The duration of this facilitated or self-guided tour is two to three hours. Starting from the War Memorial in the centre of Dundee, you will follow your guide through the centre of Dundee and hear tales of the buildings, the people and history brought to life.
This is a walking heritage trail in the historic town of Dundee. Dundee and the surrounding area is rich in history and has numerous historical buildings and sites which are a testament to our past heritage.
You can either do this tour as a self-guided trail using the Heritage Trail booklet or you can arrange to be accompanied by an experienced and knowledgeable guide to walk you through the centre of Dundee.
A guide will provide considerably more information than what will be found in the printed booklet and having a guide also allows for interaction and questions.
In 1899 at the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War, Dundee was the centre of South Africa’s coal mine industry and this influenced the growth and development of the town. The Dundee Heritage trail includes buildings and sites that relate to the establishment and development of the town, coal mining, Mahatma Gandhi, battle of Talana, and missions. Each building or site (as some of the original buildings no longer exist but form an important part of the history) has a plaque with information and photographs. Scan the QR code on each plaque and this will take you to www.tourdundee.co.za for more detailed information.
Some of the buildings and sites visited are (these include private homes, churches, businesses and government buildings):
• Boswells – the third Masonic Lodge to be built in Dundee. In 1901 the furniture that was looted from homes in town during the Boer occupation were stored in this building for the local residents to claim and remove, after their return to the town. At the end of the war, the “Treason Trials” of the Natal rebels were held in this building.
• The Old Dundee Court house – Officially opened in 1903, this is the only building in South Africa which bears the coat of arms of Edward VII. Mahatma Gandhi was tried in this court on 11 November 1913 for inciting Indians to leave Natal and cross the border into the Transvaal (this was illegal for Indians as they required a permit) and sentenced to a £60 fine or 90 days in jail. He chose the 90 days but was released the next day.
• St James Anglican church, erected in 1898, has had a number of additions to it over the years. Inside the church are plaques listing the names of men who died during the Anglo-Boer War battles in Northern Natal. It is under the aisle of this church that Reverend Bailey buried the Union Jack flag in which General Penn Symons body had been wrapped. See the flag and read the story in the Talana Museum. General Penn Symons, Lieutenant Hannah (the first British soldier to be killed in the battle of Talana) and the Reverend Bailey are all buried in the churchyard.
• The Dutch Reformed church was designed by Gerard Moerdyk and completed in 1922. On the clock tower of this building is an impressive Anton von Wouw sculpture and plaque commemorating the Boers who fell in the battle of Talana. Although these men were originally buried on the top of Talana hill, their remains were reinterred under the clock tower in 1929.
In the garden near this memorial, is a concrete slab, on which are etched the marks of the wagon wheels from the wagons of the 1938 centenary trek as they made their way through Dundee and on to the site of the battle of Blood River/Ncome.
• In the Swedish Betania Mission churchyard in McKenzie Street, fifteen British soldiers and four Boers, all of whom died of wounds in a building near the church then used as a hospital, were laid to rest. General Penn Symons was carried, mortally wounded off the battlefield, to the Betania church and it was here that he died. His coffin draped in the Union Jack flag (which can be seen in Talana Museum), was carried along the streets of Dundee to the St James churchyard where he was buried.
• Dundee Power Station in Mckenzie Street Was built to provide Dundee with electricity in 1903. This building is still in use by the municipal electricity department. In 1903, after the Anglo-Boer War, electric street lights were installed in Dundee.
• 92 Mckenzie Street – The private home of Otto Siedle who owned Mine Stores in Glencoe. His daughter, Perle, trained as an opera singer and during the Second World War stood on the end of the pier in Durban harbour and sang to every troop ship entering or leaving the harbour—even on the day that she got the news of her own son’s death. Perle Siedle Gibson was known as the “Lady in White”. Growing up she spent many of her school holidays in this house. Hear not only stories of the local history but the also the traditions related to these buildings.