South African Naval Museum, Simon's Town
Did you know?
Other museums on Simon’s Town’s Historic Mile include the Heritage Museum, the Warrior Toy Museum and the Simon’s Town Museum.
Although Cape Town’s Table Bay was the major docking point for ships rounding the Cape of Good Hope from the mid-1600s, the little seaport of Simon’s Town on the other side of the Cape Peninsula became preferred during the tempestuous winter months.
Ships could easily be beached near Simon’s Town, repaired and safely docked during the stormy season.
And in 1741, the ruling Dutch East India Company made it official: Simon’s Town would be its winter anchorage. Suddenly the village had a lot of work to do, and within 25 years, Simon’s Town was transformed into a busy naval port, complete with blacksmith, hospital, seamen’s accommodation, bakery and massive storehouses.
During the 2nd occupation by the British, which began in 1806, the Royal Navy also took up the routine of winter anchorage in Simon’s Town. In 1814, a mast-house and sail-loft were built together; this space was taken over in 1993 by the South African Naval Museum.
For those who like military affairs, and in particular naval subjects, this museum is worth every minute spent in it. There’s a real-size ship’s bridge, a cross-section of the inside of a submarine’s ops room, and all manner of naval guns and general equipment.
The various uniforms worn by branches of the South African Navy, from yesteryear to the current era, are on display. There’s also a very interesting old diving suit that looks like a prop from a Jules Verne-inspired movie.
There is also some very dramatic naval artwork on display in the museum, recalling in particular various sea battles fought during World War II.
More than 1 200 people visit the South African Naval Museum every month. It is managed jointly by the South African Navy, and the South African Naval Heritage Trust and its society. The trust is committed to preserving the proud heritage of the South African Navy.
In the same building, right next to the museum, is St George’s Dockyard Church, which was consecrated as a place of worship by the archbishop of Cape Town in 1945.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
South African Naval Museum
Tel: +27 (0) 21 787 4686
Cape Point Route
Tel: +27 (0)21 782 9356
Cape Town Tourism
Tel: +27 (0)21 487 6800 / +27 (0)86 132 2223