The name of this small town is said to have originated in the late 1700’s when Suzanna van Aardt supplied provisions from her “Cookhouse” to transport riders waiting to be able to cross the Great Fish River. Cookhouse is sited on what was once the border between the Cape Colony and the Xhosa territories, and the area was visited and written about by early explorers such as Gordon, Sparrman, and Le Vailant.
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.
A new dimension has been added by the wind turbines now visible from the town; offering hope and employment.