Waaihoek became Lady Grey...
Before 1856 farmers in this area attended the Church in Aliwal North. Primitive transport, bad roads, rivers and other obstacles made it an ordeal to go to Church. After approval by the Church Board of Aliwal North, it was decided to purchase the farm Waaihoek from the Botha brothers for the establishment of a new congregation. The Governor, Sir George Grey, also gave permission to name the place after his wife, “Lady Grey”. The Land surveyor, Mr. Orpen measured the farm as well as the first 150 erven.
The first Church, completed in 1860, was built on a hillock in the middle of Lady Grey. It is interesting to note that all houses were built to face the Church. The Reverend from Aliwal North conducted a service in Lady Grey once a month. In 1863 Rev. David Ross from Scotland accepted a call from the congregation of Lady Grey. When he arrived, Lady Grey consisted of a Church, Parsonage, two shops and a few houses. Rev. Ross was a learned, multi-skilled man and he used his land surveyor’s chain to measure more erven in Lady Grey.
The first Hotel was on Erf 213 and it belonged to Mr. Lee. This building was demolished. In 1865 he offered the building and surrounding property to the newly established Commission of Managers of the School to use as a School and Teachers Residence in exchange for the free education of his own children. This was accepted. The first teacher was Mr. Rheeders.
The first old Magistrates Court was also a Post Office with the Gaol (Jail) on the opposite side of the same erf. It was built in 1889 and evacuated in 1923 when the current Magistrates and Post Office Building was completed. Lady Grey became a Municipality in 1893 with Mr. B.J. Brummer as the first Mayor.
Before the Anglo Boer War there were no poor White people in Lady Grey. During the war Black people were paid well in service of the British and after the war they had more than enough to keep them going without having to work. White people, destitute after the war, moved to Lady Grey and started to work as laborers. These people established themselves on the outskirts of town. Businesses did well during the war and many buildings were erected just after the war.
The Railway between Lady Grey and Aliwal North was completed in 1905. Lady Grey became an important trading centre. People crossed the mountains from Lesotho to purchase goods in Lady Grey. Large trading stores sold almost anything, including saddles, wallpaper, haberdashery, food and sweets. There were three hotels, the Poplar Hotel, Central Hotel (currently Ye Olde Praktijkt) Commercial Hotel (currently Mountain View Country Inn History).
The Church of England and Methodist Church was built in 1906 and the DR Church was demolished in 1911, re-built and completed in 1913.
The building that houses the Lady Grey Arts Academy was built in 1926 and named the David Ross School after Rev David Ross. The Lady Grey Dam, also known as the reservoir or “Groot Dam” was completed in 1925.
From the 1960’s the town experienced an economic decline and reached an all time low in the mid 1990’s when the David Ross School dropped to Primary School status. The change over of the School to an Arts Academy brought revival to Lady Grey. As the Academy grew people saw the potential of Lady Grey and started to invest in property and businesses. Old buildings were bought and restored and Lady Grey became the sought after destination of today.