The picturesque little town of Colenso is situated on the banks of the Tugela River (Thukela) in Northern KwaZulu-Natal, 20km south of Ladysmith and 40km north of Estcourt.

In 1855 the town was named after Bishop John William Colenso. Prior to this the town was known as the Greater Tugela Drift as it was one of the major stopover points for the flourishing wagon transport trail between Durban and Johannesburg, and the Free State.

In 1908, the Colenso Directory proudly displayed 42 names. In 1926 Colenso was proclaimed a township and received borough status in 1958 after which the first Mayor and Council were elected.

The town is one of a few in South Africa which has a battery of guns in the Royal Artillery named after it, namely “159 Colenso Battery”. The Battery Commander visited Colenso during November 1996.

Today the little town retains its atmosphere with approximately 6000 residents. This town has a small but adequate commercial centre which caters for the needs of its residents. This comprises a supermarket, liquor store, tea rooms, service station, dairy shop, hardware store and vegetable market.

Anglo Boer War

The town’s name came to fame during the Anglo Boer War when General Buller’s Ladysmith relief force met its first reversal at the hands of Louis Botha’s Burghers holding the Tugela Line. The Battle of Colenso on 15th December 1899 was the first of five major battles to be fought to relieve the besieged town of Ladysmith and consequently there are a number of sites in and around Colenso related to these actions. (You can find all these sites listed under “Battlefields” – “South African/Anglo Boer War 1899 – 1902”)

Places of Interest