Barrydale History

History of Barrydale

On an early map produced in 1843, the area where Barrydale sits today is referred to as Kannaland. Having higher rainfall than in the Karoo, the area attracted Khoisan and Attaqua populations to make their home in the valleys and mountains. Incredibly, part of the path that was forged through the Langeberg by the Attaqua is still visible today. 

Like most places in the Western Cape, the history of establishing the town began when European settlers and farmers began moving further into the valleys in search of fertile, arable land and fresh water sources.


The history of the Tradouw Pass is also closely linked to the establishment of Barrydale when the first suggestion to build a road that would connect the farming community to Swellendam was raised in 1854. The pathways and tracks though the Tradouw Valley were too steep to be turned into wagon routes and the alternate journey through Cogmanskloof proved too time-consuming for traders who wanted to sell their produce in Swellendam. 


In 1867 the Colonial secretary, Robert Southey, proposed in Parliament that convicts build the pass. The pass was first named after him, but it never became a popular choice and was reverted back to Tradouw Pass, meaning ‘Women’s Path’ in Khoisan, a few years later.

In the mid-1800’s a Dutch farmer, Adolph van Coller settled in the valley and was granted land. Under the organisation of the church, he in turn granted half of his land for the establishment of a village and the building of a church. After the pass was completed, the church was to be built at its northern end and the little village that began to grow around it was named in honour of the Barry family. Thus, a church and a crossroad were responsible for the birth of Barrydale.


At the time, the Barry family had a trading empire throughout Swellendam. James Barry who was not only a trader, but also acted as a lawyer, agent, auctioneer, deputy sheriff and military commander, was also in charge of surveying van Coller’s land. Some say that one of the Van Coller’s wives was in love with Mr Barry and she persuaded her husband to name the town after him. Either way, the church was completed in 1877 and has since been lovingly restored by the Botha family. 

Before the church was built, the dominee used to ride by horseback from Swellendam to deliver his services in a farm outhouse. Over the years, Barrydale grew as a village and in 1921 the Municipality was established.