ID #2369

Historic Pilgrim’s Rest, Escarpment, Mpumalanga.

o    Printing Museum. Not to be confused with a shop of a similar name, this museum is housed in a building that was originally a private residence constructed in the late 19th century. The first printed newspaper to be circulated on the goldfields was the “Gold News” on January 24 1874 that became the “Goldfields Mercury” shortly afterwards. In 1910 the “Pilgrim’s and Sabie News” was published every Saturday from the premises. The premises were destroyed in a fire between 1916 and 1919, when the printing works was moved to the present site. JJ McNally took over the newspaper in 1919 and it continued to be published until the late 1940’s.
o    Methodist Church. The Methodist Church established a ministry in Pilgrim’s Rest in 1874 to cater to the spiritual needs of the diggers. The Reverend J Good was appointed in 1910. He recorded that the first Methodist Church to be erected was “sent out in sections from England in 1895, and was used as a stable in the Boer War”. The original church was demolished in 1911 after a suicide in the building. The foundation stone of the existing church was laid on October 14 1911. The minister continued to live in Pilgrim’s Rest until 1956.
o    Drezden Shop and House Museum. The devaluation of the British pound in 1932 led to a sharp rise in the gold price, stimulating the economic growth of the village. During the 1930’s there were 16 general dealers in Pilgrim’s Rest, in addition to butcheries, bakeries, blacksmith shops, etc. The museum is typical of a typical general dealer store in 1030-1950, and the home and lifestyle of the post-Second World War years can be seen in the owner’s residence adjoining the shop.
o    It was on the berg that I first saw what a first class man can do…Old Charlie Robberts came along with his two waggons. To us it seemed madness to attempt with 18 oxen a harder task than we were essaying with thirty. We were halfway up when we saw old Charlie coming along steadily and without any fuss at all… in another ten minutes he and his stalwarts had left us behind…We buried him a week later. The cold clear air at the top of the berg that night brought out the fever. It was his last trek. Jock of the Bushveld, Sir Percy Fitzpatrick.
o    Cemetery Hill. Of the 320 graves in the cemetery, only 163 are marked with headstones. The “Robbers Grave” lies north-south to mark this tent robber as unmourned, having been buried after he was shot. A day or so later there were two more deaths in the camp. More graves were dug nearby and so -- unplanned – the cemetery grew. The oldest grave is that of Bazett Jervis Jenkins, who died on June 12, 1874 when he was crushed on his claim by a large boulder. Drowning, snakebite, pneumonia, dysentery, particularly amongst the children, took its toll of the cosmopolitan diggers population.

Lydenburg is on the R540 northeast of Belfast, which is on the N4 east of Middelburg, which is at the intersection of the N4 with the N11. Travel north from Lydenburg on the R36 towards Ohrigstad. Turn east off the R36 onto the R533 and travel to Pilgrim’s Rest.  AIHistoric

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Last update: 2011-01-03 17:51
Author: Alan McIver
Revision: 1.2

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