King William’s Town on the Buffalo River, 55 km north-west of East London. Founded in 1835 on the site of a mission station established in 1825, it became the headquarters of the Province of Queen Adelaide, and in 1847 the capital city of British Kaffraria. In 1861 it acquired civil status and was proclaimed a borough. It was named after King William IV of England.

King William’s Town falls under the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality. Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality is in the Amathole District of the Eastern Cape Province, on the eastern coast of South Africa. Consisting of the towns of East London, King William’s Town, Mdantsane, Zwelitsha and Bhisho, the municipality was named after the Buffalo River, which flows through East London.

King, as the town is locally called, stands at the foot of the Amatola Mountains and in the midst of a densely populated agricultural district. Amathole, meaning ‘the calves of the Drakensberg’ (foothills) in isiXhosa, reflects a rural lifestyle where the Xhosa communities continue to take their Nguni cattle out into the veld. The Amathole Mountain Escape Route stretches from Hogsback in the north, to the Great Fish River in the south and the Dwesa/Cwebe Nature Reserve in the east.

Points of interest.

The town has one of the oldest post offices in the country developed by missionaries led by Brownlee.

Steve Biko Museum in Ginsberg, King William’s Town

“It is better to die for an idea that will live, than to live for an idea that will die.” – Steve Biko

Steve Bantu Biko, was an anti-apartheid activist in the 1960s and 1970s. Biko founded the Black Consciousness Movement which empowered and mobilised the urban black population. At the age of 30, he died while in police custody but his slogan “black is beautiful” is still well known today.

The Steve Biko Museum in Ginsberg, near King William’s Town, pays tribute to the Black Consciousness Movement activists.

For bookings and more information contact the Steve Biko Centre

Tel: 043 605 6700


Amathole Museum

The Amathole Museum has its origins in the King William’s Town Naturalist Society founded in 1884. The Society’s collections quickly outgrew temporary accommodation in the Council Chambers and Public Library.

From these small beginnings, the museum grew. It is the major attraction for visitors to King William’s Town and also serves the local community.

The original museum building today forms the eastern wing of the Amathole Museum complex. It was officially opened to the public in October 1898 as The Museum of Natural History. A major extension to the building, linking it to the Public Library, was completed in 1953. The Wesleyan Church, and Post Office buildings were incorporated in the early 1980’s to house the growing museum.

Opening Times:

Monday – Thursday 08:00 – 16:30
Friday 08:00 – 16:00

Dale College Primary School

This fine red brick building is said to have been designed by the office of Sir Herbert Baker. Completed in 1908, the building was officially opened by Dr Thomas Muir, Superintendent of Education of the Cape Colony. It received National Monument status in 1982.

Visit the Eastern Cape Provincial Reserves page or Eastern Cape Private Reserves or maybe you would like to visit the Eastern Cape National Parks page.

Return to the Eastern Cape Towns/Cities page.