Saturday 14th September will be remembered by all who attended the outing as a day with a difference. An enthusiastic gathering of 40 people started with coffee and tea at the Halls Training Centre at Mataffin. Rob Snaddon, past Managing Director of HL Hall & Sons, then gave us a wonderful presentation and talk on the 129-year history of the business. It was well illustrated and took us through the different eras. Several points came through very strongly. The risks and limitations of being a primary agricultural producer, the strengths of not always having family members leading the organisation, the need to diversify and dispose of loss-making businesses and crops, being generous and having strong governance. There were times of rapid growth and times of stagnation. Tough choices had to be made and ongoing adaption and research were always required. Our members thoroughly enjoyed this talk and found it very informative and it gave much insight into the business.
After the talk we departed in convoy for the first stop which was next to where the original farm operations started, near the siding just to the west of the industrial area and original trading store, still kept in its original state. From there it was past the old dairy, across the Crocodile River on one of the old bridges and up through the orchards to a high view site. Here Rob pointed out the wide span of land owned by HL Hall & Sons, past and present, which was literally as far as the eye could see and beyond.
Then we drove back and around the new stadium where we could see the old Cyril Clarke School and the sites of the old nursery and playing grounds. Then it was into the housing complex where we were taken through the “Heritage Park”. A timeline of stepping stones leads though old and new memorials, a chapel and graves and statues. After this it was a short walk over to Torburnlea, HL Hall’s magnificent heritage house built in 1923. Andrew and Kim Hall met us there and gave a talk on the history of the building along with many anecdotes. A tour of the house, with its many interesting features, followed.
With ours heads overflowing with all this history of the area we sat down to a very pleasant picnic lunch at the old fishing clubhouse on the Crocodile River. We are all very grateful to Rob, Andrew and Kim for being our hosts for the morning and felt privileged to be able to get such an insight to a story and places not easily accessible to the average Lowvelder.
Mpumalanga Heritage Newsletter No. 233 19.09.2019