Cookhouse is a small village located in Eastern Cape province some 170 km north of Port Elizabeth and 25 km east of Somerset East, on the west bank of the Great Fish River, which formed the eastern boundary of the Cape Colony until 1819. The village of Cookhouse was located on the farm Roodewal and, as was common with many early colonial settlements, it was founded near a river crossing. It is said to take its name from a small stone house used for shelter and cooking by troops camping on the bank of this river. Another explanation links the name to the hot climate as experienced by the troops stationed there. It is an important railway junction.

Cookhouse has a famous railway station, once vital and bustling, and now, though still in use, a shadow of what it was in its heyday. The sense of the ghosts of the past hovering over the station, to be noted by passengers passing through has been immortalised in verse in Chris Mann’s poem, “On Cookhouse Station”.

Cookhouse has much for the history buff; the Slachter’s Nek monument, on the site of the infamous hangings, the Thomas Pringle cairn, the monument erected to commemorate the Fallen Heroes of the Struggle, and the Fairworld Fine Wool Museum, showing the history of farming and wool production in this rich farming area.

Key Statistics 2011

Total population 5,707
Young (0-14) 31%
Working Age (15-64) 63,1%
Elderly (65+) 6%
Dependency ratio 58,6
Sex ratio 94,9
Population density 112 persons/km2
No schooling aged 20+ 6,8%
Higher education aged 20+ 2,4%
Matric aged 20+ 14%
Number of households 1,518
Average household size 3,4
Female headed households 41,3%
Formal dwellings 96%
Housing owned/paying off 60,6%
Flush toilet connected to sewerage 95,2%
Weekly refuse removal 98,6%
Piped water inside dwelling 58,7%
Electricity for lighting 92,8%


Cookhouse falls under the Blue Crane Route Local Municipality is a Category B municipality situated within the Sarah Baartman District in the Eastern Cape Province. It is bordered by the Chris Hani District in the north, Sundays River Valley in the south, Amathole District and Makana in the east, and Dr Beyers Naudé in the west. It is the second-largest municipality of seven in the district, accounting for 19% of the geographical area, and is an an administrative area. The municipality is named after the South African national bird, the blue crane. Cities/Towns close to Cookhouse are Pearston, Petersburg and Somerset East.