The Department of Energy has announced the creation of two new CSP (concentrating solar thermal power) plants in the Northern Cape. One will be the first of its kind in Africa. Kathu Solar Park and Redstone Solar Thermal Power are the preferred bidders and each company will build a 100MW capacity plants capable of storing solar power generated during daylight hours. The new plants will add to the five already commissioned in this hot, dry province. The Kathu Consortium’s plant will incorporate parabolic trough technology and will be equipped with a molten-salt storage system that will allow 4.5 hours of thermal energy storage. The Redstone Solar Thermal Power project, the first of its kind in Africa, will use molten salt energy storage technology in a tower configuration. It is claimed that this 100MW project with 12 hours of full-load energy storage will be able to reliably deliver a stable electricity supply to more than 200 000 South African homes during peak demand periods, even well after the sun has set. This project is fuelled entirely by the sun. No back up fuel is required. The project also features dry cooling of the power generation cycle as an important element to minimize water use. The Redstone plant will be built in Postmasburg, adjacent to the 75MW Lesedi and 96MW Jasper photovoltaic (PV) solar power projects.

NOTE: ACWA Power is already building the 50 MW Bokpoort CSP project; Abengoa, of Spain, the 50 MW Khi Solar One power- tower, the 100 MW KaXu Solar One project and the Xina project; Karoshoek Solar One is being developed and Eskom is pursuing a CSP project near Upington.


Prince Albert is listed as a “top spot” by Safarinow, a top booking website. The village holds spot No 11 and is hailed as an “atmospheric, arty hamlet at the foot of the Swartberg Mountains” and one of the top spots of the arid zone which includes the Karoo and Bushveld. “People generally love Prince Albert,” says new tourism promotion officer Yolanda Munro. “Our busy festive season proved that. Nevertheless, it is always interesting to your village through the eyes of its visitors. Most are fascinated by the water furrows which bring fresh, clean spring water straight from the mountains right into the heart of the village.”


The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) has appealed to South African road users to help identify roadkill hotspots. A photograph of roadkill is all that is required. Each picture needs to be sent to EWT, detailing where and when it was taken. This will help EWT researchers identify the species. “To make things even easier guidelines are provided on Road Watch, a download an app that can be installed on smart phones,” says Wendy Collinson, the field officer heading the project. “The information will let us to identify where and when the greatest numbers of impacts occur. It will also help us identify migration corridors for different species, and help is work out ways to reduce vehicle-caused deaths.


The 2015 Prince Albert Winter School is scheduled to be held from August 7 to 16, 2015. The programme will include walks, talks, workshops, discussion groups and seminars on the Karoo, the town and the biodiversity of its surrounds. Many experts have been invited to attend.


Looking for something beautiful, stunning and completely different in the pottery line? You’ll find it at the Skilpad Ateljee in Richmond in the Great Karoo. This is the home of Rosi-D Ceramics a company started by Michael John Drysdale in memory of his beloved sister, Rosie, who died of cancer three years ago. “It’s taken time, but I’m back with a new touch of creativity,” says Michael, creative photographer, artist, former riding instructor and horse medic at the SADF Equestrian Centre. Michael, who terms himself “a bit of a maverick”, followed a long and winding road to the Karoo. “I felt the best I could do for Rosie was to create beautiful things. I called the studio Skilpad because art pieces come off the design table at the pace of a tortoise. Nevertheless, they are so worthwhile once they’re done.”


“I have always been a creative. My grandmother encouraged me to use my hands, to make things. I began tinkering with bits of wood, then drew and painted on everything until I progressed to more structured art at school. Then, led by a desire to capture and preserve images, to play with colour, light and shadow I started dabbling in photography. I studied it in depth, then took it back to basics, started using it as an art form and began painting with light. I went on to arts, crafts, and sculpture. I firmly believe nothing is impossible, so I trained an equestrian display team and performed with it. I also taught voltige (gymnastics on horseback) at the SADF training centre. After that I went to Europe, ended in Iceland and started a career as a fashion designer. Photography remains a passion. I always choose my subject, and sometimes shoot it a thousand times before I get the shot I want. The ‘karretjies’ of the Karoo intrigue me. I have about a 160 good pictures of them, but don’t yet have just the one I want. The one that will capture the emotion and movement for me.”


Michael has a passion for social work and has been involved in a wide variety of health and poverty alleviation programmes across the country. In 2005 he went to work for Sparrow Schools, where he developed skills training programmes and ended up teaching. He moved to Richmond ostensibly to start a skills development project there for the vast poverty stricken, unemployed community. Lack of funding, however, dashed that dream. Undaunted he carried on. “I simply started a literacy programme with the children of the local soup kitchen. I read stories to them every lunch time, through rain, hail, extreme heat and even snow. I also started a programme going for high school children in the hopes of improving the matric pass rate.” All this is done without any donor funding.


In 1868 Highbury House School, was established at St. Leonards-On-Sea, on the East Sussex, coast in England, for sons of “gentlemen residing in South Africa” and other outlying places. The school and area, it was said, was particularly suited to these boys because of the mildness of St Leonard’s climate. An article in S A Magazine of July 11, 1891, stated that premises, including lofty classrooms, had been specially built for their purpose and that the excellent premises included “a dining hall, gymnasium, hot and cold baths, as well as lavatories”. There was also a carpenter’s shop and chemical laboratory. The entire complex was warmed throughout with a hot water apparatus and it was thoroughly ventilated. The school taught Preparatory, Middle and Upper school classes to boys whose ages ranged from six to 18 years old. The article also stated that if desired the school would clothe and care for pupils during vacations. The school’s magazine The Thistle, which appeared six times a year, published details of literary matters, concerts, lectures, school events, public examination results and sports successes. The sports included athletics, cricket, football and swimming races. Mrs Duff, the Lady Principal, personally handled all applications from South Africa, Canada, British Guiana, Calcutta, Ceylon and the Straits Settlements. Both parents and boys were given to understand that “no tumpetry or gimcrackery would be tolerated.”


Charles Davidson Bell, the Colony’s Surveyor-General, is said to have designed South Africa’s first medal. This silver medal for gallantry, was struck in 1851, and presented to men who fought in the Eighth Frontier War by Governor Sir Harry Smith. Born in Crail, Fife, in Scotland in 1813, Charles came to the Cape in 1830. His uncle, Government Secretary, Sir John Bell, helped him obtain a job in the civil service where he rapidly moved through the ranks. When his employers became aware of his artistic abilities, they arranged for him to accompany Dr Andrew Smith on a journey into the interior in 1834. Charles was away for two years and with Smith travelled as far north as the Limpopo River. Charles had a whimsical sense of humour. His sketches and paintings of Cape Town’s mixed population and of the tribesmen he encountered on his travels are an invaluable record of 19th-century South African life. On his return to the Cape he was appointed acting clerk of the Legislative Council in 1838, Assistant Surveyor-General in 1843, and Surveyor-General in 1848.


Charles Bell’s contribution to heraldics in South Africa was invaluable. He copied old Dutch coats of arms from memorials, seals, stained glass windows, and other artefacts. In 1861 he advertised his intention of publishing them in book form. Sadly this dream was not realised. In time he gave the manuscript, drawings, and his notes to his brother-in-law Daniel Krynauw who added his own heraldry collection to it. When he died both collections were presented to the Cape Town museum and, in time, eventually published in Cornelis Pama’s heraldry books. Charles designed the now sought-after triangular Cape of Good Hope stamp when he was appointed to the Postal Enquiry Board in 1852. These rectangular stamps remained in use until 1902. He designed an emblem for the South African College, now the University of Cape Town, and this is now considered to be South Africa’s oldest academic arms. Bell also designed the “three anchors” badge for the South African Mutual Life Assurance Society (The Old Mutual), now said to be the country’s oldest corporate logo. He was a highly acclaimed illustrator and artist and a friend of fellow Scot, Andrew Geddes Bain.


Bell’s marriage ended in a scandal in 1850. He accused Martha Antoinette Ebden, whom he had married on June 3, 1841, of “living in notorious adultery” and cited Dr. Lestock Wilson Stewart as co-respondent. The divorce was granted on July l, and Charles was granted custody of their three children. Charles denied paternity of a daughter born in October that year and went as far as to objected to her baptism at St Paul’s, Rondebosch. On the day of the baptsm he wrote to Rev Fry, stating he would not allow his name to be used as father of a child born out of wedlock. Fry was not sure how to handle the situation, so he wrote to Robert Gray, Bishop of Cape Town asking for guidance. Martha heard of the letters and wrote to Rev Fry stating that she was “surprised” by Charles’s “unfeeling and scandalous letter” as “no other person is or can be the father of the child”. A second letter sped off to the Bishop and in the end, Charles was listed as the divorced husband of the child’s mother. Charles married Helena Krynau nine years later. They had five children. Martha moved to Australia where sadly her daughter died at the age of 16. Charles’s eldest son John followed in his father’s footsteps and travelled with Henry Chapman through the dryland and as far north as Lake Ngami. They returned via Kuruman and Hopetown.


Way back in 1896 officialdom wondered how many adult burgers lived in the hinterland. The question got a rather unusual answer,An approximate estimate of the strength of the burgher yeomanry revealed that 29,000 guns were recently distributed. There are still 5 000 applications for guns that have not yet been met, so this would place the extent of the adult burgher population at 34,000,” stated S A Magazine of September 5.


Professor Octavius Charles Cogan, of Grahamstown, claimed to be the world’s champion balancer. He left South Africa in May 1891, on a world tour to prove his point and certainly found no one to argue with him. According to SA Magazine of May 2 that year, the professor gave the last of a series of three performances on the slack wire at the Royal Victoria Hall, at Waterloo Bridge Road. The crowds gasped at his antics and loudly applauded the skilful manner in which he went through these various feats. “The principal one, a decided novelty, was a tug-of-war between the performer and a member of the public on the ground. As soon as Cogan balanced himself on his airy pedestal, the person below was asked to do his utmost, using a rope, to pull him off the wire. It appears no one ever succeeded. Cogan travelled widely in Europe then through the provinces of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland before leaving for the United States America. The people of Ireland were so captivated by his performances that they invited him to return.


In 896 the widely known Grahamstown nurserymen and landscape gardeners, W and G Gowie, carried off a top prize. In a competition, open to every gardener in South Africa, the Free State Government called for designs for the Raadzaal grounds and gardens in Bloemfontein and while many enteries were received the Gowie brothers won, states the S A Magazine of September 19, 1896. This firm, owned by brothers William and Charles Gowie, supplied plants, trees and seeds across the country and were proud to receive orders from as far afield as Rhodesia. They were the sons of Scottish tailor, Alexander Gowie, who brought his wife, Helen and their eight children to South Africa in 1859, under the sponsorship of his brother John, who lived in Grahamstown. At the time William was nine and Charles three. In 1891 they acquired Oatlands, an estate initially acquired by Lord Charles Somerset in 1820. They substantially altered the house, which Lord Charles had built, and established a prosperous nursery in the grounds. On August 8, 1892, they wrote a three-page letter, including illustrations, to Sir William Thiselton-Dyer at Royal Botanic Gardens, at Kew, in London, telling him of a 30ft (9m) tall Aloe bainesii which grew in their grounds. They were quite happy, they said, for Dyer to have this plant for the gardens at Kew, however, he would have to arrange its collection and transportation. Oatlands Estate remained in the Gowie family until 1965.


Endangered Wildlife Trust information officer, Debbie Thiart, reminds people that there is still time to benefit from a tax relief donation to EWT before the fiscal year ends on February 28. EWT is registered as a Public Benefit Organisation (PBO) – its reference is 930 001 777. “Bona fide donations made by companies of up to a limit of 10% of their taxable income entitles them to a tax deduction she said.


Locusts are a curse of the dryland. They also cause severe problems for travellers, even those journeying by rail, as Prime Minister, Sir Gordon Sprigg found on a train trip through the Eastern Cape Karoo. His coach was bombarded by a swarm of locusts extending about a quarter of a mile. An hour later, at a meeting a farmer stood up and asked the prime minister if he knew anything of locusts. The SA Magazine of September 12, 1896, said Sir Gordon just smiled quite knowingly.


On July 18, 1852, the Grahamstown Journal recorded its concern at the news that several young Cradock men were considering emigrating to Australia. The newspaper said the situation was caused by the protracted war and “seemingly uncertainty of border affairs. We counsel the young men to wait and not to rush off. Land in Australia is expensive. It can cost 20 shillings an acre.”

All change is not growth; as all movement is not forward – Ellen Glasgow