after place for investments and to live or retire.
The Birkenhead Brewery's name was in memory of the HMS Birkenhead which was a 1400 ton British Iron Paddle Frigate built in
1845 and converted into a troop ship in 1848. While captained by Robert Salmond and transporting troops from Simon's Town
to East London for the Frontier War she struck a rock 1½ nautical mile off Danger Point, Gansbaai. In the face of death
the troops on board first allowed all the women and children to save themselves. The Birkenhead sank on the west side of
the rock in a depth of 35 metres and of the 638 people on board, 445 of the men lost their lives, including the captain
Robert Salmond, but all the 7 women and 13 children survived. The saying: "Women & children first" was born that night.
There's some talk that Salmond was the very man who got the Birkenhead into trouble for he was sailing to close to shore
and he made a serious mistake by trying to reverse the stricken vessels off the rock thus hastening its break up. But in
the end, Robert Salmond, like Robert Stanford, got his corner of South Africa and today the Salmondsdam Nature Reserve
bears his name.