The Langeberg Municipality lies within the beautiful Cape Winelands District. Covering a total area of approximately 4 517.4 km2, the Langeberg Municipality includes the towns of Robertson, Montagu, Ashton, Bonnievale and McGregor, as well as rural areas adjacent to and between these towns
The village of McGregor was laid out in 1861, the population then totaling 50. In 1894 a village management board was established and in 1907 the village became a municipality. McGregor was originally known as Lady Grey but the name was changed in 1905 to avoid confusion with Lady Grey near Aliwal North. It was renamed in honour of the Rev Andrew McGregor who had been the Dutch Reformed Church minister of the Robertson District for forty years.
With the completion of the railway line from Worcester to the coastal regions in 1887, the trading post Roodewal, became a railway station. Shortly afterwards it was renamed Ashton, in honour of Job Ashton, director and railway engineer of the New Cape Central Railways (Ltd). For several years the settlement consisted of only a railway station, warehouse, hotel, post office, butchery, a little school, one shop and a few houses. During 1939 and 1940 extraordinary growth took place with the opening of the Langeberg Co-operative, resulting in the farmland being divided into plots. Development received a further boost with the establishment of a second canning factory in 1949. In 1956 Ashton gained municipal status.
Next to the Municipal Offices of the Langeberg Municipality in the Main Road of Ashton, the steam locomotive no 2010 class 14 CR, commissioned in 1919 and used on the Worcester-Mossel Bay rail section until 1983, still proudly depicts the town’s history.
The name Bonnievale actually means Beautiful Valley. Bonnievale, also known as the valley of cheese and wine, was founded by Christopher Forrest Rigg. Rigg and his wife moved to Bonnievale in 1900. Their only surviving daughter, Mary Myrtle was born in 1903. Sadly in 1911 she contracted meningitis and on her deathbed she asked her father to build her a small church. Mary Myrtle was buried in her favourite playground, the lucerne field near her home. Rigg kept his promise and built the small Norman-style church in her memory. The date on the cornerstone is 1921, but the first Anglican service was only held in 1924. At the entrance above the main door there is a statuette in the likeness of Mary Myrtle, and in the background is a rose tree with seven roses, depicting the seven years of her life. The Mary Myrtle Rigg Church is the only church in the world known to be built at the request of a child.
Rigg was also responsible for the construction of the water channel scheme providing Bonnievale with water. Today, more than 100 years since completion, all of the east side and large sections of the west side of Bonnievale still use the water from these canals, which are much as they were when built by Rigg.
In 1902 a railway halt was constructed between Robertson and Swellendam and was called 'Vale'. In 1917, at Rigg’s request, the halt received full railway station status and the name changed to Bonnievale. In 1922 a village management board was elected. The town received full municipal status in April 1953.
Montagu, once known as "Agter Cogman's Kloof", lies between the Keisie and Klngna Rivers. The only exit to the west was through Cogman's Kloof, and strong teams of horses or oxen were needed for the journey. John Montagu, the British Secretary of the Cape Colony based in Cape Town in the 1850s, envisaged the potential of the Cape Colony, but realised that it could never develop without efficient transport and communication. Montagu was aided by pioneering road engineers to create passes through the mountain barriers. Through his efforts, the country developed agriculturally and he became a popular figure. In Tribute to him the village was officially named Montagu in 1851 and he traveled there to "baptise" the town.
It is not known when the springs were discovered, but early trekkers followed the course of rivers and some camped in the vicinity of present-day Montagu. They drank the clear, strangely-flavoured water, found it wonderfully refreshing and traced its course through the kloof to where they discovered the hot springs. News of the healing waters spread quickly and many visitors began to visit the area. The springs form part of the now popular Montagu Baths.
Robertson was founded in 1853 and named after Dr Robertson, then pastor at Swellendam.
Robertson is one of the largest wine-producing regions in the Republic and its most famous product is dry white table wine. At the local KWV distillery there are 128 stills, which makes it the largest in the world. Another important industry is the factory of Food and Nutritional Products (Pty) Ltd., which manufactures condensed milk, among other products.
Because of the area's relatively low rainfall, there is intensive irrigation. About 25 km of irrigation canals, leading from the Breede River, carry water that is pumped by electricity as far as Montagu. Robertson is South Africa's first irrigation district.
Although the rural area is in extent much larger than the urban areas, the majority of the population reside in urban areas. As the agriculture sector is currently experiencing economic difficulties, it is envisaged that more people will move to the urban areas to seek employment. The spatial implication of this is that the residential need in the towns will increase with subsequent pressure on resources such as water and energy.
Land needs to be identified for small-scale farmers. The area is characterised by low rainfall and therefore water is a fairly scarce commodity. Currently, rural and urban uses compete for this commodity.
The Keisie is currently a major fruit-producing valley. However, the rural community is amongst the poorest in the region. Another challenge for the valley is sufficient water supplies to support any further development. Because the economy of the area depends largely on agriculture people are subject to seasonal income. Living standards are lowered to a large extent during the off-season.
Problems within agriculture, such as the closure of production plants and factories, as well as surpluses in the wine industry contribute to the poverty situation. The region's potential for tourism is well known and recent studies have highlighted various options for development in this regard. It forms part of the well-known Route 62.