Cradock, Eastern Cape
|• Total||125.96 km2 (48.63 sq mi)|
|• Density||290/km2 (750/sq mi)|
|Racial makeup (2011)|
|• Black African||61.8%|
|First languages (2011)|
|Postal code (street)||5880|
Cradock is a town in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, in the upper valley of the Great Fish River, 250 kilometres (160 mi) by road northeast of Port Elizabeth. The town is the administrative seat of the Inxuba Yethemba Local Municipality in the Chris Hani District of the Eastern Cape. The estimated population in 2015 was 35,000.
For thousands of years San hunter-gatherers were the sole human inhabitants of southern Africa. About 2000 years BP the semi-nomadic Khoikhoi (or Khoekhoen or Khoikhoin) arrived with cattle, sheep and goats. These pastoralists migrated south towards the coast. Rock paintings and petroglyphs (engravings) remain as evidence of the first people who lived here.
By the 4th century AD Bantu-speaking people had begun to migrate from central Africa down the east coast into southern Africa. The amaXhosa pressed further south to the banks of the Great Fish River where they met San hunter-gatherers and Khoikhoi pastoralists, and later still Dutch and then British settlers.
The district of which Cradock is now the centre was first settled by Dutch farmers in the late 18th century, but was known long before to the hunters who illicitly crossed the frontier in search of game and ivory.
The first official Dutch expedition to the upper Great Fish River was in mid-1752 when a party led by Ensign August Frederik Beutler visited the area. Beutler, following the instructions of Governor Ryk Tulbagh to investigate the possibilities of developing the Cape's eastern regions, was accompanied by a number of other officials including a diarist, Carl Haupt, and a surveyor, Carl Wentzel, who drew a map of the route taken. Almost the only mention made about the area in the diary was that it was very dry and forage was unobtainable.
Forty five years later traveller Sir John Barrow crossed the Great Fish River. At his crossing point he noted on his map the existence beside the river of "Hepatic wells" - sulphur springs. In later years the springs were to be used for wool washing and the town's laundry.
... After the war of 1811-12, it became apparent that to maintain order along the frontier more administrative and military posts would have to be established along the Great Fish River. The district of Graaff-Reinet was too large to administer properly and the town itself too far from the river, so it was decided to set up a new sub-drostdy, and in June 1812 Ensign Andries Stockenstrom was appointed deputy landdrost. Piet van Heerden's farm Buffels Kloof beside the Great Fish River was bought for 3 500 rix dollars. One of the advantages of the purchase was that Van Heerden's stone-walled house farmhouse could serve as a prison, the first and apparently most important requirement of any town. The house also provided accommodation for a constable and two policemen.
The official proclamation appeared in the Cape Town Gazette on 21 January 1814. Sir John Cradock sanctioned an expenditure of 12 000 rixdollars on public buildings and work began at once on a house for the deputy landdrost. In addition he was allowed a farm to "render his positionas comfortable and respectable as possible". The farm chosen was Driefontein, that of Piet van Heerden's brother, W J van Heerden.
In July 1817 the Reverend John Evans was appointed as first minister and he set about raising funds for a church. With minister, deputy landdrost, constable and policmen, the inhabitants could consider their tiny village well on the way to being a "town".
The Cape Colony received a degree of independence in 1872 when "Responsible Government" was declared and, in 1877, the government of Prime Minister John Molteno sanctioned construction of a railway line connecting Port Elizabeth on the coast with the hinterland. Passing as it did through Cradock it led to significant growth and economic development in and around the town.
In the early 1900s, a boom in demand for ostrich feathers led to a massive rise in prosperity for the local ostrich farmers.
The Cradock Four
The Cradock Four — Matthew Goniwe, Sparrow Mkhonto, Fort Calata and Sicelo Mhlauli — were abducted while travelling from Port Elizabeth to Cradock in 1985. They were then taken to Olifantshoek Pass and later to Port Elizabeth, where they were assaulted, killed and their bodies and the vehicle in which they were travelling burnt on 27 June 1985.
Economy and tourism
Of enormous importance to the economic development of Cradock was the construction of the Orange-Fish River Tunnel. Completed in 1975 and 83 km (52 mi) in length it diverts water from the Gariep Dam on the Orange River to the Great Fish River and then on as far as the Addo Valley, Grahamstown and Port Elizabeth for irrigation, household and industrial use.
The construction of the tunnel also made possible the annual Fish River Canoe Marathon. From humble beginnings in 1982 the two-day, 80 km (50 mi) event now attracts in excess of 1 500 paddlers from around the world.
A notable attraction is the Mountain Zebra National Park just 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) from the town, where the once-endangered zebra species together with lion, cheetah, buffalo and a range of antelope species are to be seen in magnificent surroundings.
Notable attractions in the town are the "tuishuise" (at-home houses), superbly restored Victorian era craftsmen's houses in Market Street which form part of the Victoria Manor Hotel; the Dutch Reformed Moederkerk which dates back to 1868 and was designed after the style of St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square, London; and Schreiner House where the renowned author of The Story of an African Farm lived as a young girl. The house, which is located at 9 Cross Street and is a satellite of the National English Literary Museum, contains a modern set of exhibitions portraying the life of Olive Schreiner.
||Middelburg 95 kilometres (59 miles)||Steynsburg 96 km (60 mi)
Hofmeyr 63 kilometres (39 miles)
|Burgersdorp, Aliwal North|
|Graaff-Reinet 140 km (87 mi)||Tarkastad 76 km (47 mi), Queenstown 120 km (75 mi)|
|Pearston||Somerset East 100 km (62 mi)||Bedford 85 km (53 mi)|
- William Faulds, Victoria Cross recipient
- Douglas Gilfillan, lawyer and plant collector
- Olive Schreiner, author and human rights activist
- Guy Butler, author and poet
- Etienne van Heerden, author and poet
- Neville Alexander, author
- James Arthur Calata, cleric and activist
Coat of arms
Municipality — Cradock was established as a municipality in 1840. By 1902, the town council had assumed a coat of arms. The arms were formally granted by the provincial administrator in May 1966 and registered at the Bureau of Heraldry in September 1969.
The arms were : Quarterly: I, Argent, a tree Vert; II, Gules, a beehive, Or; III, Gules, a fleece Or; IV, Azure, a garb Or. In layman's terms, this means that the shield was divided into four quarters displaying (1) a green tree on a silver background, (2) a golden beehive on a red background, (3) a golden fleece on a red background, and (4) a golden wheatsheaf on a blue background.
Until 1966, the shield was flanked by two ostrich feathers. They were replaced with two mountain zebras, as supporters. The crest was a cornucopia and the motto was Perseverantia vincit.
Notes and references
- "Chronological order of town establishment in South Africa based on Floyd (1960:20–26)" (PDF). pp. xlv–lii.
- "Main Place Cradock". Census 2011.
- Logie, Bartle; Snaddon, Ann (2006). Water in the wilderness. Bluecliff.
- Burman, Jose (1984). Early railways at the Cape. Human & Rousseau. p. 73.
- Schoeman, Chris (2013). The Historical Karoo: Traces of the Past in South Africa's Arid Interior. Penguin Random House South Africa. p. 117.
- STATEMENT BY THE TRC: AMNESTY APPLICATIONS FOR CRADOCK FOUR KILLINGS, 16 February 1998
- The arms were depicted on a medallion issued in 1902.
- The arms were depicted on a cigarette card issued in 1931.
- Cape of Good Hope Official Gazette 3348 (27 May 1966).
- "Cradock". Heraldry of the World. Retrieved 2016-01-04.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "article name needed". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.