This building, formerly known as the Government Garden House, and later as the Commandant's House. The land on which this property is situated, originally formed part of the Dutch East India Company’s “Groot Tuin”. The “Groot Tuin” was first established in March 1743 and formed an integral part of Baron Van Imhoff’s plan for the development of Simon’s Bay as a base for the ships of the Company during the Winter. One of the first essentials for such a base would be plentiful and easily accessible supply of fresh vegetables and meat.

By the end of 1792 the Company was in financial difficulties and as one of its measures to effect economies, the Company leased this property to a Resident at Simon’s Bay, Christoffel Brand. Apart from his official duties, Brand conducted an extensive business in supplying -anchors, cables, ropes, canvas and other stores to visiting ships for his own private profit. Being owned by the Government, the property was requisitioned by the British Forces, under the comand of Rear Admiral G.K. Elphinstone and Major-General James Craig, when they first occupied the Cape in 1795. On 22 November of that year General Craig who. was acting as Governor instructed Mr J . P. Baungardt the Collector of Land Revenue, to advertise the Public Gardens at Simon’ s Town and beyond for hire in the same manner as the Gardens in Cape Town, adhering to such regulations as he may judge proper but annihileting any particular privilege or monnopoly. This lease was granted to Mr. Donald Trail from 1 January 1798. He had been master of the flagship H.M.S. Monnarch, but was appointed by Admiral Elphinstone to the office of Master Attendant of the Dockyard and Harbour Master. As soon as he had moved in at the beginning of January 1796 he started to put the dwelling- house in a habitable state. He put up wooden ceilings in the hall and front rooms and laid down paving stones on all the floors. The roofs of the house and stable were re-thatched and several new windows put in. He also installed a staircase, while all the walls of the house were repaired and the roof plastered and the whole whitewashed.
On 22 December 1787, the Colonial Secretary, Mr A. Barnard, gave orders that Mr Trail was to be warned that his lease would, not be renewed after the end of the year. Trail had to accept the notice with good grace, while admitting at the same time as large an account as he dared for all the improvements he had made to the house during the two years of his tenancy.
On January 1798 the property was leased to Captain Donald Campbell had been Agent of Transports and Prisoners of War, until he was appointed Harbour Master at Simon’s Bay. The lease for a period of two years. He gave up possession in the year 1800. At the end of the First British Occupation in 1803, the property with all the other Government property was presumably handed over to the Batavian Republic. In 1806 when the British Occupied the Cape for the second time, the property was requisitioned by the Military authorities. In February 1808 Major Thomas Austen, Commondant at Simon’s Town, occupied the house. Later in the same month the house was offered to Lieu. Colonel Kelly, who declined the offer as the house required more repairs than an individual could undertake before it would be habitable. He submitted a list of defects. On receipt of this disturbing list the Deputy Colonial Secretary, Lieut. Colonel Christopher Bird, promptly instructed Louis Michel Thibault, the then Inspector of Government Buildings, to prepare an estimate of the cost of all this work. Thibault submitted his report on 2 April 1808, pointing out that the main house required 10 square feet of new ceiling, 224 sq. feet of plaster on the roof an .200 sq. feet on the outside walls. The roofs of the “Pigeon House” and the “Buttery” only needed superficial’ patching, but the stable needed 33 new panes of glass, The biggest individual item was the thatching of the Guard House - at an estimated cost of 125 Rix-dollars. The estimated cost of the whole of the, including the thatching was 434 Rix-dollars 2.
Geolocation
-34° 11' 42.0073", 18° 26' 34.9248"
Further Reading
www.sahistory.org.za/article/batavian-republic-1803-1806
www.sahistory.org.za/.../dutch-and-british-coastal-fortifications-cape-good- hope-1665-1829
www.sahistory.org.za/.../general-south-african-history-timeline-1700s