The charming Karoo town, Cradock, is flanked by the majestic Bankberg Mountains and the fast-flowing Fish River. It is a great base from which to explore the nearby Mountain Zebra National Park, where popular activities include birding, cheetah tracking and game drives to view 3 of the Big 5, amongst other African wildlife.
Established in 1814, Cradock is a place of literary legends, war heroes and anti-Apartheid icons. However, it is best known for street level, day-to-day warmth and kindness – so typical of much of the Eastern Cape. History enthusiasts can spend time discovering the historically rich surroundings.
‘The Karoo Heartland region of the Eastern Cape is a summertime playground for foreign and domestic travellers who come in all shapes and sizes.
You’ve got your overland bikers, families looking for new and affordable destinations, groups of farm-to-farm MTB riders, lovers wanting weekend hideaways and just about anyone else with a taste for adventure and the occasional wide open space.
The frontier river town of Cradock is one of your must-do stop-overs on a journey through the Karoo Heartland.”
Chris Marais www.karoospace.co.za
Interesting Facts About Cradock
⦁ Cradock was established in 1814 and celebrated its bi-century in 2014.
⦁ The Great South African statesman and first President, Paul Kruger was christened in Cradock in 1826, in the NG Church.
⦁ A UFO was seen in the Cradock area on 5 July 1968. It was a ball of light surrounded by mist and it was spotted by someone in the Fish River district.
⦁ Cradock’s cricket ground and library are the second oldest in South Africa.
⦁ Telephones were introduced to Cradock in 1910 and automatic telephones in 1977.
⦁ Electricity was first introduced in 1914, 100 years after Cradock was established.
⦁ Afrikaans was published for the first time ever in Cradock by 26-year-old John Southward Bold, owner of the Cradock News. He published Louis Meurant’s report on the separation of the Eastern Cape from the Western Cape. The first article appeared on 4 December 1868, 3000 copies were printed, giving the Cradock News the biggest circulation of any newspaper in South Africa at the time.
⦁ Olive Schreiner, lived in Cradock, she is the first South African author to have published a book, Story of an African Farm. She, together with Karl Marx’s daughter started a worldwide feminist movement.
⦁ Cradock was the last place in South Africa where arms were laid down at the end of the South African War, four days later the Peace of Vereeniging was signed.
⦁ Victoria Manor was home to the British Sherwood Officers during the South African War. The Cellar in the hotel was used as a Boer prison during the war.
⦁ Illustrious visitors to Cradock include:Jan Smuts came to Cradock to witness a total eclipse of the sun, with Cradock being the best place to view it. He stood on a koppie on the farm sanctuary, which belonged to Bobby Millar at that time. He was scheduled to arrive at 10.00 am by aeroplane in 1942. He was conscious of security dangers so caught the train instead. He arrived at the airstrip by car, which astonished both the spectators and officials. King Edward the VIII visited the Cradock area in 1925. Formerly known as the Prince of Wales he arrived at the Cradock station and briefly addressed the crowd. His hand was bandaged because his hand was sore from shaking so many people’s hands. He became King Edward the VIII in 1936 but had to abdicate as he married Mrs Simpson who was twice divorced.
Interesting Inhabitants of Cradock
Huber W James 1883 – 1974
Huber W James 1883 – 1974 Called “Birdie” because he was an expert on birds. He discovered rare Karoo birds as well as two unknown succulent plants, which were named after him with Latin names ending in jamesis. He moved to South Africa at the age of 21 from Watford, England because of chest problems. He was a farm manager and built cement dams. He was also secretary to the Cradock Mutual Business, but it was a part time job as the bank only opened once week. Alliance building Society (later named Allied) took over the Mutual Business Society and he was appointed Branch Manager.
General Kritzinger (South Africa War)
He was referred to by the British troops as “the Gentleman”. He was a member of the deputation that toured the continents England and America to raise funds for the children of Boer forces who had suffered as a result of the war. On his return he met and married Dora Michau from Cradock. They settled on the farm “Fleurville” a few kilometres outside to the town.
Danes who settled in Cradock in the 19th Century
and made a significant contribution to the development of Cradock
⦁ Töger von Abo from Copenhagen 1813-1879. He used to live in Market Street and collected wild animals for the zoological gardens in Europe and had cages on the Town Square for the lions he sent to Europe. He owned some of the original properties in this street. He was a Justice of the Peace and a Municipal Commissioner. In the Frontier War of 1850-1853 he guaranteed the cost of fortifying the Town Hall for the protection of women and children. He persuaded his cousin Hans Naested to move to Africa.
⦁ Dr Christian August Flemmer from Kørsor 1813-1870. Arrived with his wife Betty and their seven children in 1853. They lived in a house on the site of the Annex of the Victoria Hotel. Dr. Flemmer served the community for many years and was involved in early efforts to provide better education for the children of Cradock
⦁ Hans Michael Naested from Holbæk 1827-1870. Arrived with the Flemmer party to whom he was related. He married Camilla Flemmer in 1860 and was a prominent trader and farmer in the area. For many years he served on the Town and Divisional Councils with distinction.
⦁ Carl Källund – he and his wife were early arrivals in Cradock and in 1857 he owned the land where the Olive Schreiner House now stands. For many years he was a carpenter, joiner and builder to the growing town.
Danskerne deltog i og bidrog meget til fällesskabets fremme
She lived in Butlers, one of Die Tuishuise. She was the first township nurse in Cradock and was appointed in 1927 to run a dispensary as a result of a donation from Mr Alfred Metcalf and the activities of the Cradock Woman’s Civic Association. During her ten years as township nurse she created a milk fund to combat tuberculosis especially among children and was instrumental in the formation of Pathfinders and Wayfarers – The African equivalent to boy Scouts and Girl Guides. It is reputed that she started the Quaker movement in South Africa. She is the aunt of Guy Butler.
Sir Joseph Benjamin Robinson (born in Cradock 3 August 1840)
He was the chairman of the Robinson group of mines in South Africa. He started in wool buying and farming until 1867. He accrued 20 000 acres of the Vaal River where he found diamonds. He was the Mayor of Kimberly in 1880.
Sir Abe Bailey (born in Cradock 6 April 1864)
He was a member of the legislative assembly of the former Transvaal, representing Krugersdorp. He joined the gold rush to Barberton in 1886 afterwards moving to Johannesburg where he was imprisoned for alleged involvement in the Jameson Raid.
Sir Thomas Charles Scanlen
Was the chairman of the Cradock municipality from 1869 – 1877. He later became Prime Minister and Attorney General of the Cape from 1881 – 1884. He was knighted and became Sir Thomas Scanlen. He is the son of Charles Pakenham Scanlen who led the Cradock Burghers in the Frontier war of 1846 – 1847. His house is now the Cradock Club.
James Arthur (JA) Calata, 1895 to 1983
JA Calata was the longest serving Secretary General of the ANC. He was an Anglican clergyman and African nationalist. He lived in the township of Lingelihle just outside Cradock. Although St. James Mission served a large area, Calata found time to be involved in a number of activities. He traveled all over the district and, apart from his work at Cradock, visited outstations, supervised the work of 30 lay preachers and, until 1953 when the Bantu Education Act removed authority for mission schools from the churches, he also supervised six schools. His work with young people led to Calata’s involvement with the Pathfinders ~ the African Boy Scouts. From 1933 to 1960 he took a leading role as district pathfinder master for the Eastern Cape (A 1729/B6.1). Calata was a central figure in the social and political life of the Eastern Cape. Another of his interests was the Order of St. Ntsikana, a Xhosa society dedicated to the memory of the first Christian Xhosa, which had been founded in 1912. From 1938 Calata became the president of the Order.
Calata’s political activities were rooted in his Christian faith. He was an African nationalist who desired African unity. To this end he participated in the Joint Councils of Europeans and Africans in the 1920s and 1930s. In 1930 Calata joined the African National Congress when the Cradock Vigilance Association became a branch of that organization. From 1930 to 1949 he was President of the Cape branch of the ANC. In 1935 he was elected Chaplin of the organization. When he became secretary-general, he worked with two ANC presidents ~ Z. R. Mahabane (1937 ~ 1940) and A. B. Xuma (1940 ~ 1949). Calata was instrumental in getting Xuma elected as President because he saw that Xuma would be able to attract more educated people to the movement.
Calata retired from the ministry in 1968 when his banning order expired. When he died in June 1983 5000 mourners followed his coffin which was draped with an ANC flag.
Dr. Reginald Koettlittz’s (Scott of the Antarctic’s Senior Medical Officer on his 1st Antarctic expedition)
is buried in the Cradock Cemetery.The Cradock Four, killed in 1985, contributed in a large part to the end of Apartheid.
Harry Potter’s (namesake)
grave was found in the Cradock Graveyard by Thomas Kott in 2002.
William Frederick Faulds
who ACTUALLY LIVED lived in Faulds House in Market Street. VC MC (1895 – 1950) was a South African soldier, and recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.