Taking its name from the well-known city in Holland, this small town in the Balel Mountains still exudes an o/de worlde charm arid in spite of its size, it is a historical gem. It boasts 10 national monuments and 10 historic sites. The Voortrekkers established this one-time Republic in 1847 on the banks of the “Buffels Rivier” and it was one of five original Voortrekker settlements prior to 1850. Utrecht not only played a prominent role in the Anglo Zulu War of 1878, but the disputed territory of Utrecht was an important factor leading to war.
For a short time the town served as the headquarters of the British Army under the command of Lord Chelmsford. During this time Colonel Evelyn Wood and his famous flying column were also based here. Still standing in Church Street is the quaint Uys House in which Prince Louis Napoleon, the Prince Imperial, visited Sannie, the beautiful daughter of Dirk Uys.
Captain Leo Pokrowsky
One of the most colourful foreigners who fought with the Boer forces during the Anglo-Boer War was the Pole, Captain Leo Pokrowsky an officer in the Russian army. He was killed in a skirmish on Christmas Day 1900, when he and his men attacked the British garrison in Utrecht.
Hlobane 20km east of Vryheid was the scene of a desperate struggle against the Zulu where Boer and Briton fought together in the Anglo-Zulu war. It was on this occasion in 1879 that Zululand was attacked. A column under command of Sir Evelyn Wood left Utrecht to move in. They were the troops that had taken the brunt of the war at Rourke’s Drift and included a column under the command of Gen. Sir Redvers Buller. Commandant Piet Uys commanded the Boer forces which was a commando from Utrecht.
Piet Uys was the brother of Dirkie Uys that died with his father at eThaleni in 1838. With the outbreak of the Anglo-Zulu war Piet Uys formed a commando of Boers to revenge the death of his family at the hands of the Zulu.
Piet Uys and his commando attacked the Zulu military kraal at Qulusi. On 28 March 1879 the British and Boer forces were cut off and surrounded by the Zulu on Hlobane Mountain. Uys was drawn into an ambush and killed along with about 100 men and officers. Col Buller won the Victoria Cross for his bravery when he saved some of the men from the ambush. A few years later, during the Anglo-Boere War, he became General Buller. The remains of Piet Uys were buried on his farm Weltevrede near Utrecht. During 1838 his friends and the men of the forces of Sir Evelyn Wood in Utrecht erected a monument in his honour. Another monument was later erected at Hlobane. Uys’ oldest son turned.down an offer of 14ha of land given to him and his mother by the British. He refused any payment for service during the war as well. Ironically the name Hlobane means “beautiful place” or “the mountain that is covered in decorations”. ..-
Dutch Reformed Church
This magnificent old building was erected during the ministry of Rev. H L Neethling, who was the first moderator of the Nederduitsche Hervormde or Gereformeerde Kerk of the Zuid Afrkaanse Republiek. It has been declared as a national Monument.
Old Parsonage Museum
This charming sandstone building on the corner of Kerk and Loop Streets, in Utrecht is now a national monument and houses the Utrecht Museum. The museum portrays the border dispute between the Transvaal and Zululand and also some period rooms.