Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Sir Percy FitzPatrick Lookout in Sunland

Sir Percy FitzPatrick, (24 July 1862 – 24 January 1931) is probably best known for writing the book Jock of the Bushveld, but also played a big role in the early development of the Sundays River Valley.  In his younger years he was involved in gold and diamond prospecting in Mpumalanga where Jock of the Bushveld also plays off.   In 1895 FitzPatrick became the secretary of the Reform Committee in Johannesburg which conspired to overthrow Paul Kruger's South African Republic.
 At the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War (1899–1902) FitzPatrick helped to establish the Imperial Light Horse Regiment but was prevented from active service by ill health.  He was knighted in 1902 as a Knight Commander of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George.  He served as one of eight Transvaal representatives in the national convention of 1908–9, where four British colonies were consolidated into the Union of South Africa and went on to serve as a member of the parliament of the Union of South Africa.

After coming to the Sundays River Valley he established the Sundays River Settlement Company which encouraged people to settle in this area.  He also played a very big role in the establishment of the citrus industry in the valley and the amazing irrigation system of this area was his brain child.  His idea was to channel water from the Orange River, six hundred kilometres away from Sunland, into this arid area thus enabling agriculture to flourish here, as it does today, providing employment for the many local people.
FitzPatrick bought a piece of land next to the river from where his guests could enjoy the stunning view of the surrounding valley.  He even had a lookout platform built on the land where visitors can still go to marvel at the view.  After his death he was buried at The Lookout where he's wife is buried alongside him.  The Lookout and the surrounding land was donated as a public space my his daughter and son-in-law in 1953 and the site was declared a National Monument. 

1 comment:

  1. I love the book but didn't realize FitzPatrick was so politically involved. Nice views.