Tourism, Accommodation and Historical Attractions in Natal, South Africa
The Midlands Region
The Natal Midlands: Richmond
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The original settlers came from Beaulieu, the seat of the Duke of Buccleuch in Richmond. As a result of difficulties in pronunciation, the town was renamed Richmond.
There are historically noteworthy buildings and is the centre of a farming district that is principally engaged in dairy, stock, timber and sugar cane.
Close to Richmond is the magnificent Hela Hela Valley and the Umkomaas river. Although it is on a gravel road, the views of the gorge are well worth the short drive.
In this area, Game Valley Estates offers hunting and photographic safaris amongst warthog, wildebeest and antelope. Near the town is Beaulieu Dam, used for picnicking and watersports. The Qunu Forest Reserve contains the 80m Qunu ('thunder') Falls.
The Richmond museum is located in the original Presbyterian manse (1882) and depicts settler history, the history of the local amaBhaca people who fled from Shaka and that of the Indian community which arrived in the 1860s.
Located in a National Monument featuring Byrne Settlers, Bhaca beadwork, Hindu Wedding, a collection of British Coronation and Christening mugs and Railway display. Also near Richmond is Blarney Cottage, one of the last original settler homes (1878).
14kms from Richmond is picturesque Byrne, a small village very reminiscent of rural England. The Oaks hotel offers tennis, bowls, riding and swimming. The area also offers a number of delightful walking and hiking trails.
Close to Richmond is the Baynesfield Estate. Joseph Baynes was an original Byrne Settler who, at the time of his death in 1925 owned a comprehensive network of butter factories, creameries, bacon factories and pig farms comprising the largest agricultural operation in South Africa.
He was one of the first in Natal to mechanize his operations and strongly supported the establishment of the agricultural college at Cedara and the promotion of agriculture at university level.
The Dreaded East Coast Fever, a tickborne disease killed many thousands of cattle in periodic outbreaks. Baynes was convinced that dipping was the answer and adapted an Australian method to local conditions. During the subsequent major epidemic, Baynes lost only eight cattle.
He entered parliament in 1890 and represented Ixopo for 20 years. He built a narrow gauge railway to assist farmers getting their goods to market. He assisted with the development of Maydon Wharf in Durban and recommended that Richards Bay be developed as a port.
He was predeceased by both his wives with no offspring and died a lonely man. On his death, he left his mansion to the nation with the instruction that it be used as a centre for agricultural research. He also founded the Baynes Memorial Home for men and boys in Pietermaritzburg.
His beautiful Victorian house and adjacent museum has been restored and is open to the public by appointment. There is also a 14km hiking trail on the estate with overnight accommdation in a stone cottage using the original stone from the site of a cottage built by Baynes.