Home Things To Do Hiking Trails Stanley's Light


Stanley's Light

   On 31 May 1963, Stanley de Wit installed a light on the cliffs of Elandsberg.  This is situated at the turning point of the Elandsberg hiking trail. It is a stiff climb of 6,1 km and 1 430m above sealevel.

   Stanley was a keen mountaineer and during several trips up the moutain he noticed a perennial stream cascading down a vertical rock.  This made him hit upon the idea of installing a  light which would burn permanently and could be seen from town.

   He carted 22m of plastic pipe, electrical cables, cement and sand  up the mountain to install the light.  Water was fed from the stream via a plastic pipe vertically onto a specially designed wheel which in turn was connected to a bicycle dynamo.  The dynamo was thus driven at high speed and was attached to a bicycle light with an electrical cable, fixed to a rock.  Bulbs had to be replaced regularly and the dynamo itself lasted between 1 - 2 years.  The bicycle light was later replaced by two 24V motorcar lights and the dynamo by an alternator.  A solar panel was installed to provide power, after a drought, for the alternator to start when there is water again. During September 2009 two Phillips llghts, donated by Light-for-Lighting were added to the car lamps.  It is most probably the smallest hydro-electrical unit in the world that runs day and night - if the water supply is constant.  The light is clearly visible from town as soon as night falls and even during the day during the winter months.

   For thirty years (1963 - 1993) Stanley climbed the trail 278 times (3 392,6km!) to repair the light when he noticed that it was'nt burning.  He tells the story of the troupe of baboons who started a boikot against him at one stage, perhaps because he and his light were too much in the limelight!  One morning he started out at 04:00 because it became too hot during the day.  He had to take a torch with him, but as soon as it became light enough, he hid the torch under two flat stones.  He had heard the baboons earlier on, but could not see them because of fog.  When he returned, the stones were moved and the torch was missing.  He reckoned that they must have  watched him from afar to obtain the nice shining object.  Although he had searched for it for a long time, he could never find his missing torch.  Tongue-in-the-cheek, he said that he climbed up to the light more often than necessary to take the baboons batteries for the torch.

  The light is not only a beacon for the Ladismith people, but is well-known far outside the borders of the district. Stanley was honoured by a shoe-factory at Wupperthal when they dedicated their 10 000th

pair of "velskoens" to him.  On the box appeared "Stanley se Velskoen" with a sketch of Elandsberg, the Light and Towerkop.


Copyright © 2016 Ladismith Tourism Bureau - Klein Karoo, South Africa. All Rights Reserved.
Joomla! is Free Software released under the GNU/GPL License.