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Newcastle History, South Africa

If you travel North West of Kwa-Zulu-Natal, you will come across the charming town of Newcastle. It is bordered by the river known as Ncandu. It provides the town with beautiful views of its meandering path. A number of industries call it home. The town has a long history, starting out in 1854 when it was first carved out by the surveyor-general.

The name of the town at the beginning was Port Halt Two, and it was between Johannesburg and Durban as you traveled between the two. Durban was known in those times as Port Natal. Dr. Sutherland, who was the surveyor-general at the time, had strategically placed Port Halt Two between the two cities. The town was later called The Waterfall Township because it was next to the Ncandu River.

Newcastle as we know it now was founded on that site in 1864. It was the fourth town in the area of Natal. The first three were Weenan, Durban and Pietermaritzberg. There was a duke of Newcastle after whom the city was named. He was the British Colonial Secretary in the area at that time. In 1870, there was a threat to the town from Zulus, and to ward off this threat they built a fort, named Fort Amiel.

In 1897, they built a sandstone structure that was to be the new town hall. It took two years to build the complete structure. It was made to commemorate Queen Victoria’s 60th jubilee anniversary. Thus, the new century for the fairly new town of Newcastle began.

During the two world wars, Newcastle was used as a depot to provide supplies to its troops. The first train to arrive in Newcastle was in 1891. Before that, Newcastle served as a kind of bustling hub for the transportation industry. Wagons and Post Chaises used it constantly to stop and water their horses and provide weary travelers with a place to rest.

They discovered coal deposits in Newcastle in 1891 and it turned into somewhat of a major center. Many industries developed to take advantage of the resources. This brought the area new wealth that it had not seen earlier. Newcastle was close to the border so trade was easier to transact.

The west side has some high mountains as the Drakensberg Mountains run a course through that area.

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