Historic Pig stands firm
Famous Bathurst hotel, eatery and pub has proud service record
For former Johannesburg resident Lucille Came, a visit to the doctor changed her entire life.
Already itching for a career change, Came said her husband, a financial consultant, was sitting in a doctor's waiting room eight years ago when he happened to pick up a Country Life magazine. On the back cover was an advert for a hotel for sale in Bathurst.
Intrigued, he went home to tell his wife that they should go for it, a suggestion Came said she initially rejected.
“I'm a Joburg girl. Most importantly, I'm a Sandton girl. I couldn't come to Bathurst, so I said no,” she said.
“A month later he came to me and said 'please, I really want to try this thing out. I want to own a historical monument and live in a different place’. Our children are all grown up and we have grandkids. He asked me what I planned to do with my time now that the children were all out of our home. I finally agreed, and now I had a job.”
That job is managing the historic Pig and Whistle Inn.
Originally built in 1821 by blacksmith Thomas Hartely, it was years after his passing that his widow turned the eatery into an inn as a means to make a living. Travellers passing through the town stayed there.
Since then, the inn has passed through several owners in its 198 years of existence, all of whom are listed on a plaque in the pub wall.
While keeping the original structure of the hotel intact, Came said they had over the years made numerous changes to the rooms, bathrooms and furniture.
The massive dining room, which used to be a dusty, old antique shop, has now been transformed into a magical dining environment complete with chandeliers and artwork.
A new fireplace, built using original stone which dates back to the 1800s, adds to the ambience of the room on cold winter days.
A forge, once used by blacksmith Hartely, still occupies a corner of the dining room today.
Came said they also put in a swimming pool, made to look like a farm dam, in an aim to keep it looking natural.
“The previous owners broke through what used to be a ladies’ bar and a men's bar to make it a bigger space.
“They kept the original stone which was in the wall and we used that stone to make the fireplace,” she said.
The 10 rooms in the inn are separated into historic rooms and more modern rooms.
The historic rooms have no en-suite bathrooms, with guests making use of communal facilities in the passage, much like it was done when the inn first opened its doors.
All the rooms are furnished with antique furniture. Only one room has a television set.
“We don't want guests to just sit up here and watch TV.
“We want them to come down and experience the town, mix with the locals and get a real feel for the place,” Came said, adding that Saturday's were generally for watching sport while their Sunday roast regularly packs the place to capacity.
Came, who lives in neighbouring Port Alfred situated about 14 km away, said during her daily commute she often marvels at just how beautiful the area is.
“It’s been an amazing experience. I’ve met people I would never have bumped into in Johannesburg. Joburg is so big that you have your own community and you’re all the same, from the same walk of life.
“In a small village like this you get people from all walks of life. A complete cross section. It’s been a very enriching experience.”..