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 Lodge, which I highly recommend.
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!
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are many lovely homes in quiet streets, sheltered by trees and gardens.