The 'Castle' on the North Rd/Beaufort Ave koppie
A number of residents have asked about the history of this large residence that is now the 'Backpackers' Ritz'.
North Road residents from the 1930s recollect that it was fairly wild up there and the owners kept a number of lions whose roars echoed along the ridge.
While ferreting for the records is in progress, a resident in Craighall Park, Mr Alberto Bufacchi, has informed us that for some time the building was a school, the Dunkeld Preparatory School. He has lent us a copy of the prospectus of 1944.
The principal then was Mrs D Subkleve. The School is described as "being situated in beautiful, healthy surroundings, commanding an uninterrupted view of the Northern suburbs. The class rooms and dormitories are light and airy and planned on hygienic lines."
It was the aim of the School to "build up a sound character in an atmosphere of culture and refinement, and pupils are in every way encouraged to develop their own individuality."
Riding lessons could be arranged at 7/6 per lesson. The fees for Stds 4 and 5 were 10 guineas per term for day scholars. The prospectus ends with an admonishment that 'girls who are unable to do their own hair must wear it short.'
It was shortly after this that the establishment was sold to the Baron and Baroness von Oertzen, whose family was linked to Volkswagen. When the Baron died some years ago, the Baroness sold the property to the Barnes family. Prior to that, developers had hoped to convert the building into an office block - fiercely objected to by residents - and in this case the City Council upheld the objections. As the Backpackers Ritz, the building maintains a residential function.
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