THE "HISTORIC EASTERN CAPE AND 1820 SETTLER COUNTRY"


1. A choice of three-day routes, all of which include Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown provide an excellent insight into the military history as well as scenic attractions of this part of the Republic of South Africa. One may either take a circular tour incorporating Port Elizabeth, Grahamstown, Bathurst and return via Port Alfred to Port Elizabeth, total distance approx ....km. On the other routes, also starting in Port Elizabeth and proceeding to Grahamstown, one may proceed either to Fort Beaufort and the interior or to Trompetters Drift Fort on the road to King Williams Town and East London. Please note that these routes provide for a full day in Port Elizabeth before proceeding to the other destinations. It is assumed that accommodation will be booked for a second night in Grahamstown in all three cases.

2. An extensive choice of accommodation exists in Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown as well as a well-situated and suitable hotel in Fort Beaufort. With the exception of Christmas and Easter school holidays it is probably not necessary to book in advance unless one requires the added peace of mind that advance booking provides.

The following hotels are suggested on the basis of both convenience and suitability.

Port Elizabeth: "The Edward Hotel", PE central; "City Lodge", "Humewood" and "Beach" hotels in Humewood. All except the "Humewood" which is less expensive, are in the approximate 3 star category.

Grahamstown: "The Settlers Motel, "suitably sited and adjacent to the 1820 Settlers Memorial on the fringe of town; the "Graham", "Cathcart Arms" and "Grand hotels" are centrally situated. All fall in the 2 star category. Both the above-mentioned towns have excellent centrally situated publicity associations which will provide further information.

Fort Beaufort : The Savoy Hotel which is conveniently located opposite the Historical Museum in Durban Street. The museum will also provides further information.

3. Whichever route is chosen commences in Port Elizabeth and chronologically speaking cover the period 1799 to 1902, starting with the construction in 1799 of Fort Frederick in Port Elizabeth. Historically, the lions share of events belongs to the 1820 British Settlers who played a major role in shaping the events of the period. By overnighting in each of the towns mentioned, the visitor will have a full day to explore each area indicated. Three days is the minimum period advised for each route but the dedicated historian or interested visitor may wish, and in fact is encouraged, to devote more time to doing justice to the Eastern Cape which has many other unique feature and scenic wonders to offer. Some of these will be mentioned in the body of the tour and as already mentioned the various publicity associations and/or municipalities will be only to willing to offer further information.

TOUR - DAY ONE : ROUTE 1 - CIRCULAR TOUR OF PORT ELIZABETH

4. This day will be devoted entirely to Port Elizabeth. As it is assumed that the visitor will leave from the overnight hotel, the starting point for convenience sake will be regarded as the Publicity Association office conveniently sited in Pleinhuis, Market Square (opposite the City Hall) . The Queen Victoria Statue in front of the Public Libary in Main Street may be taken as a landmark. The following places are within a radius of a few Kilometres and theoretically within walking distance for the active walker although most people would probably prefer to go by car.

The Campanile.

5. Although not of direct military interest it is a most conspicuous landmark and stands at the entrance to the docks and is adjacent to the Railway Station which is the end point of the main tourist bus services.

Historical Background

6. In his voyage of exploration to find a sea-route to India, the Portuguese navigator Bartholomew Diaz anchored at the nearby island of Santa Cruz (now St Croix) around 1490. Later in 1576, Manuel de Mesquita Pestrello landed in what is now Algoa Bay and named it "Baia de Lagoa" - a reference to the lagoon at the mouth of the Baakens River at which Port Elizabeth is now sited. For centuries Algoa Bay remained little more than a calling place for fresh water. Military activity at the bay commenced in 1780 when Adriaan van Jaarsveldt was appointed as "Kommandant" of a commando system to attend to the volatile Eastern Frontier. As always there were insufficient " permanent" soldiers and frontier farmers had to assist in the defence of "hearth and home". The British had occupied the Cape in 1795 and Algoa Bay started figuring in South African military history in 1797, when General Vandeleur, a British officer was sent to the Cape to take charge of the unrest situation on the Eastern frontier, erected a fort, at what is now known as Cradock Place. In order to maintain a better vigil over Algoa Bay, Vandeleur had a wooden blockhouse (constructed and shipped from Cape Town), erected at the Baakens River in 1798. By 1799 the British, fearing French support for the rebels at Graaf-Reinet, decided to build Fort Frederick on the banks of the Baakens River. (See also Fort Frederick further on). By the time the 1820 Settlers had landed in Algoa Bay, and at what is now Port Elizabeth, a settlement consisting of a small group of houses and businesses had developed.

7. The Campanile was erected in 1923 and commemorates the landing of the 1820 British Settlers who played a major role in the various frontier wars which affected their lives intermittently for decades to follow. It is 518 metres high and has a 204 step spiral stairway, the top of which provides excellent views of the city and harbour. The tower has a Carillon of 23 bells, 10 of which peal three times a day. Enquire locally for opening times.

Fort Frederick

8. From the campanile one can walk across Market Square towards the Library/Publicity Office in Main Street, up Whites Road, turn left at Belmont Terrace, proceed one block to Fort Street on which Fort Frederick, built by British soldiers and now a national moument, is located. Outside the wall is the grave of Captain Frances Evatt, commander of the fort from 1817 to 1850.

Historical background to Fort Frederick.

9. Fort Frederick, said to be the oldest British-built building south of the equator, was named in honour of the Duke of York, Commander of the British Army. Commanding a good view of the whole of Algoa Bay, its eighty foot square and nine foot high walls contained a powder magazine holding 2000 lbs of qunpowder. The heavy armament consisted of 8 twelve-pounder guns and a full complement a 350 men were housed in nearby barracks. The fort has never fired a shot in anger.

Donkin Reserve and Military Museum

10. By retracing one's steps along Belmont Terrace to the other side of White's Road the Donkin Reserve comes into view. Situated on the open grounds in front of the graciously built Edward Hotel is the Donkin Memorial, Lighthouse and Military Museum. From this vantage point excellent views over the town and harbour below are obtained.

Historical background to the Donkin Reserve.

11. Sir Rufane Donkin, Acting Governor of the Cape in 1820, built the dressed stone pyramid as a memorial to his wife Elizabeth who had died two years before in India, and after whom he named Port Elizabeth. One of the inscriptions in memory reads, "one of the most perfect of human beings who has given her name to the town below". The British Settlers arrived in the same year and Algoa Bay was the obvious choice as a starting point for their journey. As mentioned in par 6, Port Elizabeth at that stage, was no more than an "embryonic settlement" with few people to welcome them as they prepared for their journey into the interior. However, as time would tell, there were many among the group of 4000 men, women and children who would play a significant role in determining the future of the Eastern Cape and help develop South Africa. Port Elizabeth gradually became a bustling seaport and its population steadily increased, swelled by some of the Settlers who left the farms and moved back to the towns where they could practise the trades and occupations for which they had been trained. The lighthouse next to the Donkin Memorial, dates back to 1861 and for the past few years has housed the Military Museum. At the time of writing military museums in the RSA are being handed over in most cases to municipalities. Among the items of interest is a scale model of the series of signalling towers erected in the Grahamstown area between 1837 and 1846.

St Georges Park, War Memorial, Horse Memorial and Prince Alfred Guards Memorial

12. By returning to Whites Road and continuing uphill along Western Rd (into which White's has merged) for 4/5 blocks one comes to a circular intersection at which a memorial to the two World Wars is situated in Western Rd, directly opposite the entrance to St Georges Park and George VI Art Gallery. By turning right at the circle, proceeding along Rink street for a block and turning left into Cape Road, the well-known Horse Memorial will be seen on one's left. From the Horse Memorial, and continuing in the same direction for a short distance, one turns into the next street (Dickens St) at the end of which one once again faces onto St Georges Park, this time across Park Ave. Cross Park Street and it is but a short walk from there across the lawn to the magnificent Prince Alfred Guards Memorial fountain. All the abovementioned places are within walking distance for a reasonably energetic walker.

Historical Background to the St Georges Park War Memorial, Horse Memorial and Prince Alfred Guards Memorial.

13. St Georges is the oldest of Port Elizabeth's parks and is also a popular cricket venue. The War Memorial or Cenotaph at the top end of Western Rd is as previously stated in remembrance to the fallen in World Wars I and II. The sculptor was James Gardiner and the memorial was unveiled in 1929.

14. The Horse Memorial is dedicated to the horses which were killed or died during the Anglo Boer-War of 1899-1902 and is believed to be one of only two in the world dedicated entirely to the horse. It is beautifully executed and is a remarkably poignant life-size study of a kneeling British soldier offering water in a bucket to his mount. It was erected by public subscription in 1905.

15. The Prince Alfred Guards monument is an impressive creation unveiled in 1907 to honour the officers and men killed in the Transkei War of 1880-81, the Bechuana War of 1897 and the Anglo Boer war of 1899-1902. The monument, in the form of a fountain, is the middlepoint of the municipal service reservoir in the park. A life size statue of a N.C.O, clad in a uniform of the period stands at the ready on the central footpiece of the monument.

Piet Retief Memorial

16. From the Prince Alfred Guards Memorial, by proceeding along Park Ave towards and downhill to the city centre, the Market Square is again reached. Total distance thus far is approximately 5 km. From here it is necessary to go by car or bus to the Piet Retief Memorial in Summerstrand, a distance of approximately 5 - 6 km. The route is away from the city centre with the docks on your left and the City Hall on your right in the Market Square, and then along Humewood Drive into Marine Ave, hugging the coastline all the way. The memorial will be seen on the right, in front of a shopping centre.

Historical Background to Piet Retief Memorial

17. Piet Retief is best known as a famous Voortrekker leader. However, he was active in Eastern Cape Community affairs prior to that as a farmer and businessman. He was also involved with the construction of the Military Barracks in Grahamstown. Some of the houses built, or owned by him, still exist intact. Many places bear his name as well as the town of Piet Retief in Natal. It was in Natal that he and his band of men were murdered by Dingaan in February 1838. His famous 'manifesto' is an indictment against the government of the day about conditions in the Cape and gives his reasons for leaving the territory.

The monument was first erected during the Voortrekker Centenarary Celebrations in 1938 on the Port Elizabeth-Addo road at the spot from which the Voortrekkers are understood to have left from on their trek to the interior. It was re-erected in 1976 at its present site in Summerstrand which was once Retiefs farm 'Strandfontein'.

Note : The Port Elizabeth route, as in the other routes, takes in what is regarded as the most important and readily accessible places of military historical interest. The Voortrekkers, like the Settlers, were basically farmers but were well armed so as to defend themselves. They also employed the "Kommando" system. Military tactics were often used as in the case of Blood River (see Route Three - "The Zulu War") under the command of the Voortrekker leader, Commandant-General Andries Pretorius.

THE TOUR - DAY TWO - GRAHAMSTOWN

18. Grahamstown lies 130 km north-east of Port Elizabeth on the N2, the road is tarred and clearly signposted all the way. Once one gets beyond the outer reaches of Port Elizabeth after passing Colchester, the road passes through pleasant undulating farming countryside. There is nothing of particular military importance en route but once one reaches Grahamstown, this aspect changes dramatically. On reaching the immediate outskirts of the town the 1820 Settler Monument building atop Gunfire Hill dominates the scene. The entrance on the left is clearly marked.

The 1820 Settlers National Monument.

19. This is a "living" memorial in the form of a magnificent multi-storey building which, from its position in the Wild Flower Reserve above the Botanical Gardens, commands sweeping views of the city and surrounding Eastern Cape countryside. Completed in 1974, it is the home of the 1820 Foundation, which is best known for organising the annual Standard Bank National Arts Festival, although the theatre, lecture halls, art gallery, restaurant and conference facilities are in use throughout the year. The "Settlers Inn" motel is adjacent to the monument, 1 km from the centre of Grahamstown.

Fort Selwyn, Gunfire Hill

20. Of great historic military significance is Fort Selwyn (opposite the entrance to the 1820 Settler Monument) which was the focal point of a signal communications system introduced around 1836. It is a star shaped fort with a battery of guns and houses a military museum. At the time of writing, the museum was closed through lack of funds but the fort itself may be freely entered.

Historical background to Grahamstown and Fort Selwyn

21. Grahamstown is a town of considerable character known today for its churches, educational institutions (Rhodes university and top class schools) and museums amongst other attributes. It is steeped in history going back to January 1812 when Sir John Cradock, Governor of the Cape, decided to take stringent measures to counteract the destructive Xhosa raids on homesteads and border posts on the Eastern border. Col John Graham was ordered to clear the Zuluveld area, restore the boundary to the Great Fish River and establish a military headguarters there. The latter was done on the abandoned farm "De Rietfontein" which was then proclaimed Grahams Town. In 1820 when the British Settlers arrived, Grahamstown was merely a small settlement of 12 houses. Environmental circumstances had a strong influence on the architectural style which subsequently evolved. This accounts for the fortress-like character of many farm buildings as well as the simple and sturdily built Georgian town houses. Approximately 3 years after the arrival of the Settlers, when successive crops had failed, many of these resourceful pioneers settled in the town itself and the once purely military post developed into a thriving trading centre. By 1831 Grahamstown had become the principal town of the Eastern Province and was second only in importance to Cape Town in the Cape Colony as a whole.

Fort selwyn

22. Fort Selwyn was planned during 1835/36 as part of the Cape Colony Military defences and was built under the supervision of Major C.J. Selwyn. In 1837 Lt Col Lewis recommended that communication with Forts Beaufort and Peddie be improved by a series of signal towers based on Fort Selwyn. This was to be achieved by utilising a series of towers which would relay signals by means of a semaphore ie a signalling mast mounted on the 30 metre high stone towers. Their purpose was to signal to each other and to soldiers at the Fish River drifts the news of cattle theft or raids by the 'native' tribes. These posts were to be built no further apart from each other than for signals to be read employing telescopes and consisted of the Beaufort Line and the Peddie Line. The "key" position was to be Governors Kop, nine miles east of Grahamstown, as it had excellent views of the surrounding countryside. Thus the Beaufort line was from Fort Selwyn via Governors Kop to Graskop, Botha's Post, Dan's Hoogte and Fort Beaufort, whilst the Peddie Line was from Fort Selwyn via Governor's Kop to Frasers Camp, Piet Appell Tower to Fort Peddie. Ironically the system did not prove successful owing to mist and other problems. However, many of these signal towers are still remarkably intact and remain as a monument to the efforts of those who designed and built them and the men who manned them. Fort Selwyn was used as an artillery barracks until 1870.

Rhodes University Grounds

23. Grahamstown, as has been pointed out, started up as a military outpost and consequently the settlement grew up around the barracks which together with other military structures are contained within or adjacent to the grounds of Rhodes University. To reach the university, return to the N2 bypass from the Settlers Monument, turn left and left again to enter the city at Grey Street. Turn left again at Somerset Street, carry on one block and the Drostdy Gate flanked by 2 Guardhouses will be found just beyond the Abany Museum on the left between Lucas Ave and Artillery Rd. Total distance approx 2 km.

Places of interest within or adjacent to the Rhodes University Grounds

24. The Drostdy Gate is the main entrance to the grounds and as the following places of interest are all within or adjacent to these, one can ask around for directions to the Drostdy Gate, Drostdy Barracks, Old Military Hospital and Royal Engineers building. The Old Provost is next to Lucas Rd bordering on the university grounds.

Historical Background to Drostdy Gate, Drostdy Barracks, Old Military Hospital, Royal Engineers Building and Old Provost.

25. The Drostdy Gate is now as it was then the main entrance to the grounds. Designed by Major C.J. Selwyn in 1835 it was built by the Royal Engineers in 1841, and declared a national monument in 1940.

26. The Drostdy Barracks, Old Military Hospital and Royal Engineers Building are all within Rhodes University grounds and in excellent condition though now obviously used for different purposes by the University. The Drostdy Barracks now forms part of the Department of Linguistics and English Language for instance.

27. The nearby Old Provost is another striking building which formed part of the Military establishment. Built by Order of Sir Benjamin D' Urban it was built during the years 1836 to 1838 and declared a national monument in 1937. It is a peculiarly shaped building based on Jeremy Bentham's eighteenth century panoptican system for the "ceaseless surveilance of prisoners"

28. The Bible Monument and Military Base. Leave the University by the Drostdy gates and continue along Somerset Street for 2 blocks, turning half left into Cradock Rd to the outskirts of town, turning left just beyond the powerlines. Turn sharp right immediately and the Bible Monument will be seen on the left. This monument well deserves a visit as the inscriptions and plaque are quite moving.

29. Historical Background to the Bible Monument This monument, also known as the Friendship Monument, commemorates an incident in 1837 when a group of British Settlers presented a bible to express their esteem to a group of Voortrekkers preparing to trek north.

30. Cathedral of St George and St Michael and Church Square

Return the same way as far as the Drostdy Gate, turning left into High Street and continue 4 blocks to Church Square where the magnificent old cathedral building dominates the scene. The City Hall and publicity bureau, as well as other constructions such as the Methodist Commemoration Church and winged figure of Peace, are all grouped together here. The winged figure of Peace is dedicated to the men of the Albany District who died in the Anglo Boer-War of 1899-1902, with an inscription written specially by Rudyard Kipling. For visitors with interests other than military history there is much else to be found in Grahamstown, such as other gracious church buildings, excellent museums and famous schools, to name but a few.

Note: As stated at the outset of this tour, Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown take up the first two days. From Grahamstown there are three options viz :

i. Fort Beaufort to the north

ii. Trompetters Drift to the east and

iii. Bathurst and Port Alfred as part of the circular tour back to Port Elizabeth.

THE TOUR - DAY THREE - FORT BEAUFORT

31. The 80 km scenic drive from Grahamstown on the R67 to Fort Beaufort provides distant views of striking mountain ranges such as the Great Winterberg, Katberg, Hogsback and the Amatola range. From the bypass exit from Grahamstown travel for approx 8km on the N2 towards King Williamstown. Turn left onto the R67 (prominently signposted) and traverse the picturesque Ecca Pass to Fort Brown, a further 21 km. The Fort Brown tower which has been incorporated into the present day S.A. Police station is in excellent condition. It is right next to the road on the right hand side and is well worth a visit.

NOTE : Fort Double Drift may be reached from Fort Brown but as a visit there merits at least half a day it has not been included in this route. However for those having the interest and time a visit can prove most rewarding. The return trip from Fort Brown to Double Drift and back is approximately 44 km most of which is on a rough but otherwise good gravel surface. It is necessary to go through the Andries Vosloo Kudu Reserve (entrance gate approx 5 km from Fort Brown on the Grahamstown road) and call at the office there before entering the Reserve. Bucklands Fortified Farmhouse is 8 km from the entrance gate and Double Drift Fort and picnic sites on the Fish River a further 10 km on. Fort Beaufort is a further 51 km on from Fort Brown on the R67. On entering the town turn right into Grahamstown Road across the Kat River and immediately left into Durban St. Carry on for 3 blocks and the Savoy Hotel will be seen on the right. Diagonally opposite the Savoy on the T-junction at Durban and Henrietta Streets is the Historic Museum.

Historical Background to Fort Beaufort

32. Fort Beaufort, as in the case of Grahamstown and other Eastern Cape towns, was originally a military post and seen from this aspect of great historical interest. It was established in 1822 at the confluence of the Kat and Brak rivers by Lt Col H.M Scott of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and was named in honour of the 5th Duke of Beaufort, father of Lord Charles Somerset, then Governor of the Cape. The town and its surroundings offer a nostalgic contact with the dramatic life of early border conflicts.

Historical Museum and Officers Mess, Old Military Barracks, Military Cemetary, Martello Tower, Military Museum and Former Military Hospital.

33. A circular tour of all the abovementioned places encompassing about 10 adjoining street blocks and only a few Kilometres would take between a half and full day, depending on the amount of time devoted to browsing. Two of these are museums which consume time in relation to one's degree of interest.

34. Use the Historical Museum in Durban Street as both a source of information and starting point. (Refreshments and light meals may also be obtained here). Proceed eastwards along Durban Street past a double storey apartment building called Emgwenyeni Flats. (see note in next paragraph). Carry on to the next street (Somerset) on the opposite corner of which is a large complex of buildings which formed the old Military Barracks. From here proceed northwards along Somerset Street turning right at the next street (Lorenzo) and right again at the second turn-off which is the entrance to the Military Cemetery. Retrace your steps into Somerset Street, cross Durban St, first right into Campbell St, first left into Barrack St and left again into Bell Street. The Martello Tower and Military Museum together with various World War II armaments are immediately visible in this attractive garden complex. These should not be missed as they are of considerable interest, but arrangements should first be made with the Historic Museum in Durban Street to obtain entrance to the premises. Diagonally across the road at the T-junction formed by Barracks and Bell Street, is the old Military Hospital. Permission to visit should be obtained at the existing hospital in front.

Historical Background to Historical Museum and Officers Mess, Old Military Barracks, Military Cemetery, Martello Tower, Military Museum and Former Military Hospital.

35. The Historical Museum, also a proclaimed National Monument, was erected about 1830 and served as an Officers Mess for nearly half a century until it was ceded to the Cape Government in 1882. Thereafter it housed a school and has been a museum since 1938. Although most of the exhibits are of general historic interest there is also the old 45th Milestone which stood on the old military road connecting Grahamstown with the Winterberg via a chain of forts, outposts and bridges. The work was planned and carried out under the command of Maj C.J. Selwyn of the Royal Engineers and also represented the first venture in road- and bridge building by the now famous Andrew Geddes Bain.

36. On the way to the Old Military Barracks the Emgwenyeni Flats (as indicated in par 33) are of interest in that the existing premises originally housed Mr Charles Holliday's shop. It was from this shop that an axe was stolen in 1846. Events stemming from this proved to be the flashpoint which triggered off the War of the AXE (1846/8). The enormous Old Barracks complex would have been (as it still is, though standing empty) a striking sight in its hey-day when up to 2000 troops were quartered here. It is said to have been the largest of its type in the Southern Hemisphere at the time. Fort Beaufort was then the centre of logistic support.

37. The Military Museum is an attractive double storied building in which the exhibits are tastefully displayed. These cover a wide period of South African military history including sections devoted to the frontier wars of the period under discussion. There is a finely detailed large scale model of the various frontier forts, posts and towns of the period which provides an excellent perspective of their function. A fine display of paintings portraying many of these together with several of the fortified farmhouses graces the surrounding walls of the chamber housing the model.

Victoria Bridge

38. The circular tour of Fort Beaufort may be rounded off by a visit to the Victoria Bridge which is reached by proceeding down Grahamstown Road (at the entrance to the town as described in par 31) turning left into Campbell Street and then into the first street right where the bridge will be seen over the Kat River.

39. The Victoria Bridge is a proclaimed National Monument. The foundation stone was laid by Lady Napier in 1840. Built by the Royal Engineers, supervised by Maj C.J. Selwyn and the famous Andrew Geddes Bain, this is the oldest triple-arch stone bridge in the country.

40. The Military Cemetery contains the graves of many of those killed in the Frontier Wars as well as those of early local residents. A recently unveiled granite monument lists the names and dates of those killed, their regiments and other details. It is a moving tribute to the many soldiers who gave their lives in service to the then British Empire. The family burial plot of the Holliday family (see above for reference to Charles Holliday and the War of the Axe) is nearby. A recent grave in the vicinity is that of 33 year old Dave Berry of the Rhodesian Special Air Service, killed in action on 18.08.1982.

41. Of prime military history significance are the Martello Tower and Military Museum, both National Monuments. The Martello Tower is one of two such towers in South Africa (the other being in Simons Town).It is similar to those built previously in the South of England and is based on a Corsican design. It is a round tower of ashlar masonry, with ground and first floors and a flat roof with a parapet. There is a howitzer mounted on a traversing platform on the roof. The entire tower and armament are in excellent condition having been recently renovated.

Additional Routes Places of Interest

From Fort Beaufort (Retiefs Post and the old Katberg Pass)

42. The remains of the old military stronghold, Post Retief, are situated approximately 45 km (there are two routes) north of Fort Beaufort. Sir Benjamin d'Urban named it in honour of Piet Retief, the Voortrekker leader, on whose farm it was built. The post was designed by Maj C.J. Selwyn, and building was commenced in 1836.

43. The Post was heavily invested by a large force of rebel Hottentots in February 1851 when it was crowded with refugees, their animals and household possessions. For four days it was cut off from all supplies of food and water, then it was relieved by a commando of 130 burghers and 140 Fingos under Capt Ayliff, W.M. Bowker and Dods Pringle. It is a proclaimed National Monument. Close by the post, set in the beautiful Winterberg are the remains of Piet Retief's farmhouse. The post, parts of which are used as barnhouses is generally well preserved and well worth a visit as it is extensive. An additional factor is that some of the most beautiful scenery in the Eastern Cape is traversed en route particularly if one also takes the magnificent Katberg Hotel and Old Katberg Pass into account. For convenience sake as well as for additional comfort, it is recommended that one overnights at this hotel.

44. The most practical route is perhaps to go to the hotel first as it is well signposted on the R67 from Fort Beaufort. To get to Retief's Post one would then go up the Old Katberg Pass. Alternatively one would take the Blinkwater turnoff (also on the R67) and go through the Mpafa Reserve to Retief's Post and then to the hotel down the Old Katberg Pass.

45. Warning. As the roads are not always well signposted and rough in parts, care should be taken in negotiating them. For the same reason one could take the wrong turoff and it would be wise to first obtain a pamphlet from the Protea Hotels Group regarding the Katberg Hotel route or to consult the Fort Beaufort Historical Museum before going to Retief's Post.

From Grahamstown

46. There are two main choices of additional places of interest. The first and more important from a military history point of view is the Governor's Kop Signal Tower/Fraser's Camp Signal Tower/Trompetter's Drift Fort route. From Trompetter's Drift one can carry on to King Williams Town (at which Fort Murray is located - enquire from the King Williams Town municipality office) and East London. All the above are reached off the N2 to King Williams Town/East London). Gravel roads are minimal and in good condition.

47. Governor's Kop Signal Tower was of key importance in the communications system described earlier in paragraph 22. It was at the function between the Fort Beaufort and Peddie Lines and was the common link between these and Fort Selwyn. It is situated on the left (about 8 Km from Grahamstown) on the way to Fraser's Signal Post, which is approximately 45 Km from Grahamstown, and Trompetter's Drift a further 15 Km on. Both Fraser's Post (on the right) and Trompetter's Drift Fort on the left are signposted, but care should be taken when going to Fraser's Signal Post as the signpost off the tarred road is difficult to spot. Both are between 1 and 2 Km off the main road. Fraser's Camp Watch Tower is a national monument and was built in 1835.

48. Trompetter's Drift Fort is situated on the farm of Mr A.G. Willows. Although it is a national monument it is suggested that Mr Willows' privacy be respected. The fort is in good condition, the tower having been recently renovated. Though the tower was completed in 1843 a nearby site was used as a military post from as early as 1817. The name is derived from a Khoikhoi (Hottentot) Kaptein whose kraal was nearby. During the Sixth Frontier War of 1834-35 a large Xhosa force massed across the Fish River (which the Fort overlooks) and as the white traders fled to the safety of Grahamstown, Sir Harry Smith used Trompetter's Drift as his temporary headquarters (the fort had not yet been built). From here he launched an invasion into Xhosa territory with devastating effect.

49. Next to the road passing the Fort is a stone commemorating Dick King's epic ride and in the ground sloping down from the farmhouse to the Fish River, is a garden of remembrance on which a statue is placed: "In remembrance of British and Colonial Soldiers and Settlers who died during the Frontier Wars 1834 - 1852."

50. The second alternative route from Grahamstown takes in Bathurst and Port Alfred. This is considered to be the heart of 1820 Settler Country. Although less significant as far as relics of military history is concerned, the area is rich in settler history of which many outstanding examples are to be seen. Bathurst is of prime interest in this regard and has an irresistable old world village charm which is rare in this day and age. The "Pig and Whistle Hotel" is the oldest in the territory.

51. Port Alfred is a most attractive seaside town built as a deepsea harbour around the mouth of the Kowie River and now due to silting functioning as a holiday resort. It boasts of several fine hotels of which the recently opened "Halyards" has beautiful views over the river and town. There are many other accommodation facilities and the Publicity Bureau should be contacted for further details.

52. Bathurst is on the R343, ...Km south of Grahamstown, and Port Alfred is ...Km further on. There is an excellent example of a settler's church 2 kms from Port Alfred on the coastal road to the Fish River (Casino, etc) and East London further on. The Cuyterville Settler's church and cemetary (in whom a Black Watch soldier is buried) are well north a visit and are 25 kms further on.

Historical background to Bathurst, Port Alfred and Cuyterville Settler's Church

53. Bathurst was authorised as the administrative centre as a settlement by the Acting Governor, Sir Rufane Donkin in 1820. It was named in honour of Lord Bathurst, the Colonial Secretary at the time. It lies in the heart of settler country and a unique feature to be seen on entering the town from Grahamstown (approximately 43 Km away on the R67 road) is the Toposcope. This marks the spot where the 1820 settlers locations were surveyed. In fact there are 57 bronze plaques on each of which is recorded the name of the leader of the party, the number of its members, the country from which they originated, the name of the ship on which they sailed, the distance in miles from the toposcope of the location in which they settled and an arrow indicating the direction in which it lay.

54. Other historic places of interest, in Bathurst all lie within a radius of a few kms and include:

a. The Pig and Whistle Hotel which dates back to 1831.

b. The Powder Magazine. A stone structure with a domed ceiling erected by the military in 1821. It is all that remains of an extensive military base.

c. St Johns Anglican Church. The oldest unaltered Anglican Church in South Africa. It was used as a sanctuary in the Frontier Wars of 1834, 1846 and 1851.

d. The Wesleyan Chapel, a national monument opened in 1832 and beseiged in the Frontier Wars.

e. Bradshaw's Mill, a national monument built in 1821 and home of the wool industry in the RSA.

f. Summerhill Farm. Part of a farm allocated to the 1820 settler Charles Crause. The original 1825 homestead (evidence of fortification visible) has been restored and houses the Packshed Pub. Currently used for family entertainment it is clearly marked on the Port Alfred Road by a giant 3 storey pineapple in the grounds.

55. Further information on both Bathurst and Port Alfred is available from the Port Alfred Publicity Association, Market Buildings, PO Box 63, Port Alfred 6170. Tel (0464)41235.

56. An excellent descriptive pamphlet on Bathurst has also been issued by the Pig and Whistle Hotel, PO Box 7324, East London 5200, Tel (0431)53273.

57. Port Alfred is a thriving seaside resort and residential town situated on the east and west banks of the attractive Kowie River. It is 58 Km from Grahamstown on the same R67 route as Bathurst.

58. The first parties of 1820 settlers travelled from Algoa Bay by way of the coastal route from Addo via Alexandria to Port Alfred. Named Port Kowie in 1821, Port Frances in 1825 and finally Port Alfred in 1860 in honour of Prince Alfred the second son of Queen Victoria who visited the Cape (but not Kowie) in that year. It was at one time a thriving seaport but construction of the breakwaters led to silting of the month and the port was abandoned.

59. The Settler's Church is on the left of Bathurst Street on the East London coastal road, 2 Km from Port Alfred and opposite the BP Garage. The church was opened in 1827 after having been built by James and Alexander McPhail, two 1830 Settlers from Edinburgh. The first service was preached by the Rev William Shaw. The church was burnt out on 25 December 1834 during the Sixth Frontier War. It was rebuilt and re-opened in November 1840 when the Rev Shaw again preached the first sermon. Six years later on 1 May 1846, during the War of the Axe, the church was again burnt down. Restored in 1850 it housed a refugee family in 1900-1901 during the Anglo Boer War. It was gazetted a full National Monument in 1974 and is in very good condition. The adjoining cemetary, contains apart from those of early settlers the 6 graves of servicemen from the Second World War.

60. Carry on for approximately 19 Km along the same road and the turn off to the Cuyterville Church is seen on the left (Great Fish Lighthouse to the right). The church is approximately 8 Km further on down a well signposted gravel road.

61. Among those who travelled on "The Chapman", the first ship to discharge Brittish Settlers at Algoa Bay were the members of Lt John Bailie's party. Travelling in a convoy of 96 wagons and 400 settlers conducted by Col Jacob Cuyter, they reached this location 13 days later.

62. Be careful not to miss the cemetary, 1/2 Km beyond the church, which apart from Settler graves contains that of a Black Watch soldier. The interior of the fascinating Lych-gate contains granite tablets in memory of "the brave men who defended the laager during the wars". The tablets also list their names, several of which are well known surnames in South Africa today.

63. Note: From the Cuyterville Settler Church and cemetary one may now proceed along the coastal route to East London (150 Km from Port Alfred). For those interested the Fish River Sun Casino and Hotel lie 28 Km from Port Alfred along this route.

64. For those wishing to return to Port Elizabeth and make it a circular tour the route back is via Kenton on Sea and Alexandria, a distance of approximately 150 Km from Port Alfred.

65. Although there are no further places of military historic interest on this route, the Diaz Memorial Cross at Kwaaihoek is of historical interest. The singposted turnoff to the left, is near Alexandria. There is a 4 Km beach walk from the parking area to a replica of the "padrao" planted by Batholomeu Diaz in 1488. The original Diaz Cross is in the University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg).

Home Page | Tours | Links | Newsletter | Arts

]