Mbombela has a strange and long history. The people are proud of their past and the town has a few landmarks that you can visit while enjoying our Mbombela accommodation.
Many, many years ago, an old smithy came to the developing area of Mbombela, bringing his anvil, forge and pair of bellows to start up his little trade under a tree. No one knows who the old smithy was or what happened to him, but while building the Land Bank in Mbombela in the 1950’s, evidence of his existence in the form of horse shoes, nails and other remains of this ironworking operation were unearthed under this significant old sycamore fig tree. Sadly, whatever happened to those remains is unknown but an aerial photograph from the mid 1930’s clearly shows this tree. It is presumed that the smithy packed up his goods and moved on as the area was being built up around him and motor cars were slowly replacing horses as a mode of transport.
It is said that this sycamore fig tree took root here before Mbombela existed and that it watched as a town itself took root. It was growing here as the Old Eastern Railway Line from Pretoria to the then Lourenco Marques was being built in the 1890’s. Mbombela had started developing around the train station, and not a church, as was the case with most towns back then.
The sycamore fig tree was there when 120 stands were marked out around the station for development and saw telegraph lines go up for communication between Mbombela and Komatipoort.
It was there when the water was brought by train to the first Mbombela homes and rejoiced with the residences in 1898 when Mbombela was given permission to pump water from Gladdespruit. It survived the South African War in 1899 and stood tall as the area took to farming.
The Land Bank building built in the 1950’s was set a little further off the sidewalk than usual specifically to accommodate this tree.
The tree has watched as the town grew up around it, roads were built and people came and went. It offers shade to the cars that are parked under it and also offers a shady spot to street vendors and people bustling along the sidewalk.
Today this old sycamore fig tree still stands in Bester Street which is now the old city centre. Here the tree enjoys its own palisade enclosure and rightly so as it needs protection. The tree is of historical significance. Generally, this magnificent tree would normally be found near rivers as they require a lot of water, but it grows strong here, in town. As old as what the tree is, it still bears fruit throughout the year.
Visit this tree and many of the other historical sites in and around town when you book your Mbombela accommodation at Mbombela Lodge.