After the London Missionary Society’s mission station on the banks of the Buffalo River had been destroyed, the Governor, Sir Benjamin D’Urban, wanted to rebuild it and establish a town named after King William IV of Britain. When the British Government turned down his application to extend the territory of the Cape, the land was returned to the Xhosa nation. However, the mission station was subsequently rebuilt, local traders soon started meeting around the station and a town eventually developed. The town boasts a large number of historical buildings. Today, King William’s Town is part of the greater Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality.
Adventure And Sport
Hiking: Several hiking trails traverse the countryside.
Trout- and bass-fishing. International trout-fishing competitions are often hosted at the Maden Dam.
Bass-fishing, sail-boating and board-sailing can be enjoyed at the Rooikrantz Dam.
Fauna And Flora
Botanical Gardens: King William’s Town is justifiably proud of its botanical gardens and its nature reserve where many species of indigenous flora grow unhindered.
History And Architecture
Amatole Museum: The Amatole Museum, formerly the Kaffrarian Museum, was founded in 1884 by the local naturalist society. The second largest collection of mammals in South Africa, 40 000 in total, can be seen here. One of the most interesting exhibits is Huberta, the legendary hippopotamus, who made a journey of over 800 km from the Richards Bay area in KwaZulu-Natal to Port St Johns where she stayed for about six months. Travelling southwards, she was eventually shot by hunters on the banks of the Keiskamma River. Huberta had been on the road from 1928 until 1930. The museum also houses exhibits on the history of the German population and the indigenous Xhosa people.
British Kaffrarian Savings Bank: The British Kaffrarian Savings Bank has housed the local financial institution since the nineteenth century.
Canons: The four muzzle-loading cannons at the base of the Queen Victoria Memorial, unveiled in 1800, were added years after the memorial was built.
Engineers Lane: A trip down Engineers Lane includes a visit to the old military hospital and blacksmith shop housed in the former Royal Engineers Officers’ Mess.
Fort Murray: The fort was built on the banks of the Buffalo River, in 1848, after the Seventh Frontier War.
Grey Hospital: The hospital was built in 1859 by the then Governor of the Cape, Sir George Grey.
Old cannon: The old cannon on the Old Military Reserve was presented to the town by Maj. Gen. Frederick Eardley-Wilmot, in memory of his brother, who was killed during the Eighth Frontier War.
Old Residency: The former home of the Governor, Sir Harry Smith, was built in 1826.
South African Missionary Museum: The museum was established in the former Methodist Church that dates back to 1855. Exhibits focus on the eventful missionary history of the area.
Steve Biko’s Grave: Steve Biko’s Grave at Ginsberg is the last resting place of this famous political martyr.
Town Hall: The stately Town Hall was built in 1867 and often hosts events in its small theatre.