• DATE: TUESDAY 13th AUGUST 2013
  • VENUE: KwaMUHLE MUSEUM, Bram Fischer Road [Ordnance Road] Durban.
  • TIME: Meeting commences at 17h30; Refreshments will be served from 16h45.
  • PARKING: Off Bram Fischer/Ordnance road [next to the Museum]; security person is present who will raise the boom; please wait for him
  • FEATURE: This month we welcome fellow member, THEUNIS ELOFF, as our guest Speaker and he will be talking on the “ROYAL JEWELLRY”. Perhaps this is most apposite considering the birth of a Royal baby boy to the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge and the recent abdication of King Albert II of Belgium in favour of his eldest son, Philippe. Interestingly King Philippe took his oath in the country’s three official languages – Dutch, French and German. Belgium is a constitutional monarchy in which the king plays a largely ceremonial role.


A poignant beginning to Stephen Coan’s talk on Rider Haggard was the photo of the monument commemorating those killed at Isandlwana and the defence of Rorke’s Drift – a photo taken when Rider Haggard was Sir Henry Rider Haggard towards the end of a 400 hundred mile tour through Zululand. Haggard was born in 1856. His father was a Norfolk land owner and his mother a poet; disappointed in his son’s academic progress, in 1875 Haggard’s father offered to his friend, Sir Henry Bulwer, recently appointed lieutenant-governor of Natal, the secretarial services of his nineteen year old son. In Pietermaritzburg, the Natal capital, Haggard met Theophilus Shepstone, the Secretary for Native Affairs, who was to exert the greatest influence on the young Haggard. Stephen Coan concentrated mainly on the time Rider Haggard spent in Natal and the opportunities he had for travelling –especially to Zululand – and meeting prominent people including interviewing John Dube. It was in recognition of Haggard’s public service [a major authority on agriculture and land issues] and not for his literary achievements that he was knighted in 1912 but for most of us his books are well known. Now because of Stephen’s talk we know even more about Sir Henry Rider Haggard.


As you know, from the last Newsletter, the Annual General Meeting of the South African National Society will be held at the Royal Natal Yacht Club on the 2nd November 2013, including lunch. Please be sure to diarise the event as I don’t think you’d like to miss out!!


It was much appreciated that members of the Highway Heritage Society were able to join us.

There was a most interesting beginning of the tour at Kearsney College – despite all the cars and hockey players! – as Robin Lamplough took us to an open area overlooking the valley where the Umhlatuzana River begins and pointed out various places of interest, including the fact that some amateur archaeologists had found signs of early iron workers settlements. It was fortunate that this was done before Inanda dam was built and this may explain why the Voortrekker, Mr Potgieter, named his farm ‘Assagay Kraal’.
There was/is some controversy over the naming of Botha’s Hill — some claiming it is named after Philip Rudolph Botha, grandfather of Louis Botha, others claim Botha’s Hill was named after Cornelis Botha who opened a wayside inn known as Botha’s Halfway House. Amongst other occupations it is known that Cornelis Botha was the first harbour master of Port Natal.
We then went in convoy to the site of the Clough’s Halfway House’ at Alverstone, a welcome stop-over for many a weary wagon driver making his way to the capital from the Port. Mr Clough who also named his inn ‘Halfway House’ changed it to the Royal Hotel after Prince Alfred, son of Queen Victoria, stayed there. Later Clough’s was in competition with John Padley, who had taken over Botha’s Halfway House on the other side of Botha’s Hill.
Continuing in convoy we then went to the probable site of Botha’s Halfway House, where there was, until some twenty years ago, a huge old oak tree where wagons used to stop.
So much history and we were very fortunate to have such an able and articulate guide in Robin Lamplough, but that wasn’t the end! After all the facts we then repaired to Robert King’s house, in Everton, for a most sumptuous tea. Robert had done all the baking including using family recipes for the delicious shortbread and scrumptious cheese straws; this was all kindly laid on by Robert for the Killie Campbell bursary fund. The R20 donation was surely a feast of facts as well as a spread at tea ‘fit for a king’!


At the end of July –the 29th to be precise – 108 years ago Dag Hjalmar Agne Carl Hammarskjöld was born, the youngest of four sons of Agnes (Almquist) Hammarskjöld and Hjalmar Hammarskjöld, prime minister of Sweden. He died in a plane crash in September 1961. Presented to the United Nations as a memorial to Dag Hammarskjöld is the ‘Peace Window’ a gift from the United Nations staff members, as well as Marc Chagall [birth name: Moishe Shagal] himself. Designed by Chagall the musical symbols in the panels evoke thoughts of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, which was a favourite of Dag Hammarskjöld

The Cullinan Diamond was mined in 1905; it weighed 3,106 carats in it’s rough state and was originally thought to be a worthless crystal! The manager of the mine almost threw it out as rubbish but on closer inspection ‘the piece of rock’ was found to be a genuine diamond. Near Pretoria, the mine, at that time, was called the Premier mine and the chairman of the mining company was Thomas Cullinan after whom the diamond was named. Eventually, the Prime Minister of the Transvaal – then a British crown colony – suggested his government should acquire the Cullinan and present it to Edward VII as a token of loyalty. Cuts [of the diamond] were used in the Crown Jewels – the Imperial State Crown and the Sovereign’s Sceptre. Many of the items worn regularly by Queen Elizabeth II over the past six decades, use gems cut from the incomparable Cullinan Diamond.

And so Theunis Eloff’s talk about the Royal Jewellery should be fascinating; see you on the 13th!

Naureen Craig
23rd July 2013


Newsletter August 2013