What You Need To Know
Ladysmith is a city in the Uthukela District of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It lies 230 kilometres (140 mi) north-west of Durban and 365 kilometres (227 mi) south of Johannesburg. Important industries in the area include food processing, textiles, and tyre production. Motor vehicle tyres are produced by “Sumitomo Rubber South Africa” in the nearby town of Steadville. Ladysmith is the seat for both the Alfred Duma Local Municipality and Uthukela District Municipality.
In 1900, the unincorporated town of Oyster Harbour (established c. 1898) on the east coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, was renamed Ladysmith by James Dunsmuir, in honour of the British lifting the siege of Ladysmith in South Africa (28 February 1900) during the Second Boer War.
Area: 91,97 km²
Ladysmith has a subtropical highland climate (Cwb, according to the Köppen climate classification), with warm summers and cool, dry winters. It borders on a humid subtropical climate (Cwa). The average annual precipitation is 639 mm (25 in), with most rainfall occurring during summer.
• Zulu 64.3%
• English 22.8%
• Afrikaans 6.3%
• Sotho 2.2%
• Other 4.5%
Ladysmith is located on the banks of the Klip River (“stone river”), with the central business district and a large part of the residential areas located within the flood basin of the river. It is on the foothills of the Drakensberg mountains, about 26 km from the Van Reenen pass.
Since it was established the town has suffered severely from flooding of the Klip River. During the 110 years up to 1997 with the completion of the Qedusizi Dam, 29 serious floods occurred. Minor flooding occurred almost every year. The worst flooding in 30 years occurred in 1996 leading to R500 million in damages and the evacuation of 400 families. Efforts to control the flooding date back to the 1940s. In 1949 the Windsor Dam was completed, but this dam silted up very fast and was not an effective means of flood control.
Ladysmith has a growing business community and provides a wide range of goods and services to its residents and holiday makers. Ladysmith is not to be confused with Ladismith another town of the same name located in the Western Cape.
Three attempts by General Sir Redvers Buller to break the siege resulted in defeat for the British forces at the battles of Colenso, Spion Kop and Vaal Krantz. On 6 January 1900 the Boer forces of Commandant-General Piet Joubert attempted to end the siege by taking the town before the British could launch another attempt to break the siege. This led to the battle of Platrand (or Wagon Hill) south of the town.
Buller finally broke the siege on 28 February 1900 after defeating the Boers by using close cooperation between his infantry and artillery.
Sir Winston Churchill, then a young war correspondent for The Morning Post (London), was present at the Relief of Ladysmith after having been taken prisoner (between Ladysmith and Colenso) and escaping earlier during the war.
Mohandas Gandhi, along with the stretcher-bearing corps that he had established earlier during the war, was involved in a number of actions that took place in and around Ladysmith during the Relief.
Ladysmith has an historical past as it was an important transition point for fortune-hunters en-route to the Transvaal gold fields and diamond discoveries at Kimberley and become well known round the world as the site of the 118-day siege.