Queenstown Monuments and historical buildings
Queenstown’s unusual layout around a central hexagon reflects its origin as a defensive stronghold for the frontier area.
The central hexagonal area around which the town is laid out, was intended to provide refuge for the British residents in time of attack, while canon or rifle fire could be directed down the six thoroughfares radiating from it. Fortunately, the hexagon never was used for its intended purpose. Subsequently, the hexagon became a market place and later, the canon sites were replaced with gardens with a fountain in the centre. An abstract sculpture replaced the fountain as part of the town’s 150th anniversary in 2003. Today, the Hexagon remains a distinguishing feature of Queenstown.
The Fist World War Memorial:
The inscription reads:
TO THE GLORIOUS MEMORY OF
THE MEN OF QUEENSTOWN AND
DISTRICT WHO GAVE THEIR
LIVES IN THE GREAT WAR
This is a memorial of innocent young men from Queenstown who died in the battlefields in Europe. The mens age ranged from 18 – 25, many of these men just leaving school going straight to battle.
The Bonkolo Dam
Was called Bongola Dam, about 5 km from town on the Dordrecht road, is one of the town’s main sources of water. The wall was begun in 1905 and was for years the largest concrete dam wall in South Africa. Incidentally the origin of the name Bongola has cause some controversy, but it is believed by some to have been derived from the Xhosa word mbongolo meaning donkey, as these animals were extensively used in the construction of the dam.
Kaffrarian Steam Mill Co. Ltd – KSM
In 1950 it was decided to build a new wheat mill in Queenstown which would combine the capacity of the existing Queenstown and Molteno mills, bringing about the closure of the Molteno mill. Further rationalization closed the decade when the head office sited in King William’s Town, where there was no longer a mill, was moved to East London.
In 1952 the Kaffrarian Steam Mill Company Limited became a subsidiary of Tiger Oats Limited and Tiger entered the wheat milling industry for the first time.
The next twelve years saw extensive investments being made. Mills were upgraded, huge silos built and bulk handling facilities erected and commissioned. In 1976 a new maize mill was built from scratch in Queenstown.
By 1978 the name of The Kaffrarian Steam Mill Company Limited was formally changed to that of K S M Milling Company – a division of Tiger Milling and Feeds Limited.
In 1982 Tiger Oats itself was the subject of an acquisition which resulted in its current membership of the Barlow Rand group of Companies.
In 1991, R2,6 Million was spent in converting the East London Mill into a bulk-flour production site, mainly serving the Bakeries. The bulk out-loading system is fully controlled by a PLC computerized system. This means that the flour is electronically controlled and pneumatically moved. At a press of the button either white or brown flour is released to wherever it is required in whatever quantity needed.
In 1991 Queenstown was identified as the most suitable site to take up the extra maize production capacity required as a result of the closure of Radue Roller Mills, King William’s Town. With the expansion taking place in Queenstown it was decided to move the head office function there, making it the administrative capital for the region.
The Town Hall
The Town Hall foundation was laid in 1882 with the clock tower added in 1897 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee.
In addition to being the venue for theatrical and other productions, it still houses the municipal offices and seats the Town Council !! the purpose for which it was built.
The museum was built as a school but now houses, among many other interesting exhibits, a fully rebuilt and furnished frontier cottage. The history of the area is exceptionally well documented and illustrated in the most interesting manner. There is also a stone drinking fountain for horses, dating back to the Victoria era. The Museum is open Monday to Fridays from 08h30 to 12h45 and 14h00 to 16h45 (except on Wednesdays) and by appointment any other hours.
Mr. CE Ham set up a private school for boys, the Prospect House Academy. In 1858 it was taken over by the state as the Queenstown District School. That year is taken as the foundation date for Queen’s College. Today, all that remains of Mr. Ham’s original school is the lectern on the stage of the Memorial Hall (the present school hall). It was made out of a yellow wood beam salvaged from the old school building when it was demolished in 1949.
In 1867, Frederick Beswick opened a private school in the town and then the principal of a conglomerate of schools called Queenstown Boys’ Public School, whose headmaster he remained for 32 years. He really set education on a sound footing in Queenstown. His son, Alan, became the first Old Queenian to play rugby for South Africa. In 1910 the school was officially named Queen’s College.
The school continued to grow in size and stature and under Mr. A Parry Davies, who was headmaster from 1930 to 1940, Queen’s began to develop a distinctive character and spirit. The school’s prowess in the academic, sporting and cultural spheres became known far and wide and it began to attract pupils from all over South Africa and as far afield as Zimbabwe.
The core of the old stone school buildings (dating back to 1897) was retained when a new purpose designed modern school complex was built in 1973. Many valuable reminders of the school’s debt to the past are housed in the Queen’s College Museum in the “Old School”, which was itself declared a historical monument in 1980.