A brief history
Newcastle’s origins date back to the 1840’s, when it was known as Post Halt Number 2. Postal coaches stopped here to obtain fresh horses on the journey between Durban and Johannesburg. In 1864, Newcastle was officially founded and became the fourth settlement to be established in Natal after Durban, Weenen and Pietermaritzburg.
Today Newcastle is the third-largest city in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. Throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s the growth was steady but slow. In May 1969 the government announced that the third Iscor Works would be established in Newcastle and as a direct result of Iscor, Newcastle developed rapidly as an industrial town and prominent growth point in Northern Natal.
Later Karbochem established a plant in Newcastle. Today, in addition to the Zulu, Afrikaner, and English speaking communities, Newcastle has a large Chinese population that includes people from Taiwan (Republic of China), and Hong Kong.
Carnegie Art Gallery
The Carnegie Art Gallery is a public Art Museum situated in the Central Business District. Its collection includes contemporary paintings, sculptures, ceramics, fibre art, beadwork, weaving and wooden carvings by critically acclaimed and recognised South African artists. A unique and valuable collection of African Art & Zulu material cultural objects has also been accumulated. The building is a declared national monument and was built in 1915 as a library with funds from the Carniegie Corporation. It is in the classic Edwardian/Georgian architectural style and all the original features have been retained.
Fort Amiel was opened as the Cultural History Museum of Newcastle in 1990 at the restored British military base built in 1876 by the 80th Regiment or Staffordshire Regiment. It forms part of the Northern KZN Battlefields route as it served during the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879 and Anglo-Boer Wars of 1881 and 1899-1902. It consists of a collection of buildings including a Guard house, Cook House, Blacksmiths Workshop, Canteen, offices, Magazine and Shell Store. A traditional Zulu homestead, muthi garden and the Prince Imperial herbal Garden concludes the historical displays. Besides military paraphernalia the displays focus on the general Newcastle history including all diverse cultures.
Tel: 034 3287621 or 0722381983 (Curator: Louis Eksteen)
Hindu Shiva Temple
The Hindu Shiva Temple was built in 1903, the temple is reputed to have the largest cella dome of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. It is claimed that in 1913, Mahatma Gandhi prayed here while leading the march from Newcastle to the Transvaal.
Newcastle commenced building their Town Hall in 1897 in honour of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubliee. Once building was completed in 1899, the town’s people started a collection for a clock to be added to the building. The Town Hall has been part of many historical events including the second Boer War where it was used to store furniture that was pillaged during this time.
Bothaspas Kontrei Winkel
Bothaspas Kontrei Winkel is a quaint little country stall housed in the original Botha’s Pass store built in 1906. Find the Kontrei Winkel at the foot of the Botha’s Pass, stop off for refreshments, home- made jams and confectioneries, all prepared in the traditional way, nuts, dried fruit and biltong and a variety of baskets, mats, handicrafts and collectibles of all descriptions.
Ncandu State Forest
Ncandu State Forest is a nature reserve and boasts the second biggest indigenous forest in KwaZulu Natal, it is filled with grassy plains and yellowwood gorges. This spot is great for pic-nics and swimming in the icy Ncandu River is exhilarating.
Newcastle made the decision to build an Armoury during the 1870’s when there was a threat of war against Zululand. The Armoury was built and provided a home for local volunteers and those in service. Winston Churchill himself spent the night at Newcastle Armoury as a prisoner of the Boer forces in 1899. This fascinating building is filled with history and is open to the public to view the military memorabilia. If these walls could talk they could tell many an exciting tale about the goings on behind and surrounding this historical building.
Established in 1975, Ntshingwayo Dam (previously Chelmsford Dam) is the third largest in the province. Located approximately 25 km (16 mi) South West of Newcastle on the Ngagane River, Ntshingwayo Dam is Newcastle’s main source of water supply. The surrounding reserve covers an area of 6 500 ha. and is managed by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.
Sailing, power boating, water-skiing and swimming are all popular past times on the 3 400 ha. dam. The dam is renowned as a fishing destination, both hobby and competition, with carp, barbel and scaly the most popular being caught.