A nice little town, on the day of our visit it was relatively clean, much better than Clocolan which we had driven through just before. That was February 2021. It is situated to the northeast of Bloemfontein, geo-position: 28.6656°S, 27.4302°E, and 1520m altitude.
The town was proclaimed in 1905, but its history goes further back than that. An application to the volksraad (parliament of the Free State) was already made in1883, it was rejected at that time, but the idea didn't die. It came up again in 1904 when a railway connection was being discussed. A new petition was drawn up which was granted by the colonial authorities. It was the minister of the NG church in Winburg, JJT Marquard, who was strongly advocating for a new village. He died on 18 December 1904 before the village was proclaimed. The new town was named after him for the prominent role he had played in establishing the town.
A congregation was formed by cutting areas from the congregations of Winburg, Senegal, Ladybrand and Ficksburg. The new congregation was officially formed on 11 July 1905. And started with an open-air service on church square led by JD Kestel. A small church building was erected in 1906 using money collected not only from the congregation, but also from the surrounding sister congregations. A picture of what it looked like from ref2 is shown below.
The congregation was spared the ruptions of the 1914 rebellion through leadership and diplomacy of Ds GJ de Vos, as happened in the neighbouring congregation of Winburg and also in Potchefstroom.
The cornerstone to a large church was laid on 14 August 1926 and the inauguration of the building was on 27 October 1926. Two months to build this church, that doesn't sound right, but these are the dates given in the sources. The architects were the partnership of Louw and Moerdijk. A magnificent building, in my opinion, the most pleasing these two architects have designed. Costs were £16938.
On our round through Marquard we noticed what looked like bullet holes in the glass front of the Stad huis, town hall. Inquiring with some people sitting and laying around there, one of them seemed to be a security guard, did not result in much information except that it was a protest. The Internet had to help. There were violent service delivery protests during March 2019. What we thought were bullet holes was caused by bricks and stones thrown at the offices.
The building itself, as the writing on the gable indicates, was built in 1923.
And whilst talking of service delivery, on the way out we noticed that the dam was empty despite good rain recently. The wall of the dam supplying the town was breached. From the Internet, I gather that this happened in April 2019. After many delays a tender to repair the damage had been accepted and work was about to start when in February 2021 the heavy rain caused further damage to the dam wall. This has now delayed work even further.
Arlington through Senekal to here. We did not see any traffic, but the state of the rails seems to indicate that it is still used occasionally. How old is the line? The stretch from Arlington to Senekal was completed in 1913 and the extension to Marquard was opened on 14 October 1925.
Ref 1: Standard Encyclopedia of Southern Africa, Nasou Limited, 1974
Ref 2: "Ons Kerk Album van Hollandsche Kerken en Leeraren", publisher: unknown, printed in the 1920's