Barkly West is a town in the Northern Cape province of South Africa, situated on the north bank of the Vaal River west of Kimberley. One of the first towns to be affected by the diamond rush, the district’s economy is driven by stock and irrigation farming and mining.
Dikgatlong Local Municipality is a Category B municipality in Frances Baard District Municipality in the Northern Cape. It has seven wards. The municipal areas are Barkly-West, Windsorton, Delportshoop and a portion of the former Diamantveld District Council.
The head office of the municipality is situated in the town of Barkly West that is approximately 35 km north-west of the city of Kimberley on the northern bank of the Vaal River. Barkly West is situated on the Kimberley-Postmasburg growth corridor. The municipal area covers approximately 7 315 km² and borders with the Magareng Municipality in the north-east and Sol Plaatje in the south-east. Agriculture and mining form the economic basis of the area.
Barkly West was the site of the first major diamond rush, in 1869/1870, on the South African Diamond Fields, and was initially known as Klip Drift. This Dutch name means “stony ford” and is a direct translation from a much older !Kora or Korana name, Ka-aub (or !a |aub) – “stony (place along a) river”. Briefly the Klipdrift Diggers’ Republic was declared (the town assuming the name Parkerton after President Stafford Parker), before colonial rule was extended here. It became, with Kimberley, one of the main towns in the Crown Colony of Griqualand West and was renamed Barkly West. Like Barkly East, the town is named after Sir Henry Barkly, Governor of Cape Colony and High Commissioner for Southern Africa from 1870 to 1877. During the Anglo-Boer War the town was occupied by Boer forces and temporarily went by the name Nieuw Boshof.
The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin was the first Anglican Church to be built on the Diamond Fields. Sir Henry Barkly laid the foundation stone in February 1871.
Barkly West Museum situated in the Toll House at the Barkly Bridge.
The iron Barkly Bridge, the first over the Vaal River, was transported in sections from the United Kingdom (by sea, rail and, over the last more than 100 km by ox wagon) and erected across the Vaal in 1885. A steel plate gives details of its manufacture: “Westwood, Baillie & Co, Engineers and Contractors, London 1884.
Barkly West is sometimes erroneously spelled as “Barkley-West” (even in road signage). In Afrikaans the town is known as Barkly-Wes.