The small town of Ashton is one of the few rural settlements that does not owe its existence to any church. On 27 September 1883 the Cape Parliament promulgated the Cape Central Railways Act, authorizing the construction of a railway line from Worcester via Robertson to Roodewal (Ashton). Earlier that year a company called the Cape Central Railways Limited (CCR) had been formed with the intention of building and operating the line. According to the Act, the CCR had to complete the line within three years of starting construction, which in turn had to start within one year of the Act—thus 27 September 1887. Set-backs and financial difficulties led to the railway finally reaching Ashton on 24 September 1887, with the first train scheduled on 1 October 1887.
The station was named after the first stationmaster, Mr Job Ashton, who also owned the local hotel.
By 1940, when the Langeberg Koöperasie Beperk built a fruit canning factory nearby, Ashton was little more than a loading-point for goods carried through Kogmanskloof to and from the Little Karoo. Quickly the town grew to accommodate the new industry and on 1 January 1956 received municipal status.