Prince Albert Accommodation Self Catering

Prince Albert Information

Prince Albert

Prince Albert is situated at the foot of the Swartberg Mountain range and is blessed with a perennial water supply which belies the reputation of this arid region.

The Swartberg Mountain range is a World Heritage Site and part of the Cape Floral Kingdom, boasting the greatest number of plant species, particularly fynbos, in the world.

Swartberg Pass

Prince Albert History

The village of Prince Albert sprang from the loan farm Queekvalleij, established by Zacharias and Dina de Beer in 1762. The fertile valley soon attracted other farmers, church services were held on the market square and by 1844  an NG church had been built and a thriving community established.

Prince Albert in 1842 by Franz Xavier WinterhalterIn 1845 some parishioners suggested that the village be named Albertsburg after "Naar zijne Hoogheid" - his Royal Highness, Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's consort. The Governor's approval was granted in July and the village became known as Prince Albert.

By 1855 our weekly market had been established and Bishop Robert Gray - the first Anglican Bishop of Cape Town, visited the village and found it "very beautifully situated at the foot of the Zwart-berg mountains."

In 1857 a reading room was established, leading to the opening of our library in 1862 - one of the earliest in the Cape Colony. Queen Victoria sent a book of Prince Albert's speeches to the village in 1867, this can now be seen at the Fransie Pienaar Museum.

Sadly the original library burnt down in 1949 but ten years later our new library was opened - please visit to see a permanent display about the village compiled by our librarian.

The new NG Kerk in Kerkstraat was consecrated in 1865 and the following year Ds Adriaan Hofmeyer replaced the small organ with the splendid instrument currently in use. Annie Luttig was appointed church organist in 1892 and held the post for 58 years.

During the 1850's and 60's there was much building activity and Carel Lotz created his famous Prince Albert gables. While you are here, you might wish to go on a guided historical walk around the village to see our gables, well preserved examples of Karoo cottages, Victorian homes, former cinema's and our National monuments. Contact the Fransie Pienaar Museum 023 5411 172 or the Tourism Association Office 023 5411 366

In 1881 construction began in the Swartberg Pass but it was only in 1883, when Thomas Bain took over the project, that work started in earnest. In 1886 the pass was opened to the public - but at their own risk, as construction was still under way. The post-coach left the Prince Albert Hotel every morning at 6.00am, on one occasion the driver stopped at the little settlement at the top of the pass for a cup of coffee and returned to find his coach gone - the horses had headed back towards Prince Albert and the warmth of their stable. The Swartberg Pass was officially opened on 10th January 1888. In 1904 Dr Russell from Oudtshoorn drove the first motorcar over the pass.

In 1891 a shepherd found a gold nugget on the farm Klein Waterval and the Prince Albert Gold Rush started. Enthusiastic miners predicted another Witwatersrand but only 504 ounces of gold were mined from the 1042 registered claims.  Relics of the goldrush can be seen at our museum.

The Anglo-Boer War broke out in 1899. A British garrison was established here and there were a few skirmishes between commando's and troops in the area. Boer Commandant Gideon Scheepers was taken captive on the farm  Kopjeskraal and later executed in Graaff-Reinet. Boers seized the mail-coach horses near Botterkraal in 1901.

1912 saw the first issue of a weekly newspaper, The Prince Albert Friend/De Prince Albert Vriend which was published in Dutch and English - the tradition continues, buy your copy of our monthly newspaper at the Tourism Association Office.

Prince Albert Map

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