Brief History of Mpophomeni

Mpophomeni Town was originally established in 1964 as a dormitory suburb for black laborers who came from rural areas to Howick town to work at SARMCOL (south African Rubber Manufactoring Company Limited) and also to work in the construction of the Midmar Dam. Most of the Mpophomeni dwellers were forcibly removed from where the Midmar DAm is today and Howick West known by then George Ross Farm. Mpophomeni derives its name from the world reknowned Howick waterfalls.

Nokolunga Gumede Wall of Reconciliation
The Sarmcol (South African Rubber Manufacturing Company) strike occurred in Howick in 1985, which was considered a 'breadwinner' of the Mpophomeni community in the 1980s. The fight was between the people of Mpophomeni and the people living in the rural areas of Kwa Shifu, Haza and Mahingeni. The community of Mpophomeni was stoic ANC supporters and the rural areas were strongly behind the opposing IFP (Inkatha Freedom Party). The death of Nokulunga Gumede, a five year old girl who was run down by a military vehicle (Casper) during the violence taking place in the township at the time was a catalyst for change - no-one stopped the violence when they had the chance. Reconciliation only truly started between the township and the rural occupants in 1993 and 1994. This involved lengthy negotiations primarily involving many Dominican people from a range of places. The memorial was built in remembrance of this and named after Nokulunga Gumede - the youngest victim of the violence as well as commemorating the 120 people that died. These names represent a contribution to the freedom that all South Africans enjoy today - something well worth celebrating on a daily basis.

The Renovation of Montrose House - A Significant Historical Building

Montrose House: General statement of significance and legislative context

Montrose House is a good example of a veranda farm house constructed of random-coursed stone as well as coursed stonework under a multiple-ridged complex corrugated-sheeting roof. It has a veranda to two-and-a-half sides, and is sited in a valley which in the past maximized both its shelter from the elements as well as its proximity to water. It is situated at Mphophpomeni, a town some fifteen kilometers outside Howick, KwaZulu-Natal. Associated with it are a number of outbuildings which do not form part of this current study, but did in the past form part of a functioning farm. Floors are of Oregon pine with yellowwood thresholds, and the stocky veranda posts are of the same timber. A mixture of sash and casement windows is testimony to its evolution, and grand French doors access the main veranda from the reception rooms. The house has been subject to the usual accretions and additions in its history. Brian Kearney considers the house as "This is a fine example of a midlands farmhouse in the Natal veranda style. The floor plan develops along an extended axis and has veranda to three sides. The spreading corrugated iron roofs are of a complex form and shelter stone walls' (Kearney; 1988: 20)

Montrose House is situated on the farm Rietvallei which originally formed part of a Boer land grant of 6000 acres, being granted to the Pretorius family. Legend has it that Andries Pretorius used a stone 'fort' on the farm in defence against the British. In 1855 the property was purchased by Dr William Addison, a Byrne Settler who came originally from Addington Park in Kent. He is responsible for the building of the homestead. Indeed, his son, Charles Brabazon Addison gives his residence as being at this farm in the 1890 Almanac. (Dorning;1997:35) CB Addison was responsible for starting the Umhlatuze Valley Sugar Company before tragically dying of Blackwater fever whilst hunting elephant in Tanzania. This family also owned a successful sugar farm, also called Addington which was at New Guelderland.

Rietvallei Farm was then bought in 1911 jointly by Charles Lund and ES Goodwill. Charles Lund served the community in a generous fashion, to the extent of dying during a Natal Provincial Council meeting. Guy Lund took over the property in 1923 after this event. The Lund family remained in it for many decades.

Tragedy struck when the property was expropriated for the formation of Mpophomeni Township, a construct of the then South African Government. The intention was to remove as many of the workers from living in KwaMevana, that worked for British Tyre and Rubber, now Dunlop. Guy Lund was so affected by this expropriation that he committed suicide.

The site of Montrose House is thus poignant- not only were the families of the people settled in Mpophomeni deeply affected by the forced move, but also the members of the family that had suffered from expropriation in the name of separate development. This makes it an important site.

Montrose House's early history as part of a Voortrekker farm, the cognizant architectural manipulation of the old, simple two-roomed structure into a formal residence, and its subsequent poignant participation in the structural creation of apartheid policy make it a unique example of a building that has a multitude of historical, social, and political links in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.

It is in very good structural and material condition considering its lack of recent maintenance, and, together with appropriate interpretation, can be used to convey a message as to the endurance of old buildings, in addition to the manner in which they should be looked after.

Given that the house is over 60 years old, it is protected by the KwaZulu-Natal Heritage Act no 10 of 1997. Alterations and repairs to the property will have to be submitted to Amafa for approval, and the work must be carried out by a competent and approved contractor who has experience in judicious repair work. This renovation project is a brainchild of Zulu Mpophomeni Tourism Experience and it is carried out under supervision of Debbie Whelan of Archaic Consulting.


Dorning, D (1997) Chimneys in the mist
Howick, Brevitas
Kearney, B (1988) Verandas in the Mist
National Monuments Council


Eco Museum

Eco Museum

Eco Museum



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