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 Mystery Location

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rusteze

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PostSubject: Mystery Location   Sat Mar 07, 2015 6:27 pm

Where is this?

Not a quiz, because I do not know the answer. This photo is in a Natal/Zulu War album. I posted it a number of years ago on the other site and it prompted a lot of responses, but no real conclusion. What can be seen? There appear to be some quite well worn dirt roads and tracks going up over a hill. There is an old looking verandah house on the left of the picture and a number of groups of structures that look less permanent. There are heavy wagons parked around some buildings.
Across the bottom, in the valley, is a telegraph line, so I am assuming it is in Natal and not Zululand. Is it a drift? Photos in the album stretch in date from 1873 to about 1880.

What do you think?

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90th

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PostSubject: Mystery Location    Sun Mar 08, 2015 8:14 am

Hi Steve
I've seen this before , did it have something to do with a railway line in Natal ? . I'm thinking this photo was also posted on here previously ? . I seem to remember , someone , mentioning it's an area where the railway went through , obviously after this photo was taken .
90th Suspect
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PostSubject: Re: Mystery Location   Mon Mar 09, 2015 1:59 pm

Steve & 90th

In 1879, the railway from Durban had not reached PMB - so this could be Bothas Hill which was the end of the line from which the soldiers marched on to PMB. I went there some years ago, although the railway has gone, the old station is now a small café.
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PostSubject: Mystery Location    Tue Mar 10, 2015 5:35 am

Hi Kenny
I think I'll go along with you , I think I remember talk of it being a place where the Railway was eventualy built .
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PostSubject: Re: Mystery Location   Tue Mar 10, 2015 2:30 pm

A possibility is that the view is of the northern outskirts of Estcourt. The view is directly northwards towards the high ground on which the suburb of Forderville was developed. The road passing behind Forderville is that leading from Estcourt to Colenso, while the fork to the right leads to Weenen. The small river below the high ground is the Little Bushman's, which meets the Bushman's River a mile or two right (east) from the photograph. The small valley west of Forderville now accommodates a farm road from which a fork to the left terminates at the farmhouse of Broomcliffe, which is the large house near the left margin of the photograph. At the time when the photograph was taken, Broomcliffe was evidently reached by a farm road from the Estcourt-Colenso road starting directly opposite the turnoff to Weenen. Broomcliffe is now owned and used for staff accommodation by Masonite Ltd, which built a factory adjacent to the Little Bushman's in the foreground of the photograph. This description can be followed on Google maps.

There was indeed a railway line built in the foreground of the photograph, but it was a narrow-gauge line that linked Estcourt to Weenen. It was torn up many years ago. The main railway line from Durban to Johannesburg was behind the photographer.

I lived in Estcourt during my teenage years, and my mother grew up at Broomcliffe, which is the reason for my identification of the photograph's location and features. Although I wrote the above description as if it was a certainty, I must point out that there may well be other possibilities.

Botha's Hill is an unlikely option, because the topography is wrong. The quaint and historic station at Botha's Hill is now derelict.

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PostSubject: Re: Mystery Location   Tue Mar 10, 2015 4:42 pm

Many thanks all.

Here is an enlargement of the "farmhouse".  Its location seems to correspond pretty well to the current one suggested by Brett on google maps, even to the side path up to the smaller building.

On the original photo you can also see the small stream that comes down the hill to the right of the house. I think you've solved it Brett. What date do you think?

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PostSubject: Re: Mystery Location   Wed Mar 11, 2015 6:48 am

Steve

Broomcliffe was one of several farms in the Estcourt district that were owned by the extended Oates family. The first Oates' arrived in Natal in 1850 - William E Oates, his wife, three sons and a daughter. One of the sons, Edward, was a transport rider between Durban and the Transvaal gold mines, and it was him who was largely responsible to acquiring the farms near Estcourt. Broomcliffe was inherited by his son Thomas, and it was Thomas who built the Broomcliffe farmhouse, using sandstone quarried on the farm. It was a typical Natal colonial farmhouse with large rooms, high ceilings, and wide verandahs. The most memorable of the rooms was the large billiard room, the walls of which were adorned with Tom's hunting trophies. The story of the Oates' occupancy of Broomcliffe is one of initial success , a tragic childless marriage, early deaths, long neglect, and final mismanagement that went with another tragedy, the death of a child. The house and farm are today in a shocking state of neglect.

Unfortunately, I do not have a date for the building of the Broomcliffe farmhouse. It was definitely there during the Boer War (1899-1902), and is likely to have been built during the previous decade or two. It had clearly been only recently completed when the photograph was taken, since none of the improvements to the surroundings had taken place (e.g. no established ornamental trees, no rose and other decorative gardens, no orchard [which was towards the stream, east of the house]).

Another clue about the date of the photographs may lie with the building complexes on open ground near the Estcourt-Colenso road. I believe that these were stopping places for the wagons of transport riders. Such places would have fallen into disuse as the railway line spread northwards through Natal, and rail transport replaced the less efficient ox wagon transport. The railway line had reached the Transvaal border by the time of the Boer War, but I do not know when Estcourt would have ceased to have been a transport rider's stopover.

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