A trip back in time in the Garden Town

2018-10-11 06:02
< Anika de Beer next to one of the exhibits at the Old Railway Station Museum.Photo:SAMKEL   GIYOSE

< Anika de Beer next to one of the exhibits at the Old Railway Station Museum.Photo:SAMKEL GIYOSE

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If I were playing a game and told you to say the first thing that came to mind when I say “Uitenhage”, you would probably reply, “Volkswagen”.

But what do we really know about this town and its history? During a tour of the three Uitenhage Historical Museum sites, I realised that despite growing up about 10km away and going there frequently, I knew very little about the town itself.

It was founded in 1804 by Jacob Glen Cuyler and was named after the Cape’s Commissioner-General Jacob Abraham Uitenhage de Mist.

Samkelo Giyose, an education officer at the museum, was my guide for the day through the Drostdy, Cuyler Manor and Old Railway Station Museum sites.

“Each has its own, unique story to tell about this town and the people,” he said.

Drostdy tells the history of Uitenhage and the surrounding areas, and also incorporates a few fun facts about the country, such as the National Orders, coat of arms of South Africa and the history of the Khoisan.

According to Giyose, they get
people, especially groups of learners on school outings, from all over the country at the museum, but rarely any locals.

“We don’t want to be tourists in our own city. I don’t know why,” he said.

They keep up with the syllabus at schools and will go out of their way to plan an interesting lesson for the learners who pass through.

I had a blast exploring the three old buildings and all the fascinating things that were on display. An ancient telephone, dresses that I hope will never come back into fashion and some quirky farm animals were the highlights of my day.

The quirky farm animals are kept at Cuyler Manor, which is a historical farm museum. One of its best features is in the main house, where Jacob Glen Cuyler and his family used to live: the mortuary.

I learned so many things about Uitenhage that I never would have imagined, but I’m not about to reveal every secret this town holds.

I will leave you with a little bit of a hint, though, to get you going. When you get around to taking a tour of the three sites, make sure to ask about the baboon at the Old Railway Station Museum and the table in the foyer of Cuyler’s house.


  • Drostdy Museum is located at 50 Caledon Street, Old Railway Station Museum in Market Street and the Cuyler Manor Museum along the Old PE Uitenhage Road.
  • Entry to each museum is only R5 per person or R10 if you would like a guided tour. Bookings are not required, but advised.
  • Contact the Drostdy Museum at 041 992 2063, the Cuyler Manor Museum at 041 922 0372 or uitenhagemuseum@intekom.co.za.

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