Things To Do in LadysmithLadysmith Siege Museum
Where? Murchison Street, Ladysmith, KwaZulu Natal.
When? Please enquire
How? Call +27 (0)36 637-2231
How much? Falls into price group R1 to R100 per person. Confirm with the provider.
The Ladysmith Siege Museum, on Murchison Street next to the Ladysmith Town Hall, is housed in a building built in 1884 - regarded both here and abroad as one of the best Anglo Boer War museums in the country. It brings the whole period of the siege to life using black and white photographs, electronic mapping, documents and artefacts from the period.
The building itself was originally a ration post for civilians during the siege, but afterwards maintained its association with food by serving as a marketplace, then as a museum and library. Only in 1985 was it converted for use as a museum only. You can take guided tours but there are also a couple of pamphlets – the Siege Town Walkabout and the Siege town Drive-About – that allow one to do self-guided tours as well.
Ladysmith was under siege by Boer forces for just short of four months in late 1899 and early 1900. Because of its proximity to both Transvaal and Free State borders, the town served as the key strategic point for the British. Despite their having sent a regiment to defend the town as war broke out, Boers besieged Ladysmith and all communication and water supplies were cut, leaving 26 000 soldiers and 8 000 civilians trapped.
By the time the siege was broken, people were starving, and many had died of disease.
The Ladysmith Siege Museum covers both the siege and the greater story of the war, which arose as a consequence of British desire to incorporate South Africa into their empire after gold was discovered. Despite this, it was the Boers who began the initial offensive, when they crossed the border into the British stronghold of Natal.