It is not a long street by anyone’s measure, but it is long enough to live up to its hype as the main arterial hub of our town.
Not that important as a link, but a lynchpin indeed of our economic hub.
It is home to most of the town’s major businesses and the preferred location of most businesses.
Let’s face it, owning a piece of the 1.83 kilometre long street is considered prime real estate.
High rentals make certain that fly-by-nights have little chance of establishing a foothold. With its surveillance cameras and parking meter system, it ranks as well as any modern main street.
Talks several years back of changing the name faltered.
However, historically, one cannot imagine soldiers of the British Empire riding down any other street.
While it will be hard to argue that the name is unique to Ladysmith, for 120 days during the siege it was the life-blood of the town and for many businesses in town, having it as an address one cannot put a price on.
See below the street’s historical significance
Ladysmith’s historical monuments are on the main square by the Town Hall in Murchison Street.
The Town Hall, on the corner of Murchison and Queen Street, is a classic Victorian municipal building which was completed in 1893.
During the siege, it was converted into a hospital until the clock tower was hit by a six-inch shell. The Town Hall was repaired in 1901.
There is a small museum, with a gallery of photographs illustrating Ladysmith’s history up to the present day. The Siege Museum is next to the Town Hall. This is a fascinating museum, with one of the country’s largest collections of South African military memorabilia, including reconstructions of scenes from the Siege of Ladysmith and the Boer War.
There are displays of weapons, uniforms and household goods that were used during the siege, with explanations in English, Afrikaans and Zulu.
There are four field guns in Murchison Street just outside the museum: Castor and Pollux are the two guns sent from Cape Town at the outbreak of the Boer War for the defence of the town; Long Tom is a replica of the Creussot Fortress Guns which were used by the Transvaal Republic to bombard Ladysmith from the surrounding hills.
The Boers destroyed the original gun at Haenertsburg when Kitchener’s Fighting Scouts threatened to capture it.
The last gun is a German Feldkanonne which was captured in German Southwest Africa and sent back as a war trophy.
Walking south down Murchison Street will take you past two historical hotels which are still in use.
The Royal Hotel was built before the siege during the gold and diamond rushes of the interior.
During the siege, it was used by the press corps as a base.
The Crown Hotel is the site of Ladysmith’s first hotel, built of wattle and daub.
The earliest battlefield tours, on horseback, could be booked here in 1904. Further down Murchison Street, on the corner of Princess Street, is the Old Toll House where wagon drivers paid a toll before entering town.
Further along Murchison Street is the Central Mosque, which was completed in 1922.
It has a beautiful fountain and courtyard surrounded by Palm Trees.