Ladismith’s Architectural Heritage
History about our town
Ladismith was established by the Dutch Reformed Church in 1851 on a portion of the farm “Ylands Valley”. The town was surveyed and laid out in 1852, but only after 10 years was it finally declared a town. Named after Lady Juana Smith, Spanish wife of the Governor of the Cape, Sir Harry Smith, the original “Ladysmith” was changed to Ladismith in 1879 to prevent confusion with a similarly named town in Natal.
The town is unique in the sense that it has its own individual building style. The so-called Ladismith style is a simplified Georgian design and dates from the 1830’s. Several other architectural styles, eg Neo-Gothic, Georgian, Victorian, Regency and rural (Karoo) style, Regency, Lithuanian can also be found. Several buildings have been declared National Monuments, e.g. the Otto Hager church where the Tourism Bureau is housed.
The Water Monument
On the Knuywagensdrift/Hoeko road a unique water seepage tunnel was built in 1910 (completed in 1912) to provide drinking water to the Ladismith community. The initial phase was about 86m, extended by an additional 66 m in 1944. Most of the original tunnel was built by hand although an antique crane was used to remove excess material from the site. Workmen excavated deep into the earth – the water level is between 4 and 4,8 m below the surface – to ensure that the tunnel was under the river bed. The tunnel runs diagonally across the river bed and was filled with river sand and stones. At the bottom is a canal collecting the naturally-filtered pure water, being conveyed to two concrete reservoirs through gravity and a pipeline. From here the water flows to a reservoir situated above the town, from where it is distributed throughout the town.
Victorian Style (1870’s – Early 1900’s)
The one-bay stoep-kamer houses all had verandas with ornate brookie-lace or simple cast iron. Some of the houses had holbol gables and octoganal quoined corner turrets.