While reading ‘Diary of an African Journey ‘by Rider Haggard I came across this paragraph:
‘Mr Parr, however, the owner of the store where we slept gave me a number of cartridge cases and the head of one of Durnfords rockets. He has another rocket dug out of the bank of a donga near the store, which is still unexploded.
The references intrigued me on a number of issues, where was the store, why would there be rockets there and who was Mr Parr, possible a relative of the more famous Henry Hallam Parr?
The last question first: Mr Charles Evelyn Parr was born in 1885 in Nottingham England, the son of G Parr of Cliff House, The Park, Nottingham. How and why he arrived in South Africa I haven’t been able to ascertain, but around 1901 at the age of 16 he became the manager of a store and hotel at iSandlwana owned by a Mrs Jean Flindt, a resident of Nqutu. Mrs Flindt held a 999 year lease over the property.
At some point Charles Parr joined the Zululand Mounted Rifles, I would speculate and say the influence of Mr Flindt had something to do with this. He served in the 1906 rebellion with the Zululand Mounted Rifles and was awarded the Natal Rebellion Medal with 1906 clasp.
Once the rebellion had abated Charles returned to the iSandlwana store but with a little more determination to build a future he sought to sublease from Mrs Flindt. This he managed to do after wading through the Government red tape in December 1907.
This would then answer the second question as to where the store was located, this circa 1910 photograph shows both the store and the hotel.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
The store in question no longer exists, I believe there are still signs of the foundation walls evident on the banks of the donga but comparing a then and now photograph the site is pretty identifiable. [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
That would then to a degree answer the last of the questions, how did the rockets end up in the donga. Three possible answers to that question, firstly they were dropped by a retreating warrior, second they were washed downstream in the occasional flash floods or thirdly they were dumped there when Durnfords men retired on the camp. Lt Harry Davis mentions that they did retrieve two boxes of rockets but had to dump them. Possibly the donga was the area they were dumped.
Mr Parr eventually moved on and died in 1953, still keeping store on a farm not to distant from Pietermaritzburg.
Mrs Flindt was overtaken by the desire of the Government of the day to create Native and Separate white areas, the forerunner to Apartheid, and lost her lease.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
The store itself was demolished some time before 1933 and a second structure built slightly to the South by a Mr Lundin, this structure lasted until pulled down to make way for the Day Hospital facility presently on the site.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Just a bit of fun.