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History of Cradock

The district of which Cradock is now the centre was first settled by Dutch farmers in the late 18th century, but was known long before to the hunters who illicitly crossed the frontier in search of game and ivory. The first official Dutch expedition to the upper Great Fish River was in mid-1752 when a party led by Ensign August Frederik Beutler visited the area.

In 1813, the British government established a military post at the confluence of the Great Fish River and the Cradock spruit. The post was named Fort Cradock after Sir John Cradock, the Governor of the Cape Colony at the time. The fort was intended to protect the frontier from Xhosa attacks and to provide a base for British expansion into the interior.

The town of Cradock grew up around the fort and was officially founded in 1815. The town was initially used as a staging post for British troops and settlers moving into the interior. However, it soon became a thriving agricultural centre, thanks to its fertile soil and abundant water supply.

Cradock played an important role in the Great Trek of 1835-1837, when thousands of Boers left the Cape Colony to establish their own independent republics in the interior. The town was a major supply depot for the Voortrekkers and many of them passed through Cradock on their way to Natal and the Transvaal.

In the 19th century, Cradock was also a major centre for the ostrich farming industry. The town was home to several ostrich feather processing factories and the feathers from Cradock ostriches were exported all over the world.

Cradock continued to grow and prosper in the 20th century. The town became a major centre for wool and mohair production and it also developed a strong manufacturing sector. Today, Cradock is a thriving agricultural and industrial town with a population of over 30,000 people.

The town is home to a number of historical buildings, including the old Dutch Reformed church, the Great Fish River Museum, and the Olive Schreiner House. Schreiner was a famous South African writer who lived in Cradock for a number of years.

 

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