(prior to 1910)
The division of Paarl was originally part of the district of Stellenbosch, and was proclaimed a separate division in 1839. Like Stellenbosch its economy was based upon the production of wine, although in some areas good yields of grain were also obtained. The district surrounding Wellington, also known as Wagonmaker's Valley, was renown for the manufacture of carts and wagons, many of which found a ready market in territories north of Cape Colony. The area also included two breweries and a large tanning works.
The following census figures are available for the division:
1865 census: 15,583 residents, of whom 5,209 were literate
1875 census: 18,076 residents, of whom 6,489 were literate
1891 census: 21,363 residents, of whom 8,961 were literate
1904 census: 30,423 residents, of whom 14,176 were literate.
The Paarl valley was first colonised in 1687 when land was allocated to 23 families from Stellenbosch. The district was initially known as Drakenstein, after its church congregation, but when a village was founded at the foot of Paarl Rock in 1690, it was named Paarl. The name in Dutch means "a pearl", and was derived from the fact that the granite rocks which crown the hillside above it glisten after a rainfall like pearls or diamonds. It was visited by John Barrow in 1797 when he reported that: "The village of the Paarl is situated at the foot of a hill that shuts in the Valley of Drakenstein on the west side. It consists of about thirty habitations disposed in a line, but so far detached from each other, with intermediate orchards, gardens and vineyards, as to form a street from half a mile to a mile in length. About the middle of this street, on the east side, stands the church, a neat octagonal building covered with thatch; and at the upper end is a parsonage house, with garden, vineyard, and fruit-groves; and a large tract of very fine land."
In April 1862 Mrs Ross, an English visitor to the Cape, described Paarl as having a "main street nearly six miles long ... bordered all down its dusty length by fine capacious houses, standing in their own green compounds, and well sheltered by avenues of oak and fir ..."
Just over forty years later, in 1903, Mrs Alys Fane Trotter commented that: "... at the entrance to Paarl is an avenue of pines noble enough for the approach to any Greek city. Ciccalas shrill under the aromatic branches, brown labourers pass to and fro with baskets of melons and grapes, or a long ox team ploughs through the soft white dust."
The 1865 census indicated that Paarl had a population of 4,929. In 1875 this number had risen to 5,760, and in 1891 it was 7,668. By 1904 it stood at 11,293, of whom 5,971 were literate.
Prepared by Franco Frescura.
Paarl, a mere 60 kilometers from Cape Town and less than an hour by car from the golden beaches of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, is renowned not only for its illustrious past and unrivaled scenic beauty, but also presents holiday makers an exciting Tourist Destination. Paarl is one of the oldest towns in South Africa and particularly known for its mountain or "Paarl Rock". The huge granite rock is formed by three rounded outcrops that make up Paarl Mountain and is the second largest granite outcrop in the world.
Paarl boasts a unique attraction in the fact that the foundations of a new language, Afrikaans, a combined Heritage of Africa. The Monument to the Afrikaans language on the slopes of Paarl Mountain, the Language Museum and the Afrikaans Language Route through Dal Josaphat are living Memorials to this achievement.
Paarl's scenic splendour, with five mountain passes and magnificent surroundings, the Berg River majestically winding its way through and bringing life to deciduous fruit orchards and vineyards right up to the heart of the Town, and luxuriant vegetation, provide sufficient incentive to pay Paarl a visit. Add to this the rich Heritage of well preserved Historic Buildings scattered through the town, the large number of top-quality Restaurants offering traditional Cape cuisine, accommodation for tourists in Hotels and on Farming Estates, and the inevitable Wine industry - and you no longer have an argument in favour of visiting Paarl but an obligation to do so. As far as the Wine industry is concerned, Paarl boasts the headquarters of the industry in South Africa, the co-operative Wine Growers' Association (KWV) and the Paarl wine route. The KWV is a South African institution that over the years has acquired an international reputation because of its unique achievements and its imprint of quality on the industry.
Other attactions include the Paarl wine route, Ostrich Farm, Le Bonheur Crocodile Farm, Butterfly World and much much more.
* Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve, especially noted for the enormous 500 million year-old granite rock (Paarl, Bretagne & Gordon) that gives Paarl its name.
* The Afrikaans Language Monument, on the slopes of Paarl Mountain and the Afrikaans Language Museum situated in the town.
* Treasure house of South African architecture along a 2 km stretch of the Main Street.
* The Paarl Museum is a must for its Cape Antiques and contemporary exhibitions of Paarl.
* The Ikhwezi Centre is the home to Bhabhathane weavers and artists from Mbekweni.
* In the Arboretum there are 700 indigenous and exotic species of trees. A footbridge across the Berg River gives access to paved walkways on the river bank.
* The Bird Sanctuary along the banks of the Berg River features 136 species of birds. Species include the beautiful Malachite Kingfisher, Maccoa Duck, African Marsh Harrier & African Fish eagle.
* Le Bonheur Crocodile Farm
* Butterfly World
* Lion Park
Just outside Paarl is the Drakenstein Prison, where Nelson Mandela spent his last years in captivity and where he completed his long walk to freedom. In the 2011 Census; Females are the dominatory Gender, by a mere 4%. Afrikaans is still the prefered Language, with 93 704 people using it! The most used African Language is isiXhosa, 5001 people speak it!