The old church

Bowesdorp is a Ghost town on the national road from Cape Town to Springbok, in the magisterial district and division of Namaqualand, aprox 504 kilometres north-west of Cape Town and 591 kilometres south of Springbok.

In 1850 the Dutch Reformed parish of Namaqualand was separated from the mother parish of Clanwilliam, a place for a church was required. A site was chosen on the farm Wilgenhoutskloof and the church, the first in Namaqualand, was completed in 1864.

Plots were surveyed and sold and the village that sprang up round the church was at first named Bowesville after Henry Bowe, a Namaqualand doctor. The village did not develop much until 1897, when Moses Schuur opened a shop and built a hotel next to it. Then came the post office, the police station and the prison, and it seemed as if Bowesdorp was on the road to prosperity. However, the growing importance of Springbok, which had been established in 1863, endangered the future of Bowesdorp. The parsons preferred taking up residence at Springbok rather than at Bowesdorp, and when Dr. W. P. Steenkamp was called to Namaqualand in 1919, he had a church built at Springbok. This was a heavy blow to Bowesdorp. In 1922 he recommended that the urgently needed repairs to the church at Bowesdorp be discontinued because of the high cost. If the community wanted a new church, it should build one at a more suitable place where more water and space for future development would be available than in the narrow kloof between high mountains. Consequently a new church was completed in 1924 on the road to Garies. The post office, police station and shops were moved there too and so the village of Kamieskroon arose. That was Bowesdorp’s deathblow. Plots which had originally cost 6140 were sold for £8, and the only buyer of property was Adriaan Visser who came to Bowesdorp as a young constable before World War I. The former village became his farm. A signpost standing beside the road still indicates the site of the ghost town, but all that remain of it are the ruins of the church, the hotel, the police station, and the prison near the present farmhouse.