Ueckerrmann Street starts at the present day round about next to Blesbok Spruit inclining to the Old Jail. It runs parallel to Voortrekker Street on both sides of the old market and church squares. Not only did the square determine the location, scale and proportions of the buildings to each other, but also to the setting of the street. It can be noticed that most of the double storey buildings are located in Ueckermann Street. They were built directly onto the pavement, and were therefore seen as the main trading centre. Hence the photo with the majestic buildings still to be seen centuries later.
An epitaph in the Kloof Cemetery states: “Sacred to the memory of Heinrich Julius Frederick Ueckermann, born in Medenburg-Germany, 20 July 1827, died 24 July 1883. Erected to the loving memory of the founder of Heidelberg by his sons.” His bust is proudly displayed and can still be seen at the entrance of our old City Hall. Heidelberg stayed loyal to its heritage of the fathers of which a proud and thankful lineage continues to this day.
Ueckerrmann usually travelled across the Blesbok Spruit from Pietermaritzburg to the North and back using the old oxwagen road.
On the Langlaagte farm, which would eventually become Heidelberg, Ueckerrrmann observed that the trading routes from the South to the North, as well as from the West to the East cross here. As an entrepreneur and master builder, he saw the opportunity to establish a trading post.
In 1859 he tried to convince the farmers (after whom Strydom and Venter Streets were named) to sell a piece of land. He wanted to erect a residential building and a shop. The piece of land was situated on the corner of Ueckerrmann Street across the Klipkerk. In 1860 he convinced the owners to establish a town where he would then act as their agent. This first application made to the National Council (“Volksraad”) failed, as none of the stands were formally measured at that time.
An Irish surveyor, Mr T. W Frannin travelled from Natal, passing through Heidelberg. During his travels in the North, he contracted Malaria. Ueckerrmann took care of him and provided him with lodging, for which he would do the surveying of the town. In return, he, however unfortunately succumbed to a Malaria related illness on 19 December 1865. He became the first person to be buried in the Kloof Cemetery.
After the development of the Church Square in 1865, a new application to establish the town had been made. Heidelberg was then officially proclaimed as a town on 28 March 1866. The topography of the town reminded Ueckerrmann of his Alma Mater, Heidelberg in Germany, hence the name Heidelberg.
Ueckerrmann become a member of the executive committee of the National Council (“Volksraad”) where he would represent Heidelberg’s constituency. Carl Frederick Ueckerrmann, replaced magistrate F K Maree on 6 March 1878 after he refused to serve under the British during the British annexation. During the 1890’s, Carl Ueckerrmann Jnr, a conveyancer, transferred properties in Heidelberg. Alfred Ueckerrmann who was part of the Heidelberg commando soldiers killed in action, was reburied in the Heroes Acre in the Kloof Cemetery on 17 October 1903.
Ueckerrmann’s vision to establish Heidelberg as an educational institution resulted in the establishment of the teacher’s college (1906-1967). Heidelberg tells a historic story of the South African struggle for independence, like no other town. It is an open book to all who would like to explore this story, and it starts with the struggle to establish our town.
Reverend Lion Cachet het the following to about Heidelberg is his book, ‘De worstelstrijd’: “…die van die Zuid westlijke grens naar het land de land voeren, beskrijft, is het dorp voor die Republiek van onschatbare waarde. Hoe goed de Boeren dit hebben ingezien, blijkt onder andere uit het feit, dat zij in den jongste wortelstrijd hun hoofkwartier en den zetel der Regeering te Heidelberg vestigden”
From trading post to capital – we toasting East, West, Ueckermant the Best.