Armoria academica

WESTERFORD HIGH SCHOOL, Rondebosch, Cape Town.

Afrikaanse blasoen

Westerford High

The arms are not registered under the Heraldry Act. They may be blazoned:

Arms: Murrey, an outline of Devil’s Peak as seen from Westerford azure, with the sun or setting behind the dexter side of the peak; an oak tree murrey rooted in base; the mountain and the tree both fimbriated or; the whole within a demi-border or.

Motto: Nil Nisi Optimum.

About the arms:
Although the design steers close to violations of the heraldic rule of colour and incorporates a landscape element (frowned upon by heraldic purists), it is nonetheless a simple, pleasing design that tells a great deal about the school’s location.

It was inspired by the first visit, in 1952, of pioneer principal Noel Taylor and his wife to the Klein Westerford property. Mr Taylor had spent the day teaching at Simonstown High School, where he was vice-principal, and arrived at Klein Westerford as the sun was setting. Mrs Taylor was struck by the scene set by the oaks in the foreground and the light cast over the mountain by the disappearing sun, and later composed the design still used by the school.

The strength of the design lies in the use of fimbriations which avoid the otherwise inexcusable use of tincture on tincture, and in the reduction of the peak to a plain blue background.

Devil’s Peak can also be seen in the arms of the town of Rondebosch, which disappeared as an independent municipality in 1913, 39 years before Mr Taylor took over as principal.

The colour of the sky and of the tree is described by the school as being maroon. The nearest heraldic equivalent of maroon is murrey, one of the group of heraldic colourings known as stains. It is rarely used in traditional heraldry, but well entrenched in South African school uniforms. The maroon used for the school blazers is the colour of a medium red wine.

The sun’s rays are shown as beams; this is not the usual way of rendering sun rays in heraldry, but it conveys better the way the light is seen at this time of day, as the sun disappears behind the mountain. The usual heraldic rendition alternates straight and wavy piles issuant from the roundel of the sun.

The heraldic colour or means “gold”, but the school has wisely avoided trying to imitate the metal too closely. Yellow is in any case interchangeable with or, and the yellow thread used in stitching the badge is bright and close to gold.

The one serious drawback of the whole design is its placement in a Renaissance-style shield, but this could easily be remedied in a fresh drawing, perhaps by an artist attached to the Bureau of Heraldry.

The motto translates as “Nothing but the best.”

About the school and its location:
Claremont Secondary was the name of a small English-medium co-educational school that shared premises with a primary school in Dean Street, Newlands, in 1952. (Newlands, of which Dean Street is the northern boundary west [mountain side] of Main Road, was part of the municipality of Claremont until 1913.)

Late in 1952 the boys of the senior school carried their desks (and the girls’) down Dean Street and along Main Road, Rondebosch, to the house on the Klein Westerford estate. The post of principal of the new senior school was advertised, Mr Taylor was appointed and on 21 January 1953 he took charge.

Klein Westerford is the northernmost of three divisions of the Westerford estate, once a farm called Westervoort. Westerford was (on the west side of Main Road) the southernmost property in Rondebosch. Two of the divisions of the estate are now consolidated as Great Westerford, headquarters of the Southern Life Insurance group, but for many years Great and Klein Westerford were separated by a property called Great Kelvin.

The farm Westervoort was a subdivision of the Dutch East India Company’s (VOC’s) estate De Nieuwe Landen (today Newlands). In 1706 it was transferred to Johannes Phijffer, measuring “twee morgen en 175 roeden”.1

The house Groot Westervoort, a beautiful 18th-century home and in its time a showpiece in the district, was demolished in 1953.

The name Westervoort is taken from the town of Westervoort (the name means “western fort”) in the Dutch province of Gelderland. The choice of name seems to have been influenced by the ford (Dutch voord) over the Liesbeeck River on the wagon-road to Wynberg (now Main Road). The ford was replaced under Dutch rule, and there is mention of a report made in 1807 of the road from the bridge at Westervoort to Muizenberg.

The property became “Westerford” shortly afterward as part of a then fashionable anglicisation of placenames.

Mr Taylor felt that the property’s name should be that of the school as well, and unofficially called the school Westerford Secondary from 1953 onwards. The Cape Education Department gave its blessing in 1956, when the first Std 10 class matriculated, and the school has been called Westerford High School since then.

The school was originally accommodated in the house Klein Westerford, but this was demolished in 1959 to make way for school buildings. The school hall, erected later the same year, was named after Mr Taylor.

The school has its own website here.

Afrikaanse blasoen:
Die wapen kan in Afrikaans so geblasoeneer word:

Wapen: In moerbeikleur, ’n goue son wat regs agter Duiwelspiek sak, die berg in blou en in die voorgrond ’n eikeboom van moerbeikleur; die berg en die boom albei goud omlyn.

Leuse: Nil nisi optimum.

Die leuse vertaal as “Niks behalwe die beste nie.”

1 The morgen (0,856 ha) was the standard measure of land in South Africa until 1970. Smaller areas were measured in square roods, 3,78 m × 3,78 m.


Back to top of page

Sources: Information provided by the school and taken from Wagon Road to Wynberg, by C Pama.

Illustration of the school arms provided by the school; illustration of the arms of Westervoort courtesy of International Civic Arms.

Back to schools index

Terug na skole-indeks (Afrikaans)

Back to Armoria academica index

Back to Armoria index

Remarks, inquiries: Mike Oettle