Ladismith at a glance
The town is situated in the Little Karoo in the Western Cape at the foot of the Klein Swartberg range. Superbly set against the mountains, Ladismith is overlooked to the north by some of the finest peaks of the Swartberge. Directly above the town soars the 2130m high Toringberg (Towering mountain), so named because of its steep cliffs and sharp peak. To the west stands one of the most famous mountains in Southern Africa, the majestic Towerkop (Bewitched Peak), and is 2203m high, with its split peak and looming above the town. Local legend has it that an angry witch, flying overhead, struck the peak with her wand, causing it to split. The peak changes marvellously in appearance and looks bewitchingly different from whatever angle it is viewed.
Ladismith started off as a permanent place for worship. In 1851 a portion of the farm Ylands Vallei was bought and in 1852 this was laid out in 136 erven and named Ladismith in honour of Lady Juana Smith, wife of Governor Sir Harry Smith. The spelling was Ladismith to differentiate it from Ladysmith in Natal. The town received local government in 1862 and became a municipality in 1903.
The ostrich feather craze converted Ladismith into a boom town, with 50 000 birds breeding on the Lucerne fields around the town and the farmers paying fortunes for breeding pairs, while their wives enjoyed the profits by going on mad spending sprees.
The feather crash in 1914 brought the district to bankruptcy and Ladismith farmers remained very wary of the big birds for a long time. This fear eventually subsided just in time for a new downfall. The new collapse did not have a significant influence on the district as other industries were well established by then: vineyards, deciduous fruit and stock farming.
Today Ladismith is known for its excellent fruit and cheese. It has an ideal climate for the production of quality apricots, peaches, plums and grapes. There are two cheese factories and a winery as well as ostrich farms.
The town has a rich architectural heritage and is unique in the sense that it has its own building style - a simplified Georgian design. Other styles like Neo-Gothic, Victorian, Regency and Rural (Karoo) can be found. There are several hiking trails and five of the eight highest mountain peaks in the Western Cape are situated in the area.
Our town has a very moderate climate with cold winter nights (excellent for fruit trees) and mild days. The summers are hot with a lovely cool breeze rising in the evenings. These weather conditions provides good opportunities for keen gardeners.
65% of South Africa's export apricots originates from Ladismith. Our plums, peaches and grapes annually compliment the tables of Europe.
General farming are slowly moving towards the establishment of game and organic farming as interest from local and abroad is increasing.
Ladismith offers an opportunity to live an uncomplicated life in a clean environment!