All about Somerset West
Somerset West is a town that lies within Western Cape Province and is politically regarded as part of the City of Cape Town metropolitan municipality. It is located in the Helderberg area, which was previously known as Hottentots Holland. Now Somerset West is a delightful residential area and many of its residents commute daily to Cape Town, which is about thirty miles away. The town was given the name Somerset after a one-time governor of Cape Colony in the 1800s. His name is Lord Charles Henry Somerset and he was English.
The word ‘West,’ which was added to ‘Somerset’ after 1925, was done in order to differentiate this place from Somerset East, a town in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. In addition to this, Somerset West is home to Vergelegen, an inspiring 18th century farmhouse that was constructed in Cape Dutch manner. This farm now belongs to a subsidiary of Anglo American, a large mining firm that has restored this place to its initial magnificence.
Life in Somerset West
One of the traditions that Somerset West is known for is its yearly Christmas light display. This happens along its Main Road. During this period people will come from different parts of South Africa to see this wonderful display of sparkling lights, bells, candles, angels, reindeer, and much more as they drive slowly along this road.
This is complemented by the Helderberg Lights Festival, which is also called the Strawberry Festival. It kicks off later in the day or evening at the same venue when the Main Road has been closed with flea market stalls arranged under these lights. This indeed is a nice outing for the entire family! A similar tradition in this town is one that is held annually at Vergelegen. It is known as “Candles By Candlelight” and involves people being invited to spend their Christmas with family as well as with friends on this wine farm’s sprawling lawns.
There are other things in Somerset West that has attracted many and made them visit this place. For one, there is the 363 hectare Helderberg Nature Reserve. It was opened in 1964 and contains a number of smaller fauna, (buck plus other reptiles), as well as wonderful specimens of protea, fynbos, and other indigenous flora. Secondly, the town equally has several sporting facilities like golf courses that have brought many to this town. But it doesn’t end here.
This is because Monkey Town is another reason for people to visit this place and possibly even stay. As the name suggests this place is the home of as many as at least two hundred and thirty individual primates. This includes chimpanzees, squirrel monkeys, and hamadryas baboons. All these primates wander about freely even as people are allowed to view these human-like animals from a walkway that is enclosed, which meanders through the park, Monkey Town. Apart from these primates they also have other kinds of animals like sheep, chickens, potbelly pigs, and mountain tortoises among others.
Besides this, the area between Stellenbosch town and Somerset West is encompassed with several vineyards plus wineries. Examples include Alto, J.P. Bredell, and Rust-en-Vrede. They provide visitors with the opportunity of sampling and purchasing wine.
There are a number of primary and secondary schools in Somerset West. Hottentots Holland High School is one. Parel Vallei High School is another. They are both co-educational schools. This means that the two schools admit both male and female students. There are other schools of course, but these schools constitute two of the better known academic institutions in this area.
A benefit of attending Parel Vallei is that the school is the only one in the entire country that offers CIE, (Cambridge International Examination), courses and the Senior Certificate course side by side. Therefore, for as many as lives in Somerset West with their child enrolled here can look forward to a time when such child may take AS-Level /A-Level classes if they are interested in same.
Radio Helderberg is the community radio station of Somerset West. It keeps everyone that listens to its broadcast abreast of recent developments happening within this area. So wouldn’t it be great to know that such information is easily available. More often than not getting local news today can be a challenge as the entire nation and indeed the whole world is getting more and more global-focused.
Finally, living in Somerset West will expose one to all kinds of opportunities to live the good live. As listed above, one can go out with the family to a number of interesting places. Get to interact with others during such engagements and generally have fun. What is great about this is that it will not require travelling far or leaving your town since Somerset has much to offer.