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CALL TO PRESERVE LINK WITH 1860 SETTLERS

Article - Courtesy of SUNDAY TIMES

1860


 

GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN  

HISTORY OF THE MILL

Mount Edgecombe was founded in 1849 when Captain William Smeardon was given a plot of land under the Byrne Emigration Scheme (1849-1851). He built the first sugar mill in the area in 1859. The sugar mill was not very profitable and production was low. This changed when Marshall Campbell purchased the mill in 1895. With this takeover, Natal Estates Limited, one of the largest sugar milling giants in South Africa was born.

Under the Campbell’s, the Sugar Mill witnessed unprecedented growth. The expansion of the company resulted in the establishment of twenty- two sugar estates whose specific purpose was to cultivate and provide a constant supply of sugar cane to the Mount Edgecombe Sugar Mill. The closure of the Mount Edgecombe Sugar Mill in 1994 witnessed the end of an important chapter in the history of the sugar industry in Kwa Zulu Natal.

Today almost all the estates have sold to private developers. Life in the village has changed. Many of the local villagers have left to seek new jobs. Some have purchased the company homes and continue to live in the estates. People who now occupy the villages are strangers to each other. Life in the villages has changed and continues to change with the passage of time and it will never be the same again. The Mill and Sugar Estates attracted people of all cultures due to their rich cultural heritage. A rainbow of true colors and an environment of rich sweet aroma, an experience the young and the young at heart will always remember for a long time.  

The closure of the mill has not only robbed the humble and passive community of the livelihood their social and cultural lifestyle has been equally affected.

The mill was brought to ground – zero to make provisions for an industrial site what was left after the demolishing was the tall chimney. Attempt to further restore the chimney failed. The PHOENIX FOUNDATION TRUST worked closely with local councilor and an approach was made to the Deputy Mayor of eThekwini Municipality Mr. Logie Naidoo to assist in this matter.
Mr. Logie Naidoo made correspondence to Tongaat Hulett.   
Mr. Ian Hunter was in favor of our request. However, the present mill chimney could not be saved due to many years of standing and became weak. But it promised to erect a monument to commemorate the people that worked in the sugar mill estates.  

Our request in establishing a symbol at the old mill site in memory of the many pioneers who served in the Sugar Mill and estates for nearly one and a half centuries has received a positive response.

In our attempts to secure the chimney is unfortunate due to the weakness in the structure. But what is promised is that the entrance of the new industrial area will be greeted with a symbol that will always remind us of the enormous contribution made for decades by the hundreds of dedicated and loyal men and women. This also may help the future generation to identify with their cultural roots, as this mill is related to the 1860 settlers.

eThekwini Municipality Deputy Mayor, Logie Naidoo and cultural and community  leader George Mari MPL replied to the plea made by the PHOENIX FOUNDATION TRUST a community based organization. Numerous, correspondence between the Deputy Mayor’s office and Tongaat Hulett Property has resulted in the success of such monument to be erected.

The PHOENIX FOUNDATION TRUST says a big thank you to namely Deputy Mayor Logie Naidoo and George Mari MPL and Tongaat Hulett Property also to the community for supporting us in saving some of the historical landmarks in our area. Mount Edgecombe will always be close to the hearts of the people as the blessed fertile soil gave rise to religion, sports, culture, entertainment and education.


 

Courtesy of
The Phoenix SuN

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