The McGregor Museum
The modest Museum in McGregor shares a characteristic with the rhenosterveld which surrounds this charming village on the edge of the Little Karoo. At first glance, it appears deceptively low key, yet there is a wealth of interest here for those with time to look and delve a little deeper.
Important historical material and artefacts crowd its shelves and cabinets, on the left hand side of the Tourism Office in the National Monument building in Voortrekker Street.
One is an authentic King James Bible (bearing Rob Roy's signature) which can be seen by appointment.
Another is the engraved silver trowel used to lay the foundation stone of the Dutch Reformed church in 1904. It was found in a secret compartment in a desk bequeathed to Mick Corbett, former Chief Justice of SA, who is a great grandson of the Rev. Andrew McGregor, the church's Scots born pastor after whom the village was officially renamed in 1906.
A collection of important Andrew McGregor family memorabilia is rapidly expanding, thanks , to the interest and generosity of the pastor's descendants.
Also expanding is an extremely valuable and intrinsic part of the reason for the founding of the Museum, the recording and transcription of oral histories from long time McGregor inhabitants. Some remember working in the whipstock industry for which the village became respected worldwide, and many have illuminating stories about what life was like on the farms and vineyards in the early 1900s. These are kept in an open file on a table, for anyone to read at leisure.
The Museum operates under the authority of the Heritage Society of McGregor (registered no. HWC/RCB/89/05) and is administered informally by an enthusiastic voluntary group, initially formed under the leadership of Helaine Shand, who herself has 19th century family links with the village. The Museum would welcome the donation, loan or copies of any documents, letters, title deeds, artefacts etc. which relate to life in the area from the latter part of the 1700s onwards. The Museum has transcriptions of arguments over water rights fought in the courts by pioneering farmers at that time. Although a number of houses were built in the first part of the 1800s, the village was officially proclaimed only in 1862.
It would be much appreciated if anyone who might have items of interest would drop a line to the Heritage Society, Box 197, McGregor 6708, or telephone the honorary secretary, Mrs. Marilyn Poole, on 023 625 1306
[Thanks are given to Mrs. Marilyn Poole for help with this page]
Detail from the church opening ceremony, above.
Voortrekker Street, McGregor in the 1930's.
Detail from the plan made for the division of McGregor, originally drawn in 1821, added to in 1838 and finally copied with addition of last owner in 1905. There are 15 separate landowners listed with their village blocks designated, from 1862 (when Lady Grey was officially designated a town) to 1905. The full plan may be viewed in the museum.