About Pilgrim's Rest - Pilgrim's Rest History - Ponieskrantz

Map to Ponieskrantz Stained Glass Studio, Hand thrown pottery and Pilgrim's Pantry Restaurant

Interesting facts about Pilgrim's Rest and the history Pilgrim's Rest including the history of Ponieskrantz




PILGRIMS REST Compiled and written by Louis-John Havemann :click here for full article


Ponieskrantz was the first farm to be proclaimed a gold field. There were others like Ledophine, Lisbon and Graskop.

History of Pilgrim's Rest - Diggers home

This digger was fairly well off as he has a permanent home covered by a layer of thatch for coolness. The tools of his trade (His pestle, mortar and gold pan) are held by his worker in front


Evidence of mine diggings at Pilgrim's Rest goes back to ancient times when unknown people worked the gold bearing quartz reefs for this precious metal.
Signs of early mining activity can be found in the north and eastern parts of South Africa as well as Zimbabwe.

A number of insignificant gold deposits were discovered in the northern parts of South Africa between 1840 and 1870.


Not only Diggers but professional tradesmen, storekeepers, canteen owners, rogues, sinners and saints, members of the fairer sex, even parsons arrived to contribute to the life of the gold rush town of Pilgrims Rest.

By 1874/75 Pilgrim's Rest had become the social and commercial centre for the gold rush diggings which consisted of the Upper, Middle and Lower Camps.
By 1896 many of the tents had been replaced by more permanent buildings.
After the First War of Independence which brought victory to the Boers after the battle of Majuba in 1881, the Volksraad (Transvaal Government) granted concessions to individuals and companies in an effort to stimulate economic and industrial growth.

In 1881, David Benjamin, a London financier, obtained the mining rights to Pilgrim's Rest and the surrounding area. His first move was to compensate the remaining diggers for their claims. This caused much unrest amongst the Diggers but the days of the small miner had to give way to big business.
Benjamin then consolidated all his claims and formed the Transvaal Gold Exploration Company. In 1895, this company amalgamated with other smaller companies, to form the Transvaal Gold Mining Estates.

After nearly 100 years, gold mining at Pilgrims Rest ceased in 1972, but there is conjecture that mining will be opened up again.



History of Pilgrim's Rest - first discovery of gold in the Transvaal

The first discovery of gold in the Transvaal which led to the first gold rush in South Africa, took place in 1873 when payable gold was discovered on the farm Geelhoutboom belonging to Tom McLahlan, near the town of Sabie in Mpumalanga.
This discovery saved the Boer Republic of the Transvaal (ZAR. Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek) from bankruptcy.


President Burgers, who visited the site, named the camp "Mac Mac" and declared the area the New Caledonia Gold Fields.


Some of the characters of Pilgrim's Rest


Alec Patterson, a prospector of those times, was a taciturn eccentric loner and as a result of his habit of pushing his worldly possessions around the mountains in a wheelbarrow, earned the nickname “Wheelbarrow Patterson”, or “Wheelbarrow Alec”.


History of Pilgrim's Rest - Wheelbarrow Patterson


William Trafford, entered the valley and also discovered gold in the stream.
Trafford, who had been trudging up and down the mountains, in sun and rain and wind for months on end, with nothing to show for his efforts, is credited with naming the place Pilgrim’s Rest.
He is reputed to have stated that his pilgrimage was over and he had now reached the end of his search and so “This Pilgrim has come to rest”. Thus it was that the camp became known as Pilgrims Rest and the stream as Pilgrims Creek.


William Charles Scully, born in Dublin, October 29,1855 was raised in Cashel, in County Tipperary

This delightful character appears as an idealistic romantic young man who despite everything, sensed the excitement, glamour and fun of those historic days.


He is also reputed to have worked as a tent maker at one time to supplement his income, which practice seems to have been quite common amongst the Diggers.

He and his partners worked long and hard with no luck on Jubilee Hill and finally left the claim.

The hardest blow came after they had abandoned their claim. A New Zealander named Cunningham, pegged a claim over their site and recovered over 4000 pounds worth of gold in just a few short weeks.


Scully decided that his future did not lie at Pilgrims Rest so he packed up and left.


Map to Ponieskrantz Stained Glass Studio, Pilgrim's Rest map, Hand thrown pottery, Pilgrim's Pantry Restaurant

Map to Ponieskrantz Stained Glass Studio, Pilgrim's Rest map, Hand thrown pottery, Pilgrim's Pantry Restaurant









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