Settlement 1900 – 1983

Aerial view of the Maximum Security Prison
On the northern end of the village is Boundary Road which separated staff and patients of the Infirmary and those with leprosy. People with leprosy were housed north of the village. All prison structures built after 1900 were built to the north of this line. A 1931 plan of Robben Island indicates that at the time, there are about 170 buildings and structures on it. About 90 of these structures were leper compounds that were due for demolition for fear of contamination of the disease. The Church of the Good Shepherd was refurbished and re-consecrated as the Naval Church in 1942, during WW2. Other buildings constructed during the WW2 period were artillery batteries, rifle posts and other buildings were constructed in previously unoccupied areas of the Island.
Murray’s Bay Harbour on the east coast of the Island and which consists of one breakwater and a quay was built in historical phases with its major works being completed in the WW2 period. After WW2, the harbour was enlarged and the high wall that hides the view of Table Bay was built by prisoners.
The Church of the Good Shepherd.
Convicts taking passengers to the Tug on Marrays bay beach, 1900.
Construction of the airstrip in the centre of the Island started early in 1940 and was completed at the end of 1942. It comprises of two 700 meter long and 10 metre wide asphalt landing strips in a south east and south west direction and is linked to the perimeter road and the Maximum Security Prison by tracks. It forms of the WW2 period infrastructure. During the war it was used for supplies, bombers and reconnaissance aircraft and during the prison years to transport prison officials to and from the Island.
The Maximum Security Prison (MSP) was built in the 1960s by political and common law prisoners. It consisted of 4 general sections; an isolation block; a catwalk above the isolation block courtyard; a hospital; an admin section, kitchen and dining hall, five watch towers and sports fields.
The airstrip as it is today.
The completed Maximum Security Prison on Robben Island.
The Medium B Security Prison, also built in this time was used for common law prisoners and is on the northern edge of the village between Church Street and the east coast of the Island. This consisted of 3 blocks of equal width and a large hangar like structure.
The visitors centre on the edge of Murray’s Bay Harbour was used for family and lawyers non-contact visits to prisoners, with one section for prisoners separated from their visitors by plate glass and communication occurring through a sound system. After 1983 prisoners were allowed contact visits in small rooms and the room to the immediate right of the archway going towards the prison was used to house sound equipment that recorded and monitored visits.
Murray's Bay Harbour as it is today.

Tour Details


Cape Town
Light Rain
05:4019:19 SAST
Feels like: 15°C
Wind: 18km/h NW
Humidity: 90%
Pressure: 1017.27mbar
UV index: 0


South Africans
R400 per adult
R210 per child (U/18)

Non South Africans
R600 per adult
R310 per child (U/18)

Tour Times
09:00  |  11:00  |  13:00  15:00