Museums and History

Cato Manor Museum                                       

Cato Manor Heritage Centre is a unique and interactive museum that captures the this community’s spirit of defiance to Apartheid

Cato Manor Heritage Centre
750 Francios Road Cato Manor
Telephone : +27 31 261 3216

Immense photographic prints adorn the walls, with striking photography of dissent, despair and defiance.  But the centre also gives a sense of the humanity and the vibrance of the Cato Manor community.

A broad and dynamic space, the centre utilises the abundant natural light to illuminate floor-to-ceiling photographic prints that capture the strife and fierce struggle for freedom that are synonymous with this historic area.

Exhibits in the form of news clipping, historial accounts and letters, document the evictions, riots and rebellion that marred the area for decades.

With a focus on the infamous Durban System, the severity of the tone is offset by artwork produced by local artist Joseph Manana, and oral history read by the likes of Jacob Zuma, among others, and by quotations of the residents.

 Bergtheil Museum

(S 29° 50.061’/E 30°55.827’)
16 Queens Ave, Westville 031-2662954

Housed in the oldest building in Westville, on the original farm Wandsbeck, later renamed Westville, the farmhouse dates back to the early 1840’s. It was named after Jonas Bergtheil, a businessman who recruited German settlers for the 1848 cotton growing venture in Natal. The area became prime cotton growing country until the cotton crop was affected by the red spider mite. Made of stone blocks and rubble bonded with a mixture of mud, the interior has yellowwood floors and deep set windows. Declared a National Heritage Monument in 1983. The museum houses a fine collection of German period furniture and relics, military records, Zulu and some Hindu displays. Excellent genealogy records are kept for Westville, New Germany and Cato Ridge German families.

Entry free. Opening Times: Mon-Fri. 8h30-16h00. Saturday.08h-12h00. Closed Sunday.

Pinetown Museum

(S29° 48.968′ E30° 51.717).

Tel 031-311 6343 Fax 031-3116331

Housed in the architectural award winning library building opened in 1982, the museum is situated in the C.B.D. It has an excellent display of Multiculural artefacts and photographs relating to Pinetown, from archaeological times to the present. An 1860 altar from Mariannhill Mission and a modern fabric wall hanging, compliment the model of Pinetown and its historic buildings.

Admission is free.

Opening times: Monday 12h00 to 17h00 Tuesday to Friday; 10h00 to 17h00. Saturday 08h30 to 12h00. Closed on Sundays.

Old New Germany Road and Village Market

(S 29° 4.651’/E 30° 55.825’).

The original road from Durban to Pinetown across the Palmiet River.

Westville Mosque

This Mosque was founded in 1904 on the instructions of a famous missionary saint called Haji Shah Goolam Mohamed or Sufi Sahib as he is better known.  There is a vernacular school attached to the Mosque. Buildings have been altered over the years but the gateway, courtyard and school  are original.  A well in the courtyard provides water for cleansing facilities before prayers and free water for the Indian community during droughts. High walls provide privacy and safety from the busy main road beyond the Mosque.

Booking essential.

Site of first outspan from Durban. (On public road)

During the days of the ox-wagons and prior to the construction of the railway in the late 1870s, Westville was the first outspan from Durban. The oxen would graze in the veld where Westville Boys’ High School’s Bowden’s Field is situated. An old ficus natalensis (Natal Fig) was the landmark but it died and one of its ‘offspring’ now grows within the stone walled enclosure. Among those who enjoyed its shade were Sir Theophilus Shepstone (Secretary for Native Affairs in the Colony of Natal), Dr John William Colenso (later Bishop of Natal), Carl Mauch (the well known early geologist) and Thomas Baines (the famous artist and explorer).

Umbilo Water Works/Paradise Valley

Durban had relied on wells for it’s water supply but the drought of 1879 forced engineers to look for additional resources.  A proposed scheme on the Umbilo (Mbilo) River near Pinetown was chosen with a 10 million gallon storage dam, a 6 million gallon settling dam,  2 sand filters and pipes to Durban. Opened on the 21.07.1887, the scheme supplied Durban with “wholesome” water until the Great Flood of 1st June 1905 washed the dam walls away. A wall of water swept everything downstream into the sea, drowning residents living on the river banks. Many early photographs capture groups of people in Victorian dress at the beautiful Umbilo (Mbilo) waterfall. Church and family picnics were held at the “Waterworks” before and after the flood. By 16th May 1929 Huberta the Hippo had wandered from Lake St Lucia to the ruins of the Umbilo Waterworks, where she stayed before moving on to the Eastern Cape and was shot by a local farmer.  As Durban expanded the water works were moved to the Umlaas River, then Shongweni Dam on the Mhlatuzana River, followed by Nagle Dam on the Mngeni River. Currently Durban’s water comes from the very large Midmar and Inanda Dams, also on the Mngeni River. Ruins of the Umbilo Waterworks are within the Paradise Valley Nature Reserve.

Admission. R8 per adult, R  per child.

Opening times: 07h30-17h00.

Picnic areas, braai facilities, toilets, self guided walks, birding, conference centre and boma.

Indigo Vats

Two Dutch indigo planters from Java, Mr Theodorus Colenbrander and Mr von Preen went into partnership with Mr Murray of Pinetown in 1854. Locally grown indigo plants were gathered in bundles by Indonesian workers. Plants were packed into brick vats, secured by metal rods and covered with water to encourage fermentation. After being beaten with bamboo poles, water was released and the remaining dye was processed into cakes for export. The venture failed due to climate, river water and poor soil. Rediscovered in 1969 the first example of Pinetown industry caused much excitement. They were declared a National Heritage Monument in October 1984.

Situated in high security area, phone first.

Glaciated Pavements

The Glaciated Pavements at UKZN’s Westville campus is a very well-kept secret. This local treasure dates back some 300 million years. The rock formations can be seen just behind the Admin Building; enter the Admin building’s main entrance, and walk straight toward the door leading outside – turn left, walk outside, and up the stairs through the arch-way – you will see the Glacial Pavements right in front of you. Glacial Pavements are formed by rocks embedded in the slowly moving ice sheets (otherwise known as Glaciers) scoured and polished by the underlying older rocks giving rise to glacial pavements. You will notice, what appear to be scratches on the Rock Pavements. The scratches were caused by the movement of the ice and boulders, leaving clearly visible scratch-like marks on the rocks.