Graham's Town - Encyclopedia

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GRAHAM'S TOWN, a city of South Africa, the administrative centre for the eastern part of the Cape province, 106 m. by rail N.E. of Port Elizabeth and 43 m. by rail N.N.W. of Port Alfred. Pop. (1904) 13,887, of whom 7283 were whites and 1837 were electors. The town is built in a basin of the grassy hills forming the spurs of the Zuurberg, 1760 ft. above sea-level. It is a pleasant place of residence, has a remarkably healthy climate, and is regarded as the most English-like town in the Cape. The streets are broad, and most of them lined with trees. In the High Street are the law courts, the Anglican cathedral of St George, built from designs by Sir Gilbert Scott, and Commemoration Chapel, the chief place of worship of the Wesleyans, erected by the British emigrants of 1820. The Roman Catholic cathedral of St Patrick, a Gothic building, is to the left of the High Street. The town hall, also in the Gothic style, has a square clock tower built on arches over the pavement. Graham's Town is one of the chief educational centres in the Cape province. Besides the public schools and the Rhodes University College (which in 1904 took over part of the work carried on since 1855 by St Andrew's College), scholastic institutions are maintained by religious bodies. The town possesses two large hospitals, which receive patients from all parts of South Africa, and the government bacteriological institute. It is the centre of trade for an extensive pastoral and agricultural district. Owing to the sour quality of the herbage in the surrounding zuurveld, stock-breeding and wool-growing have been, however, to some extent replaced by ostrich-farming, for which industry Graham's Town is the most important entreptit. Dairy farming is much practised in the neighbourhood.

In 1812 the site of the town was chosen as the headquarters of the British troops engaged in protecting the frontier of Cape Colony from the inroads of the Kaffirs, and it was named after Colonel John Graham (1778-1821), then commanding the forces. (Graham had commanded the light infantry battalion at the taking of the Cape by the British in the action of the 6th of January 1806. He also took part in campaigns in Italy and Holland during the Napoleonic wars.) In 1819 an attempt was made by the Kaffirs to surprise Graham's Town, and 10,000 men attacked it, but they were repulsed by the garrison, which numbered not more than 320 men, infantry and artillery, under Lieut.-Colonel (afterwards General Sir) Thomas Willshire. In 1822 the town was chosen as the headquarters of the 4000 British immigrants who had reached Cape Colony in 1820. It has maintained its position as the most important inland town of the eastern part of the Cape province. In 1864 the Cape parliament met in Graham's Town, the only instance of the legislature sitting elsewhere than in Cape Town. It is governed by a municipality. The rateable value in 1906 was £891,536 and the rate levied 22d. in the pound.

See T. Sheffield, The Story of the Settlement ... (2nd ed., Graham's Town, 1884); C. T. Campbell, British South Africa ... with notices of some of the British Settlers of 1820 (London, 1897).

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