liquor licence
The automated system will also be able to detect counterfeit licences. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Home » Passionate about pubs? Explore the oldest ones in SA

Passionate about pubs? Explore the oldest ones in SA

South Africa has a rich pub culture. Here are the oldest pubs in the country where you can explore this vibrant culture.

liquor licence
The automated system will also be able to detect counterfeit licences. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

SA takes pride in its vibrant pub culture. Some pubs have a lot of history and heritage, giving them a special charm. Cape Town is home to two of the oldest pubs in the country.

THE HISTORY OF THE PIG AND WHISTLE INN

A strong contender for being one of SA’s oldest pubs, is the Pig and Whistle in Bathurst, Eastern Cape. Claiming a founding date of 1832, the historic Pig and Whistle Inn, is the oldest continuously licensed pub in the country and has a rich history. It was originally called the Widow Hartley’s Inn. The inn acquired its current name when a group of British stationed nearby decided to name it after a local pub in England.

Pig and Whistle Hotel, Kowie Road, Bathurst. Image by Wikimedia Commons/Lugerda
Pig and Whistle Hotel, Kowie Road, Bathurst. Image by Wikimedia Commons/Lugerda

THE RADIUM BEERHALL

Compared to the other oldest pubs in the country, the Radium Beerhall is a young contender as it was established in 1929. However, it holds the distinction of being the oldest surviving bar in Johannesburg and has a colourful history. Originally known as the Radium Tearoom, it operated as an illicit alcohol venue for 13 years before obtaining a licence and changing its name.

OLDEST PUBS IN CAPE TOWN

Cape Town boasts with two of the oldest pubs in South Africa – The Fireman’s Arms and Perseverance Tavern.

Coal stokers used to frequent the Fireman’s Arms when it was a dockyard establishment – from there its name. Since its founding in 1864, the pub has embraced the persona of modern firefighters.

There are several contenders for the title of “oldest pub in South Africa”. Perseverance Tavern, called Percy’s by the locals, has perhaps the strongest case. It received its first official liquor licence in 1836. Before that, it had already been operating as an unofficial public house for nearly 30 years, catering to a diverse mix of mostly affluent patrons. Today, it attracts a young and lively crowd to its polished, ancient wine cask tables.

Perseverance Tavern, Buitenkant Street, Cape Town. Image by Wikimedia Commons/Discott
Perseverance Tavern, Buitenkant Street, Cape Town. Image by Wikimedia Commons/Discott

DE AKKER, STELLENBOSCH

Not far from Cape Town, is Stellenbosch that is also home to one of the oldest pubs in the country – De Akker. Dating De Akker is challenging due to the loss of its original records in a fire in the early 1800s. As a result, it is unclear when alcohol was first served here. However, locals claim that De Akker received its first liquor licence in 1872. It is the oldest pub in Stellenbosch. This legendary pub is a hotspot amongst locals and students of this university town.

STAR OF THE WEST, KIMBERLEY

Established in 1870, the Star of the West, has an intriguing history. It has a dilapidated appearance from the outside, but when you step inside through the classic saloon swing-doors, you will see an impressive yellowwood bar top. Legend has it that the sailors who survived a tragic shipwreck of their vessel, the Star of the West, saved and brought the bar counter to the city.

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