Fourth oldest town and buildings in SA
After Cape Town, Stellenbosch and Swellendam, Tulbagh is the fourth oldest town in South Africa and dates back to the early 1700s. The charming Church Street boasts the largest number of Cape Dutch, Edwardian and Victorian provincial heritage sites in one street in South Africa, all lovingly restored post the devastating earthquake of 1969 and must be visited, or you haven't experienced Tulbagh.
Boland Earthquake Sept 1969
In September 1969 the Boland area was hit by an earthquake that caused considerable damage to the town of Tulbagh. Many of the Church Street buildings were destroyed. The extent of the damage was aptly described by the Journal Bulletin of the Simon van der Stel Foundation in 1973 as:
"A street that somehow captured the essential spirit of a unique culture looked as if it was in the throes of a nightmare: many fine gables had either tumbled or were totally destroyed, whole sections of many houses had collapsed, most of the soft brick walls had burst open in wide cracks, plaster had been torn by off in large sheets, rafters and roofs had caved in. Everything appeared to be in total and irreparable ruin."
After the disaster in Church Street extensive projects of restoration began with the National Committee for the Restoration of Historic Buildings in Tulbagh and its Environment. As a result of this work Tulbagh now contains possibly the largest number of Cape-Dutch, Edwardian and Victorian provincial heritage sites in one street in South Africa, and Church Street remains a major tourist attraction of the town to the present day.
The work started by the committee has been continued to the present day by various residents of Tulbagh, but also significantly by the Tulbagh Valley Heritage Foundation which aims to restore and maintain "all structures older than 60 years, the cultural landscape and undeveloped properties connected to the historical structures above".
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