Overlooking the magnificent city of Johannesburg, nestled in the hills of Westcliff lies the Hope Home, a beautiful historic building built in 1905 that stands as a testament to days gone by. For more than 80 years the building has housed the Hope School, a place that, as the name suggests, has been giving hope to convalescent and disabled children by providing them with a sound education to help them realise their future dreams
The school began its life as a home for physically disabled children in 1916 with the aim to improve
their quality of life, and was registered as a school in 1929. The Hope Home and School work
closely to address the needs of the special children in their care, helping them to grow their
self-confidence, gain an education and a measure of independence and reach their full potential.
(Data on Hope School extracted from “Publicity Update”)
The stone stairs in Westcliff date back to a farsighted City Council, which in the Great Depression of 1929-1933 embarked on extensive public works programmes, such as, building the Orlando and Kelvin Power Stations, as well as projects where they could use unskilled labour. This included retaining walls along the Braamfontein Spruit, pathways in The Wilds and the Westcliff Steps. Some of the workforce had improved their skill in dressing koppie stone because not all the work is simply random stone. Significantly most of the poor relief was open only to white people.
The City Engineer’s Report for 1936 shows the stairs from Westcliff Drive going up to Woolston Road. The koppie is still very bare –no big trees to obscure the view, but the only house in the photograph was demolished some years and replaced by House Jenkins.
It was a benign beginning and hopefully lots of people still enjoy the amenity created to benefit the unemployed.
The offices of the Order of St John are at 'Glenshiel' in Westcliff, Johannesburg.
Glenshiel, one of Johannesburg's famous historic homes, was built for Sir William and Lady Dalrymple in 1908. The house and stables were designed by renowned architect Sir Herbert Baker.
Sir William, a mining magnate and his actress wife Isobel, were well-known for their entertaining, music and tennis parties. Many a well-known personality, including Princess Alice of Athlone, stayed at Glenshiel. The grounds of Glenshiel boasted one of the first swimming pools and tennis courts ever to be built in the city. Whilst the swimming pool still remains, the tennis court has since made way for a beautiful rose garden.
(Historical data extracted from The Order of St John website)
Established in 1919, The Ridge School is one of Johannesburg's oldest and finest English-medium boys’
preparatory schools. It is situated on 16 acres of the historic Westcliff Ridge, off Jan Smuts Avenue and
Valley Road, between the Zoo and the CBD.
For a nonagenarian, The Ridge School has never been so vibrant and in such robust health. With around 480 boys enrolled currently, the school is enjoying its fullest year ever. The school has indeed come a long way since it opened its doors in 1919 to 13 boys with two members of staff. Two years later, in 1921, The Ridge School colours arrived from the UK. Today, our badge is being re-formalised for consistent branding in the 21st century and we will soon see its correct application on all items of uniform and other school accessories. Back in the early 1920s, boys wore white shirts, grey shorts and identical socks to those worn today, plus the grey blazer with its cerise intertwined ‘RS’ as its crest. Khakis were only introduced as an economy measure during the Second World War.
(Data on The Ridge School extracted from the Ridge School website)