Economic Growth of Graaff-Reinet

Nestled in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, Graaff Reinet is the country’s fourth oldest magisterial town. It is home to over 220 heritage sites, including various houses, buildings and farms, which reveal the town’s journey through time. The town is situated within the Great Karoo and is thus surrounded by natural beauty, rich in fauna and flora.

The wool-producing industry was further stimulated by the wool buyers, Mosenthal brothers of Port Elizabeth, who established their agents in Graaff-Reinet and other Karoo towns, and who also imported improved breeding stock – merino sheep in 1852 and angora goats in 1857. In the 1850s Graaff-Reinet exceeded all other districts in the quantity of wool produced and the price obtained for the clip. Added to this there was a flourishing trade in hides and skins, and ivory from the north. New immigrants with capital to invest in sheep farms were attracted to the district, and land prices rose dramatically.

There was remarkable economic growth and the 1850s are regarded as the most prosperous decade of Graaff-Reinet’s Golden Age which lasted until the 1890s. Many private schools were established, and steps were taken to start a college along the lines of the South African College in Cape Town, and as a result the Graaff-Reinet College was opened in 1861.

With the confidence given by a boom period, and the steep rise in land prices, together with the arrival of many new immigrants, eight new villages and hamlets were carved out of the Graaff-Reinet district or established on its boundaries in the fifties. In 1856 Aberdeen was founded as a church town. Richmond (established 1844) and Middelburg (established 1850) were made separate divisions in 1858, though most of their territory had previously belonged to Colesberg. Murraysburg became a new district the following year, chiefly carved out of the Graaff-Reinet district. Jansenville, in 1854, took most of its territory from Uitenhage, and Pearston, in 1859, took from Somerset East as well as from Graaff-Reinet. Visitors to Graaff-Reinet are welcome to stay over in any of the lovely Bed & Breakfast venues in the town.

This blog was written by Rietjiesbos Bed & Breakfast. Rietjiesbos B&B is a beautifully restored Karoo house set in a country garden of Graaff Reinet. Rietjiesbos Bed & Breakfast will surprise and delight you. Valerie's attention to detail as well as her Graaff-Reinet breakfast with eggs from a local farmer, local home-made jams and coffee from the local roastery will make you come back time and again to this place to stay in Graaff-Reinet.

​The rooms lead onto the garden where you can relax or have a bbq in the shade of two majestic trees. Rietjiesbos B&B is a 15 minute walk from the nearest restaurants. The art galleries, museums, beautiful churches and  national monuments in Graaff Reinet are also within walking distance. Your vehicles and trailers will be safe behind off-street parking. Rietjiesbos Bed & Breakfast is one of the best guesthouses in Graaff Reinet and receive excellent reviews.

Book your next accommodation in Graaff Reinet directly at or contact Valerie via email at


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*Due to COVID 19 we regrettably will not be serving breakfast.