Ladysmith, Battlefields

Ladysmith today acts as a commercial centre for the large surrounding farming district became the centre of attention during the Anglo Boer War, both locally and overseas, when it fell under siege from October 1899 to March 1900.

Set on the banks of the Klip River, and named after Sir Harry Smith’s Spanish wife, Ladysmith was established in 1850 and served as a staging-post for fortune hunters on their way to the gold fields in the then Transvaal, and the diamond diggings at Kimberley. Today it serves as a gateway to the central and northern Drakensberg, the peaks of which form an elegant backdrop to the town, particularly in winter when a light blanket of snow graces its pinnacles.

The siege of Ladysmith placed the British in a precarious position. About 12 000 British soldiers were faced with the defence of a besieged town, whilst the Boers saw this as a strategic move that could topple Great Britain.

Interestingly, at this time in history there was avid interest in postcards - similar to today’s blogging boom. With the outbreak of war, British editors began producing postcards that exalted the Empire and its politicians. Germany, although officially linked to Britain was trying to overpower her at sea, and produced a couple of pro-Boer postcards that showed Ladysmith falling into the hands of the Boers, with Ladysmith portrayed as a handsome woman.

The Qeduzi dam, which lived up to its name of ‘suffering’ by flooding its banks on an annual basis for some 150 years, lies about 4 kilometres outside of Ladysmith; whilst the Spioenkop Nature Reserve, 6000 hectares 35 kilometres from Ladysmith, lies just next to the Spioenkop Anglo-Boer War battle site and offers the water lover yachting, fishing and water-skiing opportunities.

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