Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Old World

Pilgrim's Rest has an "old world charm" - because it's a perfect replica of a prospector's town "born" during the gold-rush days, the entire small village was restored & then declared a National Monument. Accidentally Alec 'Wheelbarrow' Patterson discovered gold here in 1873, which lasted until 1972, when the Beta mine ceased operations as the last operational mine.

The historical Royal Hotel has a "famous" pub/bar, although the locals say they meet each other after work in the 'chapel'. This might sound weird but is based on fact: originally the pub was a Roman Catholic chapel of the St Cyprian's School in Cape Town. When the chapel was demolished someone decided to transport it via Maputo (Mozambique) & then by ox-wagon to Pilgrim's Rest. However instead of being re-erected as a chapel, it became part of the Royal Hotel as its bar.

The small Methodist Church was built in 1911 in the place of an original wood-and-tin structure.

In 1912, Tommy Dennison, a well-known man in Pilgrim's Rest, was badly in debt. He remembered that a coach robbery had taken place in 1899 on what is now known as the Robber's Pass. So Tommy decided to attempt the same but instead of gold sovereigns he only found a case of silver coins in the coach. When he nonetheless started to pay his debts with the stolen money, he was arrested & sent to jail. After a 5-year term Tommy returned to Pilgrim's Rest & opened what to this day is still called the Highwayman's Garage.

When an unknown man, who was once caught & convicted of tent-robbing, dared to return years later to Pilgrim's Rest, he was spotted on what is now known as Cemetery Hill. He was shot & killed & where he fell, buried. His grave lies north-south (instead of the Christian way of graves in an east-west direction) & this Robber's Grave is closely connected with the old cemetery.

Many old residences were converted into shops, as this pretty Craft Centre, which line the main street of "Up-Town" (> versus "Down-Town" = Highwayman's Garage)

Mrs Mac's Shop is another fine example of a historical building converted to a shop. In 1905 it housed the Royal Hotel's off-sales, then was rented as a chemist in 1913, but later began to trade as the general dealer in town.

On most days you'll find a colourful Ndebele lady or 2 on the porch of Mrs Mac's General Dealer. But please remember - they do "represent" a tourist attraction so photographing them means you need to pay a "donation" of R5-

I hope you enjoyed your VISIT to Pilgrim's Rest!?

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