Once the capital of the Nieuwe Republiek, and incorporated into the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek, in 1884, Vryheid (Freedom) became a focal point for German immigration which continues to inform this modern, progressive town. Many examples of Tudor and Edwardian architecture stand among the numerous historic landmarks
Battles & Sites:
Blood River Poort:
The Boer Leaders in the field were still determined to pursue the war in August 1901. They invaded Natal and battles were fought at the Blood River Poort, Itala and Fort Prospect.
At Blood River Poort, General Botha ambushed a column of General Gough's forces, who had been sent to counter the Second Boer offensive.The British defended bravely, but due to the fact that they had been completely surrounded by Boer forces they were forced to surrender. What was particularly significant was the fact that the Boers managed to capture 30 000 rounds of ammunition, 180 carbines and about 210 horses. These were supplies they desperately needed, to continue their campaign.
On the 28 March 1879, Col. Wood was ordered to engage the abaQulasi, an independent clan, who had occupied Hlobane, a flat topped and steep sided mountain east of the Umfolozi and approximately 20km from Vryheid. A Zulu impi of approximately 20 000 warriors came to the aid of this clan and a large component of Woods forces were massacred. As a result Wood retired to Kambula.Location - on the Hlobane Road, 20km from Vryheid.
At this site, on 6 May 1902, 56 burgers were killed by a Zulu impi on the Zunguin Mountain. The small party was suddenly overwhelmed despite fierce resistance. 30 km north of Vryheid, on the dirt road to Zunguin Mountain.
The battle took place on 29 March 1879 during the Anglo-Zulu war. Some 18000 Zulu warriors attacked a fortified position of the fourth column. The battle started at 13h30 and ended at 17h30. The Zulus were driven off with great losses and pursued by cavalry until dark. This battlefield is located 20km north of Vryheid, west of the Paulpietersburg Road. For more information contact 034-982 2133
The Boers had retreated from northern Natal and the south-eastern corner of the Zuid-Afrikannsche Republiek by June 1900. this was as a result of the offensive of General Buller. Utrecht, Vryheid and Wakkerstroom were then occupied by forces under Lieutenant-General Hildyard. In December 1900, the Boers decided to recapture Vryheid. They felt that the best way to do so was to secure Lancaster Hill, a hill which lies to the north of the town and overlooks it.
They were initially successful in their advance, but were eventually forced back as a result of the wire entanglements and breastworks which the British had established on this hill. This site is located in the Vryheid Nature Reserve, 1 km north of the centre of Vryheid. For more information please contact the Vryheid Information Bureau, 034-982 2133.
The battle occurred on 20 May 1900. A commando of 75 Swaziland police and a few Vryheid burgers were stationed at Scheepersnek. In the middle of a church service a company of Bethunes Mounted Infantry arrived unexpectedly. After a short sharp skirmish the British were forced to withdraw. The site is 10km before Vryheid on the R33. Situated on a private farm.
Monuments & Memorials
58 President Street:
This Tudor-style dwelling was erected in 1920. The old house was declared a national monument in December 1981
95 President Street:
The house is rectangular, being constructed of local stone with two bay windows in the front facade and a centrally placed modern front door set into the original frame. It is a national monument.
The Bosh of House is a national monument.219 East Street.
Dutch Reformed Church:
This church was erected in 1894 and opened by President Lucas Meijer of the Nuwe Republiek.It is built from local stone in Gothic Style with Victorian characteristics. It is a national monument. 131 High Street, Vryheid.
Gunpoints Lancaster Hill:
The gun emplacements, one on the north side and one to the south on Lancaster hill, date to the Anglo-Boer War of 1899 to 1902. Action was seen here on 11 and 12 December 1900 when Gen. Louis Botha attacked the garrison under Col. Gawne. The Site Was Declared A National Monument In July 1982. Found 1km north of Vryheid. Telephone 034-482 2133.
The magistrate's office and jail were built in 1894 and are still in use. The building is a national monument.Church Street/ Landdrost Street.
Lucas Meijer House:
The home was built in 1884 by Lucas Meier for his wife. It is built in Cape Dutch style with late Art Nouveau Decorations. It is a national monument. Landdrost Street.
Old 'Bantu' Administration Building:
The old building is a national monument. Landdrost Street, Vryheid.
Vryheid High School:
Vryheid High School was opened on 5 February 1906. It is a national monument. Church Street.
House of Lucas Meyer:
President Lucas Meyer acquired the property in 1885. The residence was later enlarged and now houses a cultural historical museum. Cnr. Landdrost Street/Markstreet.
Old Raadsaal(Council Chamber):
The Nieuwe Republiek (New Republic) Fort was built in 1884, and in 1887 the four cells of the prison were added. The building served as the parliament building for the Nieuwe Republiek under Lucas Meijer (Meyer). The prison cells are built of Whinstone imported from the Free State. They contain a very interesting gun collection. Landdrost Street.
Old Carnegie library:
The Carnegie Library was opened in 1909 with money donated by the American Carnegie Foundation. It served as a Museum Library to 1968, and opened as a Museum and Publicity Office in 1984. It is a national monument.Cnr of Landdrost Street and Mark Street.
Nieuwe Republiek Museum:
The period of the Nieuwe Republiek is a major theme of this museum. Other aspects of local history are also covered as well as the wars fought in this region.Landdrost Street.
Other Cultural Attractions
This was a stone, Laager Fort. It was built by Wood's Column between 19 and 21 Jan 1879 and garrisoned briefly by a company from the 1/13th and 90th light infantry.Located 15km south of Vryheid.