Oudtshoorn

We visited Oudtshoorn to spend time with a relative. There are plenty of restaurants in the town but we particularly enjoyed lunch at Buffelsdrift Game Lodgewhich I highly recommend.

Buffelsdrift Game Lodge

Buffelsdrift Game Lodge

Oudtshoorn was founded c.1847 and named after Baron Pieter van Rheede van Oudtshoorn (1714-73), a Governor-Designate of the Cape Colony – he died at sea en route to South Africa before he could take up the post. The town is now known for ostriches! The ostrich industry dates to the 1860s, a time when feathers were highly fashionable in Europe. The second ‘boom’ was in the years between the Anglo-Boer War and WWI for similar reasons. It was during this time that the population of the town expanded (to around 9,000 people) and the ‘feather palaces’ were built. And there were also feather dusters!

Feather Duster (http://www.lakeland.co.uk/23860/Ostrich-Feather-Duster)

The C P Nel Museum in Oudtshoorn opened in 1907 as the Boys High School. The building ceased as a school in 1963 and reopened as a Museum in 1972 and it has several interesting exhibits, starting with ostriches. 

Ostrich feather hat in the Museum, Oudtshoorn
Ostrich feather hat in the Museum, Oudtshoorn

Isaac Nurick was one of the Lithuanian Jews who settled in Oudtshoorn and who prospered through ostrich trading. He was also one of the first car owners in the town! His was a sad story as he was ruined by the collapse of the market at the start of WWI and went to London to try and recover money, leaving his children in Oudtshoorn, never to return. (More here.)

Ostrich feather dealer - shop in the Museum
Nurick, Ostrich feather dealer – reassembled shop in the Museum

Furniture, South African and European, and fine crockery from local people are displayed in the Museum. The quality of the ware indicates the wealth generated by the ostrich trade.

And only a wealthy man could have afforded this bedstead of worked copper.

A copper bedstead in a recreated bedroom in the Museum
A copper bedstead in a recreated bedroom in the Museum

The oxwagon was used to transport goods between Oudtshoorn and Mossel Bay, and the Panhard car was the first to appear in the town, in 1904.

Oxwagon for transporting goods Panhard car, 1904

The first ‘boom’ in the ostrich industry attracted a large number of Jews to the town, mainly from Eastern Europe where they were persecuted by the Russians. In the museum is part of the synagogue which previously stood in St Johns Street; today the synagogue is in Baron van Rheede Street.

The synagogue in the Museum

And wealthy men lived in gracious homes. Mr C M Lind was a local attorney who commissioned Charles Bullock to design his home, Gottland House 1902, which is now a residential home for the elderly.

Gottland House 1908
Gottland House 1902
Gottland House, 1908
Gottland House, 1902

There are many lovely homes in quiet streets, sheltered by trees and gardens.

St Saviour Street, Oudtshoorn

Oudtshoorn

Dutch Reformed Church Parsonage in High Street, 1881
Dutch Reformed Church Parsonage in High Street, 1881

16-2-16 Oudtshoorn LR-0478

Creeper in Oudtshoorn

Railings in Oudtshoorn

Creeper in Oudtshoorn

You may be interested in
Oudtshoorn – very good website with everything you need to know
Langenhoven – Poet of Oudtshoorn
Historical sites in Oudtshoorn

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