www.capetown.at Roddy Bray's Guide to Cape Town  
Click for Home Page
Click for Cape Town City Guide

Click for Heritage
SA Flag - Click for MP3 downloads
Audio Guides
Click for Directory of Cape Town Weblinks
Penguin at Boulders - click for Photos
Click for Storyletters

The British Era
(page 2)
The Reform Movement
In the early years of the nineteenth century, British merchants, mostly former employees of the British East India Company, established companies in Cape Town to trade and export agricultural and other products (more..)

Merchants became the driving force of a powerful and active middle class that set about bringing British liberal 'reform' principles to Cape Town society. These values found expression in the editorials of John Fairbairn, the founder of the first newspaper (1824) - the 'South African Commercial Advertiser'. The paper encouraged energetic support for the emancipation of slaves, the liberalisation of trade, participation in sport, development of infrastructure, health care, literacy, education, science, the arts and self-government.

Merchants based at the Cape were supported by 'the Trading Society' in London that lobbied the Imperial government on their behalf. The vision was also shared by a new generation of government officials in the Cape that built infrastructure and set about developing schools (more...)

In combination, government and the middle class developed a vibrant civil society and a modern city at the Cape. Societies for leisure and learning were established (more...)

Through trade the middle class grew in wealth and power and developed the resources to establish important financial companies in the 1830s (more...)

The middle class aimed to re-develop the town and transform it from a 'rural' Dutch town into a colonial capital. They argued for this on the grounds of civic pride and public health. Particularly as commerce gathered pace much of the old Dutch town was replaced with grand new buildings (more...).

The desire to 'modernise' Cape Town from its Dutch trappings extended also to culture. Support was given to British missionary organisations, and more denominations sprang up (more...). Scottish ministers were even fed into the Dutch Reformed Church to give the church a more 'British' feel (this back-fired, the Scots became fervent Afrikaners).

However, it was the movement to abolish slavery that was to cause the biggest and most damaging break between the British and 'Afrikaner' populations of the Cape.

Go to the next page >>>>>>

© www.capetown.at 2008. You may print this article for personal use; if for reproduction please acknowledge 'www.www.capetown.at.co.za'. You may not use this material for any electronic media except with written permission. www.capetown.at accepts no responsibility for inaccuracies or the work of service providers.


Heritage Sections
· Culture ·
· Environment ·
History · Society
Personalities · Areas

In this period of Cape History:


Reform Movement

Afrikaner Reaction

A City Develops

Imperial Capital

The Rise of Prejudice

Boom Years

The End of British Rule


Bibliography & Contacts


Return to top