Stoep Stories No 27
Tuesday, 27th May 2014
STOEP STORIES - TALES FROM THE KAROO
Published by the Graaff-Reinet Heritage Society
NAUDE’S BERG PASS
By Ann Murray
There is a story that the Naude’s Berg owes its name to an unfortunate accident that befell an early Trek battling to cross the mountain. A young boy member of this trek in trying to board a moving wagon by stepping on to the disselboom slippep and fell under the wheels. He was killed instantly. His name was Naude and the mountain was named for him since he was buried on the slopes.
There is no proof of this story but other accidents have happened on the mountain.The pass today is a matter of a winding kilometre or two through a narrow gorge between steep dolorite “kranse” but in 1850 the businessmen of Graaff-Reinet realised that traveller’s traders and farmers with their wag on loads of wool were by passing the town on their journeys to and from Port Elizabeth. They were using the road through Cradock which was longer but in using the primitive pass the farmer unloaded his bales of wool at the top of the pass rolled them down the precipitous face following slowly along the so called road till he reached the bottom where he loaded them again. Both inconvenient and time- wasting!It was imperative to improve the road to the north and the daunting task of building the Naudesberg Pass was given to the famous road builder Andrew Geddes Bain.
After constructing several passes in the Cape Bain certainly had the knowhow but road building was both difficult and perilous in those days when equipment and tools were primitive and unsophisticated. Supplies on the pass were erratic problems arose and there were many frustrations. The labourers were threatening to leave since there were no sheep to slaughter for their rations these were bought in by the Clerk of Works Thomas Middlecott to avoid the work being brought to a halt. But a far greater problem was that the work could not continue because of no safety fuse for the blasting operations being received. The Head Overseer and Miner was using gunpowder (this was before the days of dynamite) and he was working without safety fuse. He was Edward Jones and on 14 September 1858 he lit a touch paper and exploded a blast in which he was caugt. He lived for only a few hours after the accident enduring great pain.Jones’s wife Frances Lucy Jones received a gratuity of 100 pounds from the Governor which was little enough recompense she moved to Port Elizabeth where it was easier to supplement her income and educate her children. She died there in 1906 at the age of 97 some of her childrens descendants are still living in Graaff -Reinet tracing their ancestry back to Edward Jones.
Photo courtesy of Garth Sampson.