Fri 13 Aug 2004 | 12:00


Fri 13 Aug 2004 | 12:00


We profile Winterberg Agricultural School in an historic and beautiful area of the Eastern Cape.

The school is situated in the beautiful mountainous region of the Eastern Cape, a town much involved in the frontier Wars of the 18th and 19th centuries when the British confronted the Xhosa in several clashes.

The Xhosa fought the British for a hundred years from 1780 as different cultures and ambitions met and eventually superior weaponry won the cruel day.

Fort Beaufort was, as the name suggests, a garrison town during these wars. Lord Charles Somerset, governor of the Cape from 1814 to 1827, named the town after his father when it was founded in 1822. His father was Henry Charles Somerset, the 6th Duke of Bedford. The dukedom, created in 1682, is one of the most important in England, close to the monarchy but not close enough as the first Beaufort, John de Beaufort, was an illegitimate son of the Plantaganet John of Gaunt, son of Edward III, and Katherine Swynford.

There is a story that Henry Charles FitzRoy, 8th Duke of Beaufort, presented documents to Queen Victoria showing that John of Gaunt was actually married to Katherine Swynford. This could have proven that the present Royal Family was not entitled to the crown. Queen Victoria, a Hanoverian and therefore a later royal family than the Plantaganets, is said to have thanked the Duke for bringing the documents to her and immediately placed the them into the fire.

Fort Beaufort has signs of warring days – a Martello tower, a Military Museum and the Historical Museum,. Its Victorian barracks may just be the best outside of the UK.

Now it is a beautiful town in a beautiful area – a centre of citrus farming with the Amatola and Katberg mountains rising above it. These wooded ranges, so cold in winter, were places that mean much in Xhosa history and tradition and provided the warring tribesmen with bases.
Surrounded by spectacular mountain ranges, Fort Beaufort was established in 1822 in a protective horsehide formed by the Kat and Brak Rivers to keep a check on Xhosa tribes. Today, the town is the centre of a prosperous citrus farming area. The Historical Museum, Military Museum and Martello Tower attest to Fort Beaufort's military past.

The War of the Axe started in 1846 as the result of an incident in a Fort Beaufort shop.

In 1850 during the War of Mlanjeni, the town was attacked and nearly overrun by anti-colonial forces led by Hermanus Matroos. This war broke out when Harry Smith deposed King Sandile. Harry Smith himself suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of Maqoma at Fort Fordyce, Sandile's brother who was long imprisoned on Robben Island and died there.

The town is a two-hour drive (200km) from Port Elizabeth and an hour and a half’s drive (140km) from East London.

Not far from Fort Beaufort is the famous Methodist school of Healdtown whose most famous Old Boy is Nelson Mandela.


Winterberg Agricultural High School was founded in 1972. In 1992 Winterberg and the former Fort Beaufort High School amalgamated to form this unique setup.

The pupils are nicknamed Apies from the area, Apiesdraai, in which the school is situated. The school is situated on a farm of 1500 hectares. The Kat River provides irrigation for the citrus orchards, lucerne as well as other pastures.

Winterberg offers two lines of study, a general line as well as an agricultural line of study. In both courses Matriculation exemption can be obtained. The subject choice offers a wide variety of subjects like Mathematics, Physical Science, Agricultural Science, Applied Agricultural Science, Accounting and Biology. Game Farm Management forms a division of Applied Agricultural Science.

Winterberg is a double medium, co-ed school. Almost 50% of the 220 pupils are girls. Since 1997 Winterberg has had only one pupil failing matric. During 2003 Winterberg’s top candidate was placed 13th on the Eastern Cape's merit list, achieving 6 A’s and 1 B in his seven subjects.

On the sporting field Winterberg has always been competitive in a wide range of sports, e.g. rugby, netball, biathlon, cricket, swimming, athletics, tennis and golf.

School Information:

Name: Hoër Landbouskool Winterberg Agricultural High School
Founded: January 1972
Motto: Ut colant et custodiant (To cultivate and to preserve) 
Number of pupils: 220
Number of rugby teams: 5


At this stage the school has five teams and competes against schools from all over the Eastern Cape.

During 2004 two players represented the Eastern Province Country Districts Team at the Academy Week: Akhona Mgijima and Charl Marais. In 2005 Aubrey MacDonald played on the wing for Eastern Province at Craven Week and was then chosen for SA Schools. After this he was recruited by Waterkloof of Pretoria.

National Representatives

1995: Hanno Dreyer (hooker), SA Schools
1999 and 2000: Denver du Plessis (scrumhalf), SA Academy
2004: Lukhanyo Nontshinga (wing), SA U/21 and Free State
2005: Aubrey MacDonald (wing), SA Schools


The highlight of the year is the Interschools match against Adelaide Gymnasium which has been a very exciting encounter over the years.

Matches between Winterberg and Adelaide Gymnasium down the years

1993: Adelaide won 18-6
1994: Winterberg won 22-6
1995: Winterberg won 22-6
1996: Adelaide won 20-17
1997: Winterberg won 20-15
1998: Winterberg won 13-0
1999: Adelaide won 0-12
2000: Winterberg won 30-17
2001: Adelaide won 12-11
2002: Adelaide won 25-15
2003: Adelaide won 18-10
2004: Adelaide won 23-7
2005: Adelaide won 13-6

PV: 24
Hoer Landbouskool Winterberg | Rugby365