Kirkwood “Its not a one horse town”

“More like a one donkey town”………….Well just got back from the Easter camp in Kirkwood and here is how you spell it………… DUMP. We were welcomed into the village by the traffic department who are taking the MEC of transports memo to heart “stop 85 000 drivers per month in the Eastern Cape” I was stopped for speeding 83 in a 60 zone…………So welcome to Kirkwood enjoy your stay here is a R200 fine, “Frikken awesome”

The rural community of Kirkwood has a Main street, called “main street funnily enough” and has the usual Chinese (they are the small yellow people are taking over folks, believe they are now even in Clarens, Africa is being colonized again ladies and gents) as well as the designer cloths store P.E.P and a multitude of café’s “Slash” grocers run by various nationalities. There is a very nice hotel in town , that is closed except for the 2 bars a) ladies and b) men’s…..both closed when I went to have a drink but this sign on the door of the men’s pub made me real glad that it was closed.

On Saturday night while Tania was at a church service I went to find “life” and watch the Sharks play the Highlanders, managed to find a nice up-market restaurant/pub that would not out of place in Clarens, but was really out of place on Main street in Kirkwood. The people (all 4 of them) were however nice enough and I watched the rugby with Willem, Hannes and wait for it “Festis”. While Kirkwood as a hamlet cannot match to Clarens, it would seem from speaking to my new mates that the politics stay the same no matter were you go, with them telling me about people that I know in Clarens.

Sunday I took a walk round the Village to take some photos and see if my first impressions were in fact a little harsh, “always trust your first impressions”. I did however get a few nice photos and this sign actually caught my eye straight away, seems there are openings if anyone is interested.

Ok well what about the camp, on a scale of 1-10 I would give it a 6, on Saturday night we had a local Shebeen playing music till about 2am and then the local orange pickers starting at 3am with their Easter service. Up at 6 am, good walk around the village, Volley ball and then a cricket game between the youngsters and the old farts (yep I was on the old farts team) and we got our asses handed to us. Accompanied Tania to the Sunday night service as it was an American talking and Tania had told me that she had seen him here in PE two weeks ago and that he was good…………”Well that’s 2 hours of my life I wont get back.”

Sunday up early again (no disco or orange picker service, but the cockerels had their annual crowing competition from about 4.30am……”Very inspiring” Broke camp and got home , early afternoon, Cant wait to sleep on my bed tonight. Met a few interesting people, took some half decent photos and met Festis… the weekend was not a total blowout, will I be going back to Kirkwood I hear you ask? Well probably to next years Easter camp (need revenge in the cricket) but not before.

The area we camped was at Kirkwood High School and have to say was well organized, with water and electricity, the school itself was established in 1932 and has produced 3 Springbok rugby players since 1965. Oh yeah Kirkwood is the place in SA that has the highest recorded temperature 50.4 degrees, although my 3 new friends say that they have experienced temperatures of 54 degrees………”Now that’s hot”

The Following info I took from Wikipedia……….”Enjoy”

The Governor of the Cape Colony, Sir John Francis Cradock, gave the first farms in the Sundays River Valley to the leaders of the successful burger commandos for their role in the victories in the border wars of 1811 and 1812. These farms were awarded to Magistrate Cuyler (originally from the United States) of Uitenhage, who received Geelhoutboom (Yellow Tree, later Dunbrody); Commandant Ignatius Muller, who received Klaaskraal (Klaas' Corral, situated just outside what is now Kirkwood) and Field Cornet J.S. van Niekerk, who received Gouwernements Belooning (Government's Reward). It is on the latter farm that Kirkwood would be established many decades later.

In 1877 James Somers Kirkwood, an auctioneer from Port Elizabeth, arrived to auction off Gouwernements Belooning. When a flooded Sundays River prevented Kirkwood from reaching this farm he climbed a nearby hill (known today as The Lookout) instead. From there he had a view of the entire valley and had a vision of the valley - which was overgrown by bushes at the time - being transformed into irrigated fields with fruit trees. He also envisioned this farm produce being delivered via river barges to Port Elizabeth. Shortly afterwards, James himself purchased Goewernements Belooning" as well as some other farms in the valley. He subsequently founded the Sundays River Land and Irrigation Company as well as the village of Bayville.

Later, Kirkwood started to prepare the land for irrigation, but despite of a very positive prospectus and very good publicity, nobody was interested in buying stock in his venture. One of the reasons may be that it coincided with the big diamond rush to Kimberley. In consequence, his company eventually failed and was declared bankrupt. Kirkwood died in 1889, a financially and spiritually broken man. However, Kirkwood can be considered to have been ahead of his time as his vision became true in the next century when the Sundays River Irrigation Project and eventually the Orange River Water Project were built. His name also lives on in the town of Kirkwood that was founded in 1912 on his first farm, Gouwernements Belooning.

At the beginning of the 19th century, the Sundays River formed the eastern border of the then Cape Colony and was the area around Kirkwood consequently the scene of many armed conflicts - Khoi against Xhosa, Khoi and Xhosa together against the Boers and British together and finally the Boers against the British during the Second Anglo-Boer War. During this war, General Jan Smuts and his Commando of 250 men passed through the valley on their epic campaign to the northwest. Indeed, the three Boers who died the furthest south during the war were killed on Cecil John Rhodes's farm Brakkefontein. Shortly after these casualties were incurred a major battle took place on the Bedrogsfontein mountain pass.[2] Kirkwood's subtropical climate makes it ideal for the growing of citrus fruits and this has made it the citrus capital of the Eastern Cape. Indeed, Kirkwood is the center of one of the largest citrus-growing regions in South Africa with approximately 120 square kilometres (30,000 acres) of citrus orchards. Approximately 8 million cartons of oranges, lemons, grapefruit and other citrus fruit are exported from this region each year.

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