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History of Middelburg

Middelburg in the Eastern Cape was founded in 1852, as a midway point between Graaff-Reinet and Colesberg.

The Dutch Reformed Church of Colesberg gave permission for a new congregation to be seceded. Thus the Middelburg Dutch Reformed Church came to being on 19 May 1852, and according to the government Gazette of 19 June 1852, the Seat of Magistracy was announced for Middelburg.

Three farms were considered for the town and the farm Driefontein was bought from Jan Coetzee for 40 000 riksdaalders (R6 000). The town was originally called “Middelpunt” (Afrikaans for “midpoint”), but the name was changed to Middelburg in 1853.

The town grew rapidly in the early years, and by 1860 it had a population of over 1,000 people. Middelburg became an important trading post for the surrounding area, and its economy was based on agriculture, livestock, and wool.

The town played a significant role in the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902. The British established a military camp and training centre at Grootfontein, a farm just outside Middelburg. About 7,000 troops from the Third Manchester Regiment were stationed at Grootfontein, and some of them were married, so about 3,000 women and children also lived there.

After the war, Middelburg continued to grow and prosper. The town’s economy diversified, and new industries such as brickmaking, tanning, and furniture making were established. Middelburg also became a popular tourist destination, due to its scenic location in the Great Karoo.

Today, Middelburg is a thriving town with a population of over 15,000 people. The town is home to a number of historical buildings, including the Dutch Reformed Church, the Grootfontein College of Agriculture, and the Ouberg Hill Monument. Middelburg is also a popular destination for hiking, birdwatching, and other outdoor activities.

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