Two More Interesting Pilgrim’s Pioneers Whispering from the Past…

Cogill and Owen

PILGRIM’S Rest is full of interesting people and places. Two of the best-known characters in the village were Claude Cogill and Michael Owen.

The manager of the Graskop branch, Mac McDonald, took Barclay’s News reporters to meet them at “The Diggings” where Claude entertains visitors with tales of Pilgrim’s Rest and demonstrations of panning.

Claude was born in Pilgrim’s Rest 70 years ago and has lived in the village for much of his life. He was an assayer for the Transvaal Gold Mining Estates which finally closed down in 1971. Rand Mines, the holding company, still retains all mineral rights although they sold the village to the Province. “The mining companies were never interested in alluvial gold,” says Claude, “you see, alluvial gold mining is a game of chance, reef mining is a game of skill.”

His job was to assay the bullion before it was sent to the Rand Refinery, where the silver was extracted. Against the assay certificates he issued, Barclay’s Bank at Pilgrim’s Rest was allowed to payout the value in money.

He has many stories to tell about the mining town in its heyday: “The town can never be exactly the same as it was then; lots of things today are no longer relevant to Pilgrims Rest because this was essentially a mining town. ”

Claude recalls a famous character from the past, Bert Longstaff from the Jubilee Mine who used to ride through the town on his horse, whistling as he rode. He clearly remembers  Mine “big boss” of TGME, Mr R. A. Barry, who was the mine manager who lived and ruled from the big house at the end of the town.

Some years ago Claude bought the Mali Dyke Mine from Rand Mines which he continued to operate it in a small way. His only son Professor Charles Cogill is an industrial psychologist at Natal University. “He collects university degrees – I collect gold,” quips the highly articulate Claude.

Michael Owen, his great friend, does not look anywhere near his 82 years. A Welshman from Caernarvon (Wales); Michael has lived in Pilgrim’s Rest for 64 years. His was one of the 21 Welsh families that settled in the town. He also began his mining career with TGME and stayed with them all his working life. Today he is the last Welshman left in Pilgrim’s Rest. He recalls: “There was a lot of singing here once upon a time although not everyone in the choir was Welsh – we had a few Germans”. He has even learned to speak Afrikaans, “with a Welsh accent”, he chuckles.

Claude and Michael have seen Barclay’s Bank change from a full-time bank, “the only bank here” to being a thrice-weekly agency of the Graskop branch.

Trips ZA Logo

For exciting History, Scenic and Wildlife tours throughout the Panorama, Lowveld and Bushveld regions and beyond call our Dream Merchants on
013 764 1177.

Email us at


Posted in Biography, History | 3 Comments

Why Make Use of a Tourism Brokerage Firm for your Travel or Holiday Arrangements ?

Trips ZA Logo

Tourism Brokers who specialize in marketing normally come into their own as a vitally necessary part of the equation for patrons, who know very little about what the tourism market or tourism destination market is about.

Through listening to the requests of patrons while they make enquiries, and answering their questions in our offices, as Tourism Brokers, we have noticed that many of patrons who do find us are:

geographically unaware,
destination unaware,
product unaware.

We as Tourism Brokers try to profile our potential patrons into categories when patrons make enquiries. We study the following in an effort to meet our patrons’ needs :

Tilla - Tour Group Consultant


budget range,

available dates
season (high, medium, low.)
available period,
party size,
type of accommodation (camping, self-catering, bed & breakfast, room only etc.) .
age mix of patrons,
residential locality origin,
cultural preferences.

Once these ingredients have been factored into the situation, we can gauge where patrons would be happy to stay. Many resorts are actually a destination product in themselves, which is very important, especially to visitors who have families with children, who need to be entertained, and who have a low boredom threshold.

Furthermore GPS gadgets are rendered useless in the country areas because of the side roads and tracks that have not been featured into the gadget systems.

We have noticed that apart from first time enquirers that do find us, many venue booking clerks, travel agents, and tour operators who obviously do not specialize in destination marketing, are ignorant of the various inherent destination intricacies.


Jolandie - Tourism Consultant

A necessary part of our destination expertise is knowledge of what our destination’s towns have to offer, from a shopping, entertainment, and cuisine point of view, and especially, which class the accommodation venues fall into.

For example; if the mountains are cloud covered along the Panorama Route, a GPS gadget is useless to patrons who are ignorant about local conditions. Fancy gadget solutions to a getaway have only a limited application, because at the end of the day the hands on Dream Merchant at the coalface can, through immediate personal contact with the patrons, inform them about the prevalent situation “ïn sutu”.

JohnT - Marketing and Sales Director and Tours Specialist

The 20 % yearly average increase in visits to our websites to date, also confirms that patrons still seek assistance in deciding on their getaway destination. By virtue of the fact that we are destination experts, we can educate and inform patrons about :

distances between towns,
broadly and specifically what destinations have to offer,
what routes should be taken to reach destinations,
how to make contact with venues,
other operators,
towns that can offer them what they may actually be looking for,
what attractions and products a broader destination provides,
how and where the destination is situated, what it consists of,
what climate to expect there,
the best time of the year to be there,
condition of roads to the destination, and other options if necessary,
which part of the destination, product or venue will suit their specific needs,
alternative options at quality venues that are not that well known, especially when all the well known venues are already full during high season periods.

Other reasons that patrons ought to use the services of a Tourism Broker are:

that Tourism Brokers know where there are gaps (if any) over busy periods that Tourism Brokers are able to collect funds (through the payment of a deposit, or the full amount), thereby making settlement transactions so much more convenient. If per chance, a patron is dissatisfied with the accommodation option offered on arrival, through whatever circumstance, the Tourism Broker who has collected the payment on behalf of the venue, can intervene on the patron’s behalf, when it comes down to refunds, and is able to make immediate alternative arrangements without the hassle of problem refunds, or other inconveniences.

that Tourism Brokers, who are destination wise, have so many more options available to the patron.

that Tourism Brokers can assist in providing information to the patron about whatever products are generally available at a destination, and then actually instruct the patron on the best way to enjoy and appreciate those products, and why.

how to tour the Bushveld and KNP
when to tour KNP,
how to enjoy KNP to the full,
when to tour the Panorama,
how to enjoy the Panorama,
best kept secrets,
optional ideas,

Willie - Business Management Director and Webmaster

Tourism Brokers can help to compile tours that provide the patrons with optimum experiences during the time available, at the best prices, without unnecessary touring stress, which in turn guarantees them real value for their money.

Patrons who are interested in specialty tours ought to use the services of destination-wise brokers, who will place them on suitable tours lead by fully qualified fully endorsed specialty guides.

They will then have a far more satisfying cost effective experience than if they were to try to tackle these kinds of tours as unknowledgeable, (FIT’s) Fully Independent Travelers.

Tourism Brokers can monitor the quality of product offerings on a daily basis more accurately through their continual and on-going contact with other patrons and tour guides, as well as first hand information that they are able to glean as they deal at close quarters with product suppliers.

Trips ZA Logo

Call us at TRIPS ZA for exciting History, Wildlife, Scenic, and other General Interest tours throughout the Panorama, Kruger, Loweld regions and beyond on
013 764 1177

Email us at



Posted in Tourism | 2 Comments

Alex Patterson, The Wheelbarrow Man

Man’s greed for wealth, celebrity, and success has always been insatiable, and it is incredible to what ends he will strive, suffer or reach for, to fulfill or satisfy his passions.

The Gold Strike in the Pilgrims’s Rest area, during the 1870’s, was a point at hand.

Nugget from Pilgrim's Rest

At first the “rush” was local. But once the news spread to Lydenburg, and then further a field, it drew hundreds of gold seekers from many parts of the globe to seek their fortunes. Reports from the Transvaal had said: “This is the real thing!” It was the Klondyke and California all over again as people set out for the new El Dorado.

To reach the goldfields however, the journey required some capital. Australian and American diggers, down on their luck, scraped together their passage money, while many sailors deserted their ships in South African ports.

Gold Diggers on the way to a Gold Rush

Virtually all of them had foot-slogged most of the way from the coast; their worn boots and tattered clothing baring out the testimony that it had been a long, hard walk. They had come from Natal, the diamond fields in Kimberley, Lourenco Marques, and from as far a field as the Cape. Kimberley, where most of the diamond claims had petered out, supplied about a third of the diggers.

Lourenco Marques was only 250 odd kilometers from Pilgrim’s Rest, but it was a most perilous journey, to be taken only by those prepared to risk their lives in the hope of making a fortune.

Gold Panners at Macmac

In the summer months the heat was appalling, and at least two thirds of those who tried to walk across the region that is today largely covered by the Kruger National Park, contracted malaria.

As the period of incubation for malaria before it manifests itself is about fourteen days, it depended on how long they had spent in Lourenco Marques, before they embarked on their journey, as to whether they were laid low on the journey, or whether it began to show itself after they had climbed the escarpment.

Remains of Malaria Victims

Anopheles Mosquito

The fate of those too weak to walk through the Bushveld is almost too awful to contemplate – a slow and lonely death from starvation, with hyenas gloating patiently as they waited for the end.

Wheelbarrow Patterson

One of the early diggers was a man named Alex Patterson. Alex was a slow-moving, taciturn man who was working at Macmac. He was a loner who could do without the company of other men. He had earned the nick-name of  “Wheelbarrow Alex” because he had arrived in the area with all his equipment loaded on a wheelbarrow.

Donkey Overload

He was believed to have come from Kimberley, but in fact had come all the way from the Cape.However, the animal was decidedly malcontent with the heavy load, and when Alex tried to goad it on, it kicked him, and that was that. He promptly sold the beast, and bought a wheelbarrow that he pushed from the Cape, via Kimberley, to Pilgrim’s Rest – a distance of 2600 kilometers !

Alex felt that the Macmac diggings were becoming too crowded, and he decided it was time to move on. He worked his claim until sundown, and then packed his pick, his shovels and sluice box onto the wheelbarrow.

Earliest View of Pilgrim's Creek

“I’m off”, he said the next morning, and headed for the hills.

Unfortunately one Stafford found him and his source of gold. He must have followed a game trail to the north-west, and pulled and pushed his wheelbarrow up a spur of the mountain that rose 600meters odd.

Gold Dust

He decided to pan the Peach Tree Creek where he found real gold. He never registered his claim and panned as hard as he could, filling his pockets as quickly as he could. He had found his Eldorado !

He blew the whistle by registering his claim, and Peach tree creek became the Pilgrim’s Creek, which was where the first real gold strike occurred in Southern Africa, spawning the biggest gold rush the world had ever seen. The diggers came from all over in their droves, to stake their claims in the Pilgrim’s Creek. It is said that Stafford coined the name Pilgrim’s Rest on finding this incredible source of alluvial gold !

Gleaned from various sources.

Trips ZA Logo

Call our Dream Merchants for exciting History, Wildlife, Scenic, or General Interest tours of the Panorama, Lowveld and Kruger regions or beyond on
013 764 1177.

Email us at


Posted in Biography, History | 6 Comments

The Robber’s Grave in Pilgrim’s Rest

It does well to keep up to date with the latest versions of historical accounts of the area one lives in, especially when truth turns out to be stranger than fiction.

Robber's Grave Tomb Stone

If one visits the cemetery in Pilgrims’ Rest one finds the Robber’s Grave which lies to the right of most of the other graves. It also lies North/South as opposed to all the others lying East/West.

Robber's Grave Relative to other Graves




The legend at large has always maintained that the Robber’s Grave was the grave of a thief amongst the diggers in the mining camp who was caught pilfering in another man’s tent. He was apparently lynched and then died.

Some time back Roger Webster gave a radio talk on Cockney Liz of Barberton. This is a tale with a remarkable twist, which shows that there is always more to a story – especially when it is about someone as celebrated as Cockney Liz, the famous barmaid of Barberton during the gold rush of the late 1800’s.

Cockney Liz Dancing

The story of Cockney Liz is a sad story, which becomes even sadder when one reads about decent people finding themselves in serious difficulties in a strange country. Happily however, it seems that Liz emerged on the right side of life.

Elizabeth Webster

One is inclined to lift one’s eyes at the statusquo prevailing in the mining camps of Pilgrim’s Rest and Barberton as regards extra favours to the miners besides serving drinks as barmaids. The barmaids in the mining camps were there to virtually cater for all the miners’ needs from drinks, to nursing during bouts of fever, hangovers after a serious binge, comfort to someone with a sore heart, to commiserating with miners feeling depressed about whatever their problems may have been, and to providing for the more intimate needs of the miners themselves. It was an accepted “given”.

Royal Hotel with Bar

These ladies were respected, accepted in the highest circles, and cherished by everyone except the wives and girl-friends of some of the men, who were most concerned about any potential competition they may have had to contend with.

Apparently one of the miners was heard boasting about the fact that Florrie, the Golden Dane, who was expert at arm wrestling the miners, and he were sweethearts and would shortly be entering into wedlock.


When Florrie heard this she accosted the miner in the pub and “sjambokked” him seriously into an apology and sudden withdrawal of the statement. She then added that she was everyones’ sweetheart but was not owned and never would be owned by anybody – ever.

The saga begins with Elizabeth Webster of Scarborough in England who fell in love with a Mr.Roy Spencer, son of a well to do English banker who had no time for his son, as he was thought to be a waster. However he and Elizabeth eventually became engaged.

Mail Boat to Cape Town

Roy was determined to show the world that he could make his own way in life and provide adequately, thus proving that he was worth his salt. Having heard of the marvelous opportunities in the diamond and newly discovered goldfields he decided to make his way to South Africa where he was determined to generate a fortune.

On voyage to his “Eldorado” he met up with a Mr. Walter Scott who was impressed with Roy’s accounts of the fabulous fortunes to be made. They became close friends and decided to make their way forward together.

Madeira where Spencer met Scott

Elizabeth was of course left behind. When she stopped hearing from Roy for some months she started pining for her man to such an extent that she eventually decided to follow him.

Once she arrived in Kimberley she started making enquiries about her fiancé’s whereabouts, to be told that he and his friend had moved on to Barberton where they were going to try their hand at panning for gold.

Stage Coach to Barberton

In the company of Trixie, a friend she had made on her way, they embarked on the their stagecoach journey to Barberton together. En route they were held up by the notorious Irish Brigade who robbed them of all their valuables and money. They arrived in Barberton penniless.

Eventually a Mrs.Emily Fernandez and Dr. Somershields, a medical doctor and amateur geologist broke the sad news to Elizabeth that her fiancé was in fact dead.

The story was that Roy Spencer and Walter Scott had decided to visit Pilgrim’s Rest with Dr. Somershields from Barberton. They were at a party in the bar of the Royal Hotel in Pilgrims’ Rest where they both became rather drunk.

Royal Hotel Bar Pilgrim's Rest

Walter was inclined to become belligerent when he was not sober, and on this occasion accused Roy of stealing his purse of gold. Roy denied having stolen the purse and when Walter pulled a gun on him he hastily made off in the direction of the Methodist Church in Pilgrim’s in an effort to get away from his friend. Walter pursued him and shot him to death in the bushes above the church in what is now the present cemetery.

Friends of the two and Walter colluded to avoid trouble and any unwanted awkward investigations in the mining camp. They hastily dug a grave next to where the body lay, and buried Roy without telling a soul.

Robbers Grave

Once Walter had sobered up he found his purse in his tent. He then realized what he had done and promptly committed suicide. The same friends also secretly buried him next to Roy in an unmarked grave.

The grave was dug North/South as opposed to the other graves all lying East/West. A simple wooden cross with “Robber’s Grave” was mounted, and the story was spread that a robber had been buried at that site. That story has prevailed until the present day.

Heartbroken, Elizabeth suddenly realised she was on her own and in fact destitute.

Trixie, who was a barmaid, knew the ways of men having had experience with returning or visiting sailors and soldiers at the quayside in England. She prevailed on Elizabeth to start working as a barmaid. Elizabeth was a beautiful girl and a born entertainer with a good voice.

Royal Albert Hall Barberton

She sang and entertained the diggers, eventually becoming the most popular and desired barmaid in Barberton.

Red Light Canteen Barberton

She was courted by the wealthy and famous businessmen operating in Barberton at the time, and eventually allowed herself to be seduced. She started making money by auctioning herself off to the highest bidder amongst the diggers as a prize for the night, and became the popular Cockney Liz.

Sir Alfred Beit

Accurate accounts claim that the celebrated financier Alfred Beit of Corner House fame was madly in love with her and begged her to marry him but she turned him down.

She opened the Royal Albert Hall after working in the Red Light Canteen where she made her fortune.

Eventually her old acquaintance Mr. Percy Scribbens proposed to her, and they were married in Johannesburg. She destroyed all evidence relating to herself, and left Barberton as suddenly as she had arrived. She apparently returned to England with her husband.

A legend has it that an old Barbertonian was on the platform of a train station somewhere in England. He noticed a beautiful woman sitting in a train compartment next to the window.

Old Railway Station in England

He recognized her as Cockney Liz of Barberton and rushed to greet her. She ignored him. He persisted in trying to draw her attention. Eventually as the train started moving out of the station, she sang one of the bar songs from the Royal Albert Hall.

Gleaned from a broadcast by Roger Webster and other sources. There do happen to be other versions of this legend.

Trips ZA Logo

Call our Dream Merchants for exciting History, Wildlife, Scenic or General History tours of the Panorama, Kruger, Lowveld regions or beyond on
013 764 1177.

Email us at

Posted in History | 4 Comments

“Ford-lore” on Pilgrim’s Hill

The first automobiles began to appear in the Pilgrim’s Rest district in about 1910.

This form of conveyance was already fairly common in other parts of the Transvaal, but there the roads were on the level.

Pilgrim's Hill

The two problems that faced the would-be motorist at Pilgrim’s Rest was whether these new fangled machines could climb the last stretches of the road from Lydenburg, and, if they did make the journey down Pilgrim’s Hill into the valley, whether they would ever get out again. The general opinion was that no horseless carriage would ever climb that precipitous road, which in those days was a great deal steeper than it is now, since it followed a more direct route to the summit.

These doubts were justified. Aimetti, the general manager, bought a grand five-seater Hispano-Suiza, a car that was the fashion icon of its day, positively gleaming with its highly polished brass lamps and other parts.

Hispana Suisa

It fairly spanked along the road between Clewer House where the Aimettis lived, and the Royal Hotel in the main street. On Pilgrim’s Hill however, it roared, puffed, panted – and then gave up.

Model T Ford

The next machine to reach the village was a humbler shiny black Model T Ford, and owned by H.P.Valintine, the claims inspector. Up until this time, Valintine had spent most of his life on horseback. He had however recently learned to ride a motor-cycle, and had made a careful study of a manual on how to drive and care for a Ford. Nevertheless he had much to find out. He approached things on a “learn while earning” basis.

Dash Board Model T Ford

“Although I wound and wound the starting handle till near exhaustion, I got no reaction from the engine. After wondering what next, I spotted a key hanging from the steering wheel column. I decided to insert it into the aperture marked ignition, and returned to the starting handle. At the first swing the engine delightedly roared to life, revving loudly. “After rushing round to the close the throttle lever, I climbed into the driver’s seat where I released the hand brake cum top gear lever – and the engine stalled immediately. “Having restarted the engine, I made sure to put my foot on the clutch pedal, and gradually started my driving career around the goods yard at the railway station in Lydenburg.

Lydenburg Market Square

Having never driven anything but a motor-cycle before, I continued to go round and round until I realized that I had to turn the steering wheel back again to regain a straight course.”   However Valintine was quite fearless, and after a few hours of practice, he set off for Pilgrim’s Rest, descended the Hill in bottom gear, and drew up in front of the Royal Hotel. The car was much admired. But the real test was yet to come. Would the car climb Pilgrim’s Hill?

Joubert Bridge

One Sunday morning, while the village was still asleep, Valintine and his stable boy set out to see if it could be done. They crossed the Blyde River bridge, and set the Ford’s blunt nose towards the Hill. With only four stops to cool the engine, and to replenish the boiling water, she made it! In a second test the car climbed the Hill carrying the owner-driver and three passengers. She was the first car to reach the top of Pilgrim’s Hill under her own power. After that the test of any car in Pilgrim’s Rest became: “Can it do what Valintine’s Ford has done? Can it climb the Hill carrying three passengers?” Many were tried, but few were chosen. Enterprising motor-car salesmen who visited the district from time to time were allowed to talk about the merits of their particular model without interruption. Then the prospective purchaser would say: “I’ll buy it if it can climb the Hill with three passengers on board.”

More Model T Ford

As often as not, that meant that the disappointed salesman had to get his heap back to Lydenburg, usually vowing that he would never do business in that accursed valley again, where the road climbed the side of a house.   The early motorists of the district were among the first to discover that the reverse gear on most cars developed more power than the forward gears.

General Smuts

It was not considered at all unusual to climb the Hill backwards, pausing from time to time to refill the engine from a water bottle that was an essential part of the Pilgrim’s Rest motorist’s driving kit.

Luxury Limousine

When General Smuts visited the village to open the Belvedere power station in his powerful official limousine, it was realized that the car would never make it through the five drifts to Vaalhoek without cracking the sump, or flooding the engine. The versatile Valintine and his Model T Ford were summoned to the rescue. Could they carry the General to Vaalhoek? They could and they would.

Autos in Pilgrim's Rest

That night there was an enormous banquet and fall-down party at the Royal Hotel, at which General Smuts spoke of Pilgrim’s Rest’s past, and of the great contribution that the T.G.M.E. was making to the whole district, and of the bright future he forsaw for it.

The next morning Valintine and his Model T presented themselves in “traveling kit”. The radiator of the car carried an oilcloth “hood” which could be lowered to keep water out of the engine. To the exhaust pipe was attached a length of hosepipe which was tied to the tail light – a primitive form of “snorkel” for river crossings.

Belvedere Hydro Power Station

With the General taking the keenest interest in the proceedings, from his seat next to the driver, the Ford safely forded the first four drifts. At the fifth, the General transferred to a bucket, and was hauled across the river, while Valintine bravely headed into water one meter deep.

The brave little Ford stalled just as it had completed the crossing, was hauled out by oxen, and once its plugs and carburetor had been dried out, proceeded on its way.

So impressed was the General with Valintine’s innovative solutions to his problems, that he offered him the opportunity to join the South African Flying Corps as a learner pilot. Valintine reluctantly turned down the offer, as his salary would be no more than a claims inspector, and he was a married man.

The Royal Hotel

Some years later Valintine approached Smuts at the Savoy Hotel in London for assistance in obtaining a commission in the Royal Flying Corps. The General had not forgotten him, and wrote the necessary letter of commendation. I wonder how the General’s limo. managed to exit the Pilgrim’s valley up the Hill?

Model T Ford Crossing the River

Another snippet from “The Valley of Gold” by A.P.Cartwright.

For exciting History tours or General Interest tours of the region and beyond call our Dream Merchants at TRIPS ZA
013 764 1177

Email us at

Posted in History | Leave a comment

A Slice of Welsh Rarebit

Welsh Miner

The Transvaal Gold Mining Estates T.G.M.E. of Pilgrim’s Rest happened to employ numerous Welshman in their mines, by virtue of the fact that they were experienced miners, seeking a better life by emigrating from Wales during the dreadful conditions of the industrial revolution.

Welsh Singers at Johnny's

Many of them through loyalty to the T.G.M.E, and through hard work, had an enormous impact on what made the mining operations successful.

Most of those Welshmen grew to love the Pilgrim’s Valley, which was so like the valleys they had known at home. Once they had a football pitch, and a male voice choir established, they were as happy as Welshmen ever are. They brought their own brand of lilting English to the district, but whenever three or more of them gathered together, they spoke their mother tongue.

There wasn’t a child in Pilgrim’s Rest in those days who did not know a word or two of Welsh, or could not sing some of the old ballads.

Welsh Flag

Ah, the singing! To this day you have to be pretty good before you dare to sing in public in Pilgrim’s Rest, and even about the best of tenors, the old inhabitants will say: “He’s not as good as Dai Rees was when he was at his best in the old days”.

Early Diggers outside the Pub

Every adult male inhabitant of the district owned a horse, and hitching rails lined the main street where the cars are parked today.

On Saturdays the miners dressed in riding breeches, jacket and cap, used to assemble on their mounts at various particular points – Fullard’s Corner, Darke’s Gulley, Geoff Edward’s Corner, or Brown’s Hill. When they were all there someone would cry: “Last man in pays for the drinks!”

Inside the Bar of the Royal Hotel late 1800's

That was the starting signal for a wild race to either the Royal Hotel or the European. They would gallop flat out up the main street, dismount, tether their horses, and make a dash for the pub – and the last man to reach the bar counter, paid for the first round.

Long before closing time their voices would be raised in song, and late at night the horses would carry some of the revelers home, riding knee to knee, with the reins hanging free, their arms round one another’s necks, and their heads thrown back as they gave a final rendering of “ The Ash Grove”. A miner’s mount had not only to be able to gallop, but also be able to find its way home on a Saturday night.

Main Street of Pilgrim's Rest late 1800's

These cavalry charges through the village led to keen competition amongst fast horse owners. The miners scoured the surrounding district and countryside for good-looking colts, and even imported retired race-horses from Johannesburg. So enthusiastic did they become, that they established a gymkhana course, on the other side of Brown’s Hill, and held Saturday race meetings.

A Snippet from “The Valley of Gold” by A.P.Cartwright

For exciting History or General Interest tours of the Panorama Region and beyond call our Dream Merchants at TRIPS ZA on
013 764 1177.

email us at

Posted in humour | Leave a comment

Basic Solutions to Basic Problems

Gen. Beyers

Gen. de la Rey

Just before the first world war, Generals Beyers, de la Rey, Maritz and others had gone into rebellion, and General Louis Botha the Prime Minister of the Union had declared Martial Law. A young constable of the South African Police, newly posted to Pilgrim’s Rest, had made a careful study of what was, and what was not permitted, under Martial Law.

Royal Hotel Bar Pilgrim's Rest

One Saturday night he was patrolling in the village’s main street, when three miners emerged from the bar, talking to one another rather loudly in Welsh. The constable stepped forward and barred their way.

“It is my duty to inform you that under the provisions of the Martial Law proclamation, you are not permitted to speak a foreign language,” he said.

Welsh Language Banner

There was a shocked silence.

“What was it I am thinking I heard you say young man?” asked the senior member of the party.

“ I said you are not allowed to speak a foreign language….”

A foreign language! This whippersnapper had the impertinence to call the tongue of Welshmen, the time honoured language of Wales, known throughout the world, and indeed to goodness all Englishmen, who would speak it, if they could only learn it…. He called it foreign !

Prince of Wales Medalion

They fell upon that constable, and, for the honour of Wales, beat him up soundly. They then delivered him at the police station, his uniform in shreds, and told the sergeant-in-charge that they wanted to lay charges of high treason against him, and a further charge for gravely insulting the Prince of Wales.

But instead they were charged with assaulting and obstructing a policeman in the course of his duty, and of damaging his uniform.

Tactful Sergeant

It would have been quite a case if it had come to court. However the sergeant was a tactful man, and there was a conference between the police and the accused, during which it was explained that the constable had never heard anyone speaking Welsh before. Besides which, how was he to know that it was the second language of Great Britain? To him it sounded like a foreign tongue.

The Welshmen, on their part, described how deeply insulted they felt, and how sensitive the Welsh were about their language. They decided to offer to buy the constable two new uniforms as a compromise – and the matter rested there.

A Snippet from “The Valley of Gold” by A.P. Cartwright.

Trips ZA Logo

Call our Dream Merchants for exciting History, Wildlife, Scenic, or General Interest tours in the Panorama, Kruger, Lowveld regions or beyond on
013 764 1177.

Email us at

Posted in humour | Leave a comment