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A description of the history of Barberton Mpumalanga South Africa, and the history of Barberton, with types of accommodation, restaurants, entertainment and tourist attractions






A description of the history of Barberton Mpumalanga South Africa, and the history of Barberton, with types of accommodation, restaurants, entertainment and tourist attractions and geological "greenbelt" information


Compiled by Louis-John Havemann

I have used among others the author T.V.Bulpin's writings in no small measure to compile this summary



Barberton is a town in Mpumalanga South Africa that is renowned for its historical significance. Once the scene of a hectic gold rush, it now hosts many tourist attractions of an historical nature.

There are many varied types of accommodation in Barberton, ranging from b & b accommodation, to self catering accommodation, to luxury lodges and hotels, to exclusive game lodges and game reserves. The warm hospitality of Barberton's varied accommodation makes for a rewarding stay.

The Barberton Daisy was discovered in 1884 in Barberton by Robert Jameson, after whom it is named: Gerbera Jamesonii.The legendary barmaid Cockney Liz suggested that it be called the "Barberton Daisy"


Barberton personalities







Barberton daisy gerbera Jamesonii courtesy of Barberton Valley in Mpumalanga also known as The Valley of Death. Poto by courtesy of Barberton daisy gerbera Jamesonii courtesy of



Gold was found on the farms Ameide and Oorschot, three to five miles west of the present town of Barberton, forming part of the block of 13 farms constituting "Moodie's" concession - given to him by the Transvaal government for his work surveying a railway route from Delagoa Bay, now Maputo, to Pretoria. The Transvaal government had no money to pay Moodie so he was given 13 farms for his efforts


Henry (Harry) Mitford Barberton

Graham Hoare Barber

Fred H. Barber



Auguste Robert aka "French Bob" found gold in 1883 and pegged the famous Pioneer Reef in De Kaap Valley. Picture by courtesy of Nem Uit Die Verlede by U de V. Pienaar

Auguste Robert known as "FRENCH BOB", discovered gold on the North Kaap River and pegged the first claims at what became James Town in "The Valley of Death" in 1883, this led to the Barberton gold rush.


James Town was named after Ingram James who was the first person to discover alluvial gold in the Noord Kaap River " French Bob" approached Moodie for the right to mine under special privilege as discoverer, which Moodie had no right to grant. He was willing to trade fairly with "French Bob" , but from the other diggers he claimed high licence fees and royalty on gold won. In terms of the Gold Law any licence's were payable to the state and the owner was entitled to half of such licence moneys.


The diggers rightly refused to pay licence's and royalty to Moodie, and also refused to quit working. An impasse ensued and Moodie commissioned Henry Nourse to act on his behalf. Nourse arrived, but on his way met Fred and Henry Barber and their cousin Graham, all experienced hunters, with a party en route to the hunting veld.


They decided to go with Nourse. The diggers,under the leadership of Henry Culverwell, refused to pay Moodie anything but also refused to quit. Eventually Culverwell and 28 others were arrested and taken to Pretoria where they were charged and acquitted, but Moodie obtained an interdict against them and they had to cease work. Moodie however, had to realize that he himself had no right to mine or permit mining, and it was not until August 1885 that he got a mining concession.


Eventually all the 13 farms of Moodie's Concession were brought within the Zuidkaap Goldfields on 28th May 1889.


Near the site is the British blockhouse, Fernlea House, Belhaven and many other historic buildings. Rimers Creek is Part of the historic district of Barberton. Rimers Creek is being threatened by development and an ongoing legal battle is being fought for the protection of this Heritage site.




Jock of the Bushveld  The famous dog of Sir Percy FitzPatrick whose adventures are told in the book with the same name

Barberton was for some years, the home of Percy Fitzpatrick, the author of the classic book, "Jock of the


Sir Percy Fitzpatrick wrote Jock of the Bushveld in Europe in 1905 while recuperating from a persistent

illness he had first contracted in Pretoria Central Prison, where he had been incarcerated for his role in the

Jamison Raid and Reform Committee against the Transvaal Republic.

In front of the town hall of Barberton is a bronze statue of "Jock of the Bushveld".

The lounge of the Impala Hotel has a "Jock of the Bushveld" frieze.


Sir Percy Fitzpatrick worked as a "Transport Rider" through the Lowveld, along the Old Delagoa Road,

which was used between May and September (the dry disease-free winter months) by transport riders from

the Lydenburg Goldfields (Spitzkop, Mac Mac, Pilgrim’s Rest and Lydenburg and Barberton) to Delagoa

Bay, then Lourenco Marques now Maputo.


It was this route that served as the setting for many of Jock’s adventures.


This road, known as “The Old Transport Road” dated back to 1844 when Andries Potgieter and a party of

Boer horseman were tasked with finding a practical route between the Ohrigstad area and the port city of

Delagoa Bay.


The book tells of the adventures that immortalised Jock of the Bushveld as a legend of the Lowveld.
Picture by Edmund Caldwell







1 The site of the Central Mill in Rimer’s Creek, Barberton, was recently included on the list of the TOP TEN MOST ENDANGERED CULTURAL HERITAGE SITES IN SOUTH AFRICA. This followed a Call for Submissions from the Heritage Monitoring Project (HMP) in June 2016 and the Rimer’s Creek Interested and Affected Parties (I&APs) were delighted when their submission was included. Copy and paste the Heritage Portal site address below for further information and the Top Ten List.

2 The HMP is a civil society initiative to monitor and report on heritage law reform and enforcement, monitoring and evaluation that provides an independent voice for tracking progress of the realization of heritage and cultural rights in South Africa. The HMP’s mission is to strengthen transparency, accountability and responsible custodianship across the heritage sector which is done in collaboration with heritage bodies working across a wide range of disciplines.

3 This campaign is an annual initiative of the HMP and the Heritage Association of South Africa to identify and raise awareness of cultural heritage sites that are at significant risk from natural or manmade forces.

4 Rimer’s Creek (originally known as Umvoti Creek) is the historical heart of Barberton and considered sacrosanct by the local community. It is where Barberton began and there is no more important site related to Barberton’s origins. It is the place where the Barber brothers Fred and Henry and their cousin Graham discovered the Barber Reef in 1884 which led to a gold rush. Shortly thereafter the Rimer Brothers, James Cook and Richard Guy discovered the Umvoti Reef. The Central Mill is where the ore from their early workings was crushed and where the first ore from the historic Sheba Gold Mine was sent by Edwin Bray in 1885. The mill was owned by a syndicate to which the Rimers and Barbers belonged and was the nucleus around which Barberton developed. Rimer’s Creek is also the place where Barberton was born in 1884 when David Wilson, the Mining Commissioner, broke a bottle of gin on a rock and christened the town Barberton after the Barbers. There was apparently a choice between Barberton and Rimerton but as there were more Barbers than Rimers the vote went in favour of Barberton. However, to perpetuate the Rimers’ association with the area the Umvoti Creek was renamed Rimer’s Creek.

5 Despite the above the site is under serious threat and I&APs who have battled for nine years to prevent the rezoning to accommodate a heavy load truck parking lot have welcomed this decision because the historical significance – which has simply been denied by the developer and ignored by the municipality - has now been confirmed by an expert panel of judges. A Heritage Impact Assessment conducted several years ago recommending that the proposed development be rejected and the area be rehabilitated – supported by the Mpumalanga Heritage Resources Authority (MHRA) – was also ignored by the Developer and Umjindi Local Municipality (ULM)and swept under the carpet by the Mpumalanga Dept of Agriculture, Rural Development, Land and Environmental Affairs (MDARDLEA). I&APs also hope that inclusion on this list will highlight a process they believe was flawed from the outset and which has been brought to the attention of the Public Protector.


6 The current position is that the site is now completely walled in and instructions to stop from both the MHRA and the Inkomati Catchment Management Agency in February and March 2016 had no effect. A massive Berlin type wall – over 5 metres high in places - has also been erected in sections of the stream bed to accommodate the heavy load trucks and the entrance to where Barberton began is now denied to the community.


7 However, I&APs maintain that things are far from over and an Appeal has been lodged against the rezoning proclamation that appeared in the Provincial Gazette on 22 July 2016 -when the wall was almost complete - and a hearing is awaited. I&APs also allege that no attempts were made by ULM to notify them of this notice – despite an undertaking that they would and a written request from Town Planners acting on their behalf specifically requesting to be notified. Had had this notice not been spotted it could have all been over but it was seen and I&APs remain confident that justice will prevail.


8. For further interesting articles / background information refer the followingsites:

On behalf of the joint Appellants / Major I&APs, viz. the Umjindi Environmental Committee / Barberton / Umjindi Ratepayers Association / Mr Chris Rippon – Sheba Historical Society - on behalf of petitioners


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