Prince Albert

a gold rush and a mountain pass

History of Prince Albert

Province: Western Cape
Central karoo
Coordinates:33°13′31″S 22°01′48″E
Area:37.70 km2
Municipality: Prince Albert

Farming community

The town of Prince Albert was established in 1762 on the farm Queekvalleij (Kweekvallei) which had been a loan farm in the names of Zacharias and Dina de Beer. First called Albertsburg, it obtained municipal status in 1845. The name was changed to Prince Albert in honour of Queen Victoria’s consort. Albert Saxe Coburg.
In the late 1800s,

Goldrush

Prince Albert had its own short-lived gold rush when a small nugget was found on the farm Klein Waterval. There was however very little gold ever found there. Only 504 ounces of gold, although there were 1042 registered claims. Artifacts from the gold rush can be seen at the museum.
In 1849 the first post office was built in Prince Albert and a school in 1852. A village library was opened in 1862

Boer war connections, a newspaper, and the economy

During the Second Boer War, Prince Albert became a British garrison to protect the village from Boer commandos but the garrison saw several clashes with the Boers. in 1901 Boer commandos seized the mail coach and its horses. Commandoes under Jan Smuts and Gideon Scheepers were active in the area. Scheepers was captured near Bosluiskloof after which he was moved via Beaufort West on to Graaf Reinet where he was executed in 1902
The first issue of a weekly newspaper The Prince Albert Friend/Vriend was published in 1912 in both Dutch and English. It is still published today however it is released in English and Afrikaans.
In town, there are still many original Victorian and Cape Dutch buildings many of which are national monuments. The economy today mainly revolves around farming, Wine is produced and sheep farming also takes place with a growing mohair export trade.

Swartberg pass

The town was remote until the linking of Prince Albert road to Cape Town by rail in 1879. This, of course, encouraged further development. However, the building of the Swartberg pass was very significant linking Prince Albert to communities in the Great Karoo. Because Meiringspoort was impassable for weeks in winter due to flooding, an alternative route was needed. Construction began on the pass in 1881. Labourers were brought from Mozambique but the project was slowed down by regular desertion of labourers. The project faltered and became insolvent until  1883 when the Cape colonial government employed Thomas Bain to oversee the task using convict labour. However further flooding caused damage and more work needed to be done. 150 convicts died while building in grueling conditions. The pass took 5 years to complete. 1886 saw the pass open for light traffic with a regular post service crossing the mountains.
!904 saw the first motor car drive up the pass, but, the road often had to be closed due to bad weather. Even today snowfall can leave the road impassable.

The license plate prefix for prince Albert is CCA and the postcode is 6930

Read more about Prince Albert here

WEATHER IN PRINCE ALBERT TODAY

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Things to do and see in Prince Albert:

  • -A guided historical walk around the village to see the gabled buildings.
  • Ghost walk
  • Birding, hiking, cycling, and stargazing are other pursuits for visitors.
  • Queen Victoria sent a book containing Prince Albert’s speeches to the village in 1867 which is now on display in the Fransie Pienaar Museum.
  •  Prince Albert Open Studios   023 541 1057   www.princealbertopenstudios.co.za   (biannual art fest) 023 541 1057                    
  • In the library is a heritage quilt made by local needlewomen
  • The Olive Festival, held in April
  • The Indie Karoo Film Festival in July  www.indiekaroofilmfestival.com
  • The Prince Albert art festival in September 023 541 1057 /082 749 2128
  • The Prince Albert show in October where you can try your hand at cow-pat chucking and sheep counting.
  • The Labyrinth at St John the Baptist church 33 13° Lat.; 22 01° Long.
  • Journey to Jazz (J2J) Held in May all 023 541 1366
  • The Karoo Donkey Sanctuary is a registered Animal Welfare NPO and is located on a private farm 083 325 3169  karoodonkeysanctuary.org.za
  • -Boesmanspoort pass
  • Elands pass
  • Tierbergspoort pass
  • Witkranspoort pass
  • The Karoo Gravel Grinder MTB route
  •  When Prince Albert celebrated 250 years since being founded in 1762, local artists and schoolchildren took part in a  “decorate the bins” project depicting some local history
  • THe historic mill just outside town was uilt in 1865 has been restored. It was declared a national monument in 1963.
  • Book a two-hour guided walk showcasing Karoo plants @ Renu Karooat Wolwekraal Nature Reserve.

Useful Numbers in Prince Albert

  • Police: 023 541 8000
  • Municipality;023 541 1036
  • Traffic department:023 541 1648 / 648 / 306
  • Fire: 0842796430 or 0822200848
  • Municipal services emergency number-0822200848
  • Ambulance: 10177Post office;023 541 1430
  • Library:023 541 1034
  • Closest hospital;023 5411300/1
  • Pharmacy;Prins-Kem-023 541 1058
  • SPCA: Karoo Donkey Sanctuary-082 900 6103
  • Schools:

Zwartberg High School-023 541 1570
Albert College-083 266 8729
Prins Albert Primary School-023 541 1980
Prince Albert Boarding School-
Grootkraal Ucc Primary School 0442792126
Ohlange high school-073 211 6604

  • Museum;Fransie Pienaar Museum-023 541 1172
  • Tourism – 023 541 1366
  • Local Paper: Prince Albert Friend, a community newspaper for the small Karoo town of Prince Albert, South Africa. princealbertfriend@gmail.com      Contains the latest news, happenings and stories of village life
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