Ladysmith is a city in the Uthukela District of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It lies 230 kilometres (140 mi) north-west of Durban and 365 kilometres (227 mi) south-east of Johannesburg. Important industries in the area include food processing, textiles, and tyre production.
Ladysmith is the seat for both the Alfred Duma Local Municipality and Uthukela District Municipality.
In 1900, the unincorporated town of Oyster Harbour (established c. 1898) on the east coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, was renamed Ladysmith by James Dunsmuir, in honour of the British lifting the siege of Ladysmith in South Africa (28 February 1900) during the Second Boer War.
In 1847, after buying land from the Zulu king Mpande, a number of Boers settled in the area and called it the Republic of Klip River with Andries Spies as their commandant. The republic was annexed by the British in the same year and on 20 June 1850 was proclaimed a township called Windsor. On 11 October 1850, the name was changed to Ladysmith after Juana María de los Dolores de León Smith, also known as “Lady Smith,” the Spanish wife of Sir Harry Smith, the Governor of the Cape Colony and high commissioner in South Africa from 1847 to 1852.
A fort was built in 1860 to protect the villagers from the Zulu.
Ladysmith is located on the banks of the Klip River (“stone river”), with the central business district and a large part of the residential areas located within the flood basin of the river. It is on the foothills of the Drakensberg mountains, about 26 km from the Van Reenen’s Pass.
Ladysmith has a subtropical highland climate (Cwb, according to the Köppen climate classification), with warm summers and cool, dry winters. It borders on a humid subtropical climate (Cwa). The average annual precipitation is 639 mm (25 in), with most rainfall occurring during summer.
Ladysmith is served by a small airport, (IATA: LAY, ICAO: FALY) is located on the outskirts of town just below Platrand at 28°34′48″S 29°45′10″E. The Aerodrome is managed and operated by JetVision Holdings Pty Ltd.
The Danskraal Yard is located on the Free State main line and the Glencoe–Vryheid line and acts as a depot for train marshalling and maintenance as well as rail maintenance. The passenger station is located some distance away from Danskraal close to the Central Business District.
The N11 links Ladysmith with Newcastle in the north and with the N3 Freeway in the south-west, while the R103 provides access to Colenso in the south and the N3 Freeway in the west.
Traffic traveling between Durban and Johannesburg used to pass through Ladysmith up until the late 1980s, but the completion of the N3 Toll Highway, bypassing Ladysmith 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) to the west, has caused a dramatic drop in traffic volumes through this town as well as others that are now bypassed.
In that regard, the old main road through Ladysmith is now designated as the R103.