Simons Town Aerial Ropeway

Landmarks / Museums in or near Simons Town, False Bay in Cape Town, South Africa.

Western Cape Tourist AttractionsSimons Town Aerial Ropeway

Where? Simons Town, False Bay Coast, Cape Town

Overnight? Stay in Simons Town, in Western Cape

See the metal pylons on the side of the hill in Simon’s Town and you probably won’t give them more than a passing thought.

What you may not know is that the metal pylons have stood unused since 1934. And that they were once an aerial ropeway that took 15 minutes to carry people or supplies up the hill. There were a total of six cable cars - a couple for passengers, another two for patients that included a couple of cots, and two for carrying supplies.

The original ropeway, built in 1903, swung both supplies and people through the air between the West Dockyard and the Royal Naval Hospital and Sanatorium (recuperation for injured and sick seamen) up on Red Hill. A series of 17 wooden pylons supported the ropeway system that passed over St Georges Street (rather a tight fit for carts and pedestrians below), over three houses (the owners of which were paid an annual ‘right of way’ fee) up to Red Hill.

The lower station of the aerial ropeway stood next to the Sail Loft in the West Dockyard, in amongst a series of buildings whose close proximity necessitated that one of the ropeway cables passed through a hole in the nearby Mast House wall.

From there the ropeway had two landing stations: one at the Navy Hospital, and another right on the summit of Red Hill. At the second of these was the engine room that drove the ropeway, initially with a diesel engine, later by an electric system.

A few brush fires on the hill later, and the wooden pylons were replaced with metal ones that remain sentry-like above the harbour today despite the closure of the system in 1934 after they built a road up the hill in 1932.

There is a geocache at the cableway, and the tip is: you do not have to climb or enter any closed off area.

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