History – The Beginning of Gowrie


nottingham-road-kzn-berg-accommodation-drakensberg-midlands-balgowan-mooiriver118The allotments of John King and James Ellis were, like many others, too small and stony to be viable for farming. Disappointed, the families were lucky enough to have their own private means and so were able to retain ownership of the land (eventually selling the allotments for a profit) and stay in Natal while they sought better farmland. At last they were able to find a property near what is now Nottingham Road known as Wilde Als Spruit, owned by Petrus H. Potgieter. The property was bought by Janet King, her brother James Ellis and her three sisters, and was re-named after places in their native Scotland, namely Lynedoch and Balgowan. Before leaving Scotland, the families had been closely connected with the properties of Thomas Graham, Lord Lynedoch of Balgowan, whose estates were Balgowan, Lynedoch and Blairgowrie. When John King acquired a farm in 1858, it was named Gowrie, and it was on this farm that the village of Nottingham Road was established.

Potgieter was apparently very kind to the new settlers who had purchased his land, offering them sound advice and bringing the family and their effects from Pietermaritzburg. It took two or three trips to bring everything up to the farm but eventually the family were in place by May 1850, living rough under a large waterproof tarpaulin set upon wooden poles. This remained their home until a wattle and daub structure was built, with an annexe of sods for the kitchen. They lived here until a stone house was completed in 1856.