We are back in South Africa again on a very hot Saturday afternoon when we drove up along the Eastern Escarpment of the Drakensberg Mountains to Pilgrim's Rest. This was site of the first great goldrush in South Africa in 1873. A man called Alec 'Wheelbarrow' Patterson discovered gold in a stream now known as Pilgrim's Creek and although he tried to keep it quiet the word soon got out and miners appeared from all points of the compass anxious to try their luck - 1500 of them by the end of that year!!. These men had some wonderful names - Yankee Dan, Black Sam, French Bob, Spanish Joe and One-Eye Spinner among them. Pilgrim's Rest must have been a pretty lively place in those days:) By 1972 the gold had run out but the village was preserved as a living museum. The top photo is mine and shows the Post Office as it is today and the lower one is a photograph of it in the 1890s with the Royal Mail coach outside. As ever clicking will enlarge my photos though sadly not the old one.
Dredzens was the general store which has been preserved as it was during the period between 1930 and 1950. I found the interior absolutely fascinating, you could buy just about anything in this place.
Looking for a new teapot or some kitchen china? Or maybe you're off on a trip and need a suitcase.........
......and if you're off on holiday better get a pretty new hat and a couple of new shirts and a panama for the man of the house! And maybe a new pair of gloves? A lady would never be seen out without gloves even in summer.
You can buy a wireless or a record player or a new bike or maybe more mundane things like Jeyes Fluid or Vim. And all those barrels - I wonder what they contained? I could have spent hours in here.
Behind the shop are the family's living quarters which are furnished in the way they would have looked during the 1940s. This is the combined living and dining room which was a decent sized area.
Steve and myself (holding Lucy) in the kitchen with the pantry in the background.
The other end of the kitchen with the old shallow stone sink. My gran had a sink like this in her scullery when I was a little girl.
The 1940s bedroom with someone's best frock hanging on the wardrobe and a photo of a soldier on the wall - a son serving overseas perhaps? Many South Africans served with the Allied Forces in WW2.
The old Garage with its vintage petrol pump now houses a small but interesting transport museum.
Among the exhibits was this fabulous 1928 Chevrolet.
Even more interesting and atmospheric was this transport wagon. These were drawn by teams of up to fourteen oxen and were the lifeblood of South Africa in the 1800s and early 1900s. The journeys were slow as the animals needed to graze for eight hours a day and also needed to rest for eight hours, the travelling was mostly done in the cooler hours of the early morning or late afternoon and they would cover around 18 miles each day.
I bought this book on my first visit to South Africa and it has strong connections with Pilgrim's Rest.Percy Fitzpatrick was a transport rider carting supplies for the goldfields at Pilgrim's Rest and Barberton from Delagoa Bay in what was then Lourenco Marques but is now known as Mozambique. Jock was his dog, a bull terrier who travelled all over what is now Mpumalanga with his master. The story is fascinating for the picture it gives of the lives of these transport riders as they travelled in what was then dangerous and often unexplored country.
Jock became so famous that there are memorials to him all over Mpumalanga where the routes he travelled cross modern roads and this includes the area that is now Kruger National Park.
This is the cemetery at Pilgrim's Rest, I'm not holding my camera at an angle, it really is this steep! Steve and Kaitlyn climbed to the top but it was so hot in the midday sun that I gave up halfway. Hannah, Lucy and Juliette didn't even come this far.
This was the original grave in the cemetery, a man was caught and convicted of tent robbery and banished from Pilgrim's Rest. He was later found on this nearby hill and shot. He was buried in a grave facing north-south branding him as a thief. Every other grave in the cemetery is oriented eat-west.
Many of the graves belong to people who were a very long way from home and at 38 George Davies was two years younger than the average person buried here. Few died peacefully in their beds - snake bite,malaria,dysentery and other diseases,drowning and accidents claimed most of the lives.
No burial records were kept until 1911 but the earliest marked grave is that of a man crushed by a boulder on his claim in 1874. There are 320 known graves but only 163 of them have headstones or markers of some sort. Most are simply marked out with stones like these in a quiet corner near the entrance.
I think there are worse places to be buried than here though with this stark but beautiful view over the Drakensberg Mountains.