When the Boer raiding party rode into Elandslaagte on 19 October 1899 they first made a turn at David Harris’ imposing red-brick residence. Harris, the General Manager of the Elandslaagte Colliery, was having dinner with Simpson Mitchell-Innes of the farm “Blanerne”, who was also one of the Directors of the Colliery. The ten minutes spent in conversation there gave the acting Station Master, G.P. Atkinson and his clerk, D. Christie, an opportunity to warn Ladysmith of the Boer’s arrival via the telegraph.
Known as “Long Toms”, the four 155mm siege guns installed in the forts to protect Pretoria, were supposed to be far too big and cumbersome to move, yet one of them (nicknamed Schanskop Tom), which had originally been installed at Fort Schanskop, was used to drive the British out of Dundee. It was manoeuvred up Impati Mountain and shelled the British camp on Ryley’s Hill. Unable to retaliate, the British were forced to withdraw from Dundee and make a hazardous, but mostly uncomfortable (in the pelting rain) retirement to Ladysmith.
Durban, to me is a motley memory of youthful, carefree and sunny beach holidays. While Cape Town offers stunning vistas, top-end restaurants and a sense of Europe-in-Africa, it somehow feels clinical in comparison. The exotic fragrances, clamour, sub-tropical climate and personal recollections are what most attract me to this colourful Indian Ocean city.
In the article below, journalist Lucille Davie delves into the history and significance of Border Cave. The article was first published on the Media Club South Africa website on 7 March 2013. Click here to view more of Davie's work.
Last weekend my husband Keith and I spent a weekend in Durban as guests of the Durban Art Deco Society (DADS). I was there to deliver the lecture at the Annual General Meeting of the Society on the Sunday morning at the Phansi Museum but we had about 26 hours to see Durban and pleasure the pulse of the Indian Ocean city which had been Keith’s home town and my favourite teenage holiday destination. I knew Durban from my childhood sojourns and then family visits to the grandparents once we had settled in Johannesburg but in recent years our visits have dwindled so
With reference to the early Durban based photographers Caney, one author recently confirmed the challenge in “disentangling” the relationship between the various Caney individuals.
The number of Caney photographs identified in the Hardijzer Photographic Research Collection also confirms that closer scrutiny was required as to who these photographers were. The photographs in this research collection, all dating from prior to 1905, include studio-based images as well as images captured during the Anglo-Boer war.
Below are snippets of information about the 'last man to walk out of Delville Wood'. The first contribution comes from Kevin Burge and the second is by Pat Rundgren (an excerpt from the book Dundee Men At War).
Dawn. Dundee, Natal. 20 October 1899. It was bitterly cold. Indeed, it had uncharacteristically snowed the previous week. Huge banks of fog covered the town and surrounding high ground. Intermittent drizzle made everything clammy and miserable. Breath puffed out like a steam train. All in all, a time for any sensible person to be indoors, in bed.
Although suffering from the worst drought in decades, one hopes that the rainy season is going to hit Zululand with a vengeance this year. From mid October onwards the heavens open up and the countryside transforms itself from harsh, barren, rock strewn tawny hillsides into rolling slopes covered with emerald green grass, rushing rivers and sparkling air. Looming massively on the skyline, and lit most afternoons by truly spectacular forked lightning streaking across the pitch black sky, Itala Mountain has a particularly eerie feel to it.
On the western heights of the Biggarsberg, Mkupe Mountain looks down on the strategic pass to which it gives its name and the Inkunzi river. During the Anglo-Zulu War (1879) and the 1st Anglo Boer War (1881), this pass was of vital concern to the British Army, as it was their supply line between military headquarters in Pietermaritzburg and the Frontier stations of Newcastle and Dundee. It was also the shortest route for any Boer invading force to strike at the communications system of the British defending forces and the quickest route to take to Ladysmith.
In the article below Pam McFadden reveals some of the history behind the Little Church at Van Reenen which is considered by many to be the smallest church in the southern hemisphere.
A Northumbrian by birth, Dr Prideaux Selby was already a middle aged bachelor when he sailed with the Byrnes' settlers to South Africa in 1850. He became the first doctor and Justice of the Peace to the Boer families in the Biggarsberg and lived at “Mooiplaas” for 25 years. He was held in high regard and loved by the Boer families – so much so that the names “Prideaux” and “Selby” were used extensively by the Boer families to name their children.
Major William Knox-Leet was born in Dalkey, County Dublin on 3 November 1833. The youngest son of a Episcopalian rector, he graduated from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland and became an ensign in the 13th Prince Albert's Light Infantry in July 1855. In 1858 he was sent to British India where he saw action in several engagements during the Indian Mutiny. From 1867 until 1872 he served as an arms instructor in England. In July 1872 he became Deputy Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster-General in County Cork, Ireland.
It took the Africa Media Online digitisation team two months to digitise over 4,000 traditional Zulu artefacts at the Phansi Museum in Durban. The project, funded by the National Lottery Commission was awarded to the Phansi Museum for the digitisation of their collection and the building of a digital archive. The funding was awarded in 2015. We, however, were on site at the museum premises toward the end of 2016.
This article, which focuses solely on South African beach photography prior to 1970s, is an extension on a similar article recently published on South African pavement photography (click here to read).
A documentary currently in the making will take a fresh look at the shooting of a classic film made in KwaZulu-Natal in the Sixties. And the producers are appealing for help. Stephen Coan reports.
Plans are afoot for the shooting of a feature length documentary Zulu and the Zulus in KwaZulu-Natal next year.
A soldier who would one day retire in Hermanus surprised himself by earning the highest British military award. He is William Henry Hewitt who was awarded the Victoria Cross in 1917 and who lived in Natal, South Africa between 1905 and 1915 and in Hermanus in the 1950s. He returned to the UK only when he was terminally ill early in the 1960s, but left instructions that his body should be cremated and the ashes cast into the sea at his favourite resting place along the Hermanus Cliff Path.
The railways of Southern Africa have developed since the mid-nineteenth century and the earliest built were based on the proven technology of the railways of Great Britain. The first railway lines were begun in 1859 in Cape Town and Durban (for more information click here for “Ox-Wagon to Iron Horse”) and were laid to the gauge of 4ft-8½in (1435mm).
In a recent article published by the author (click here to view), reference was made to a modern photographic phenomenon, namely “found photographs”. In short: “Found photographs” are discarded vintage photographs typically found at charity stores, car boot sales, flea markets or antique fairs. As a single image, any “found” or the converse thereof, “lost” photograph, has sadly lost its original context when viewed by a total str
Settlers from Northern Germany came into Natal in two main groups. The first to arrive was a group contracted to the Natal Cotton Company. This was a company established by Jonas Bergtheil, who had come from Germany in 1843 scouting for business opportunities in the region. He found one when he noticed cotton being grown.