Historic Match in Barberton!

 On Saturday the Lions will be playing the Mpumalanga Pumas in Barberton, the small little Lowveld town in Mpumalanga, famous for being one of the richest in gold resources in South Africa.  It is also the home of the Barberton Daisy, and emblem of the Northern Transvaal and Blue Bulls.

Barberton was established in the 1880’s, when the Barber brothers discovered gold in the mountains.  I won’t bore you with the history of gold diggers,first gold mining in South Africa,  illustrious hotels, horse racing, famous “bar ladies”, the first South African Stock Exchange, concentration camp, one of the largest prisons in South Africa, the oldest rocks in the world and the home of Jock of the Bushveld, all part of the rich history of my home town.

Eureka City Racecourse


But want to elaborate a little bit on the history attached the Coronation Park, the field where the Lions will be taking on the Pumas.

To my knowledge, this will be the first time in history that a match of this caliber will be played on this unique Rugby field.  Today the home of Barberton Rugby Club, Coronation Park is steeped in History as much as the historic town itself.

Mapole Dancing Event

It was set aside as public grounds shortly after the establishment of Barberton in 1884 and was always an important point of gathering for the local town’s folk.  Paging through old photographs of the town, you see maypole dancing events with girls stylishly dressed in Victorian whites some time in the 1890’s.   On 26 June 1902,  a joyful event was with the coronation festivities of King Edward VII, eldest son of Queen Victoria.

The Wild Fig tree with Bandstand

This occasion also marked the christening of the park with it’s shade wild fig tree overlooking the steel benches and the famous bandstand against the backdrop of the Makwonja Mountains clearly visible.  The Gold Fields News of 15 August 1902 reports:

Thanksgiving and military parade held at Coronation Park.  The day was graced with a performance of lady members of the local Saints’ Church of England Choir, and on the square itself, drawn up in close order, were the troops of the local garrison, and a small detachment of South African Constabulary.

The same prominent tree and Victorian bandstand  is also visible on one of the earliest panoramic shots of the town.  The same bandstand, lavishly decorated with Union Jacks form the backdrop for the Barberton Philharmonic Society with their performance to commemorate the Union of South Africa on May 31, 1990.

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