Location: South Africa » Kwazulu Natal » Battlefields » Anglo Boer War » Colenso


Colenso - KwaZulu Natal South Africa

The town of Colenso in KwaZulu Natal South Africa is situated on the banks of the Tugela River and surrounded by the Drakensberg foothills, Colenso was known as Commando Drift before being renamed in honour of the first Bishop of Natal. John William Colenso was a missionary who translated the New Testament into Zulu.

Colenso Museums

R.E Stevenson Museum(Old Toll House):
Erected in 1879 as the house of the Bulwer Bridge. The military historian Dr R.E. Stevenson made a study of the Battles fought in and around Colenso during the Anglo-Boer War. Obtain the key from the police station next door.

Colenso Monuments & Memorials

  • Ambleside Military Cemetery:
    Many of the men who fell in the Battle of Colenso, during the Anglo- Boer War, particularly the Irish regiments, are buried here.Take the Weenen/ Colenso off ramp from the R103 (approaching from Estcourt) and turn left to Winterton. Follow the signs to the cemetery. Open daily.
  • Armoured Train Cemetery: It was near this site that Winston Churchill was captured by Boer forces, who derailed the armoured observation train which he was travelling. A plaque just off the road records the event and the cemetery set among trees. Off the R103 near Frere. Signposted
  • Chieveley Military Cemetery:
    Here Lt. Freddy Roberts, the son of Lord Roberts, lies buried. He was posthumously awarded the VC. Follow the dirt road past the railway station to the cemetery set among trees. Off the R103 from Estcourt to Colenso. Open daily
  • Clouston Garden of Remembrance:
    Many of the Memorials and graves from the Battle of Colenso have been moved to the Clouston Garden of Rembrance. This site was General Bullers headquarters during the Battle of Colenso. There were a number of brigade hospitals here during the battle to which the wounded were brought. The graves of many of the men killed on the 15 December and Thukela Heights battles are found in this garden.

This historic town on the banks of the Tugela River, is surrounded by the foothills of the Drakensberg mountains. It was originally known as Commando Drift, but was renamed in honour of John William Colenso, who was elected the first Bishop of Natal in 1855. First and foremost a missionary who learnt the Zulu language and translated the New Testament into the Zulu language, he was so popular with the people of the region that they honoured him with the title Sobantu (father of the people). Colenso is close to the Armoured Train Cemetery where the young war correspondent Winston Churchill, was captured by the Boers. There are several military memorials in the vicinity, erected by regiments which fought in the battles in and around the town during the Anglo Boer War. Freddy, son of Lord Roberts, was mortally wounded here, and is buried at the Chieveley Military Cemetery.


How to get there - Ladysmith 24 km

Average Rainfall – 700 mm per annum

Average Temperatures – Summer 19°c – 30°c; Winter -5°c – 18°c

Banks – Absa

Dams – Jana

Mountains – Drakensberg

Rivers – Tugela




Ambleside Military Cemetery

Where many soldiers from the Battle of Colenso are buried, particularly those of the Irish Regiments

Clieveley Military Cemetery

In this cemetery, set among trees, Freddy, the son of Lord Roberts, lies buried.

Clouston Garden of Remembrance

Memorials and graves have been moved to this site, which was General Buller’s headquarters during the Battle of Colenso. There were a number of brigade hospitals here during the battle, and it is recognized as the place where the first moving pictures of a battle were taken. There is a monument to Lt Roberts VC.

Re Stevenson Museum (Old Toll House)

Erected in 1879 as the house of the tollkeeper of the Bulwer Bridge. The military historian Dr RE Stevenson made a specialized study of the battles fought in and around Colenso during the Anglo Boer War. Visitors can obtain the key to the museum from the Police Station next door.

Steam Tractor and Engines

The steam engines are from the old Eskom Power Station and the tractor is in running order.

The Battlefields of Colenso and Tugela Heights

Two of the most significant battles fought on South African soil, both of which were closely linked to the attempts by General Buller to relieve the beleaguered town of Ladysmith. The sites are situated only a few kilometers from Colenso.

Winston Churchill Capture Sites

Twenty Five years old Winston Churchill, cavalryman and newspaper correspondent for the London Morning Post arrived in Estcourt in 1899 as the British troops were preparing to march on Ladysmith to relieve the beleaguered town. As a graduate of the Military College, Sandhurst, and having seen action in Cuba, India and the Sudan, he was aware of the Boers’ prowess in the field, commenting that ‘…the individual Boer, mounted, in a suitable country, is worth four or five regular soldiers’. Churchill’s exploits during the Anglo Boer War were to make him a national hero and lay the foundation for the future British Prime Minister’s reputation for dogged determination. He didn’t have to wait long for action. On 15 November 1899 he joined an armoured tran reconnaissance towards Colenso, where enemy patrols had been spotted. The train was ambushed by the Boers and derailed, Churchill captured and taken prisoner of war. He did not stay captive very long, however, for within two months he had made a daring escape from prison in Pretoria and was back in Natal, ready to embark on another attempt to relieve Ladysmith. At the time of his capture the Boer leader General Joubert, dismissed Churchill as ‘Die Klein Koerant Skrywertjie’ (the small newspaperman).


Tugela River

Flowing wide and deep past Colenso, the Tugela River offers many scenic spots for water sport and fishing. Relaxation sites feature spectacular waterfalls.


Accommodation in and around Anglo Boer War

The Royal Hotel    accommodation in Anglo Boer War
Elegant, tastefully-decorated, air-conditioned rooms that contain an extensive array of facilities. Known far and wide for our service and attention to detail, we offer excellent conferences and banqueting facilities. Dining is also a pleasure, with ... More

Farquhar Lodge    accommodation in Anglo Boer War
Welcome to Farquhar Lodge Bed & BreakfastSet in a beautiful "jungle like" garden. Situated in Central Ladysmith, close to all the main amenities of this historic townOur fifteen comfortable en-suite rooms are available at affo... More

Buller's Rest Lodge    accommodation in Anglo Boer War
This charming country-style, thatch home offers bed and breakfast and dinner on request in a friendly, family atmosphere with beautiful berg views from a magnificent sun deck overlooking Ladysmith. Tasty cooking and comfortable single and double en-s... More

Durnford's Lodge    accommodation in Anglo Boer War
Durnford's Lodge is a "Bed & Breakfast" Guest House Style, situated at 28 Francis Road, Ladysmith - close to the C.B.D, yet away from the drone of everyday shopping and traffic.Paddy Ann and Charles are your hosts and are dedicated ... More

Egerton Manor    accommodation in Anglo Boer War
Comfortable, well appointed accommodation offering you a restful night. A real home from home allows for a friendship to develop in a few hours. Centrally Situated: We are situated in the middle of Ladysmith, easily accessible. Delicious Cooking: P... More

Spionkop Lodge    accommodation in Anglo Boer War
Experience an unmatched gateway at SpionKop Lodge which is set against the backdrop of the majestic Drakensburg mountains, on the Kwazulu-Natal battlefields route. Situated on an expansive 700 hectare game farm, SpionKop Lodge is the perfect base f... More

Hunter's Lodge    accommodation in Anglo Boer War
Hunters Lodge is centrally situated in the busy town of Ladysmith. We pride ourselves on providing a restful oasis for the weary traveller and offer a home from home atmosphere - arrive as strangers and leave as friends. We also ensure that our break... More

Trenchgula Game Farm & Guest Lodge    accommodation in Anglo Boer War
In a peaceful game farm setting, Trenchgula Game Farm & Guest Lodge a luxury 4 star quality guest lodge lies nestled below the war graves of the Anglo-Boer War on top of the Trenchgula Hill. A luxury, quality guest lodge with 8 rooms under thatch... More

Three Trees at Spioenkop    accommodation in Anglo Boer War
The Lodge has been built on a hillside amongst the striking Aloe Spectabilis and the Paperbark Acacia with views that inspired a guest to write ‘Afr... More

Budleigh House    accommodation in Anglo Boer War
Set in a large park like garden with shaded seating for relaxation after a long day. Luxury accommodation is offered with full scrumptious English breakfasts. Braai facilities and swimming pool available. We are within walking distance of shops an... More

Royal Country Lodge    accommodation in Anglo Boer War
... More

The Springbok Lodge    accommodation in Anglo Boer War
  The Springbok Lodge epitomises the perfect safari experience with beautifully appointed tented suites, service excellence, superb cuisine and prolific wildlife - ensuring an unforgettable experience. Nestled in the heart of the KwaZu... More

Peaches & Cream B&B    accommodation in Anglo Boer War
Peaches and Cream if a beautiful, secluded and gracious colonial home nestled in a lush indigenous garden. Peaches and Cream offer guests beautifully decorated en suite bedrooms. Each luxurious bedroom is equipped with TV, DSTV, air-conditioning, ele... More

Bokmakierie Country Lodge    accommodation in Anglo Boer War
The Bokmakierie Country Lodge is set in tranquil surroundings at the edge of Ladysmith, overlooking the Country Club golf course, acres of barren land, and a variety of wildlife. The Country Lodge's garden, home and setting is simply stunning. Fr... More

Directory of accommodation in Anglo Boer War