Venture into the Past at Barberton Museum

The town of Barberton was established in 1884 during the gold rush when Fred and Henry Barber, along with their cousin Graham, discovered gold in this area. Not having any champagne on hand, David Wilson, the Gold Commissioner, named and christened Barberton with a bottle of gin. Barberton’s flourishing life was short lived, as gold prospectors flooded the little town, and just as quickly as they came, moved on to other locations, where bigger mines such as the Witwatersrand deposit was discovered. Only the bigger mines were kept running, and small towns like Barberton, were left in the gold rush wake. Mr. Otto Elkan began the Barberton Museum in 1898, by donating mineral specimens, quartz and other natural curios. This was then the beginning of the Barberton Museum. It has grown over the years and currently consists of a main museum, displaying general Barberton history, Mining, Geology and the history of the Swazi’s. Also included into the Barberton Museum, is the Stopforth House Museum, Fernlea Museum, the Block House, and Belhaven House Museum.

Built in 1904, and furnished in early Edwardian and late Victorian styles, Belhaven House depicts the way of life of wealthy and middle class families. It is a pre-fabricated house, and has pressed iron panels on the interior, and the exterior outer walls are made from corrugated iron. On the corner of Lee and Judge Roads, is the location for the Block House, built in 1901. The British constructed these forts during the Anglo- Boer war, as defense positions against the Boers. Fernlea House was built for Mrs Emily Fernandez, constructed from wood and iron, in the early 1890’s. It now exhibits its own restoration and Rimers Creek. James Stopforth, built Stopforth House in 1886. The Stopforth family lived here from 1886 until 1983, and rebuilt the house during this time. Today, the items, articles and furniture used by the Stopforth family between 1886 and 1914, can be viewed within the house.

The Barberton Museum also displays a number of black and white photographs, which gives the visitor an inside look at Barberton, its glory years and the years that followed. The Barberton Museum is a historical jewel, and the eyes to era long gone in the lovely Mpumalanga Province


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