Blood River – Ncome Museum

The new Blood River-Ncome Museum was designed by Hannes Meiring in 1996 and depicts the battle of  Blood  River in its wider  context of migrations, even giving the  story of the American West.

Coert Steynberg designed the granite wagon that was erected during  1939,  but was not unveiled until 1947 due to the Second World War.  It was originally placed over the stone pile in the middle of the laager site and had a window so that one could see the pile.  In 1971 the wagon was moved to its present site when the laager of bronze wagons was erected.

A pyramid beacon was erected during the 1938 Voortrekker festival and is known as the “Geloftehernuwingsbaken”.    A  cement  slab in which  the  tracks  of the  Johanna  van der Merwe, the centenary wagon used in the ceremonial trek, are imprinted can be seen East of the  beacon.    To  the  North  are  the  tracks  of  the  F.A.K.  Natalia  used  in  the  150-year celebrations during 1988.

The stone pile in the middle of the lager is the first memorial to the battle.and was erected in 1866 when  40-50 wagons  gathered  in commemoration  of the  battle.   A  number  of the Voortrekkers and even an old Zulu warrior took part in the celebrations.  On either side of the laager is a plaque with the vow that was made before the battle.

A laager of identical replicas of the “Johanna van der Merwe” (the centenary  celebration wagon) was erected  in 1971 on the exact place where the  battle laager  stood  and was unveiled on the 16th of December of the same year. The wagons were made of cast iron and plated with bronze; those without tents depict the ammunition wagons.   During the battle Wattle sticks  were used as gates between the wagons of the laager.

Some ships cannon were brought from the Cape by Andries Pretorius and were mounted on wagon wheels. These were placed facing east from the laager.  When filled with shrapnel and stones they could fire up to a distance of 3000m.  According to historians there were only 2 guns but some believe that there were 3.  The northern opening in the laager served to let the cavalry out and the home made gun called “Grietjie” was placed there, it had an effective distance of 300m and was mounted on plough wheels.  A replica of “Grietjie” has been made but its whereabouts are unknown.   According to tradition there was a big gun  at the spot where “Grietjie” was used, but there is no knowledge of what it looked like.