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Killie Campbell

Killie Campbell

Marshall Campbell was only two years old when he first arrived in Durban with his parents, William John and Agnes Campbell. They had sailed from Glasgow, Scotland on the “Conquering Hero”, which, after a voyage of 90 days, dropped anchor off Durban on the 28th June 1850. The Campbells were settlers under the Byrne emigration scheme, whereby between 1849 and 1851 some 2 500 people, mainly from England and surrounds, came to Natal.

At this time Durban consisted of a few scattered dwellings, mostly of wattle and daub. According to Angas in The Kaffirs Illustrated (1849), it was ‘ no unusual occurrence to meet the recent traces of elephants, or to catch a glimpse of the leopard’s spotted hide ‘. Durban had been first settled in 1824 and was officially named in 1835 after the then governor of the Cape Colony, Sir Benjamin D’Urban. When the settlement was proclaimed a borough in 1854, the population totalled 1 204.

Soon after the arrival of the family in Durban, Marshall’s father obtained a contract to build the North Pier. Then he bought land north of the town, on the Umhloti River, and called his farm ‘ Muckle Neuk ‘ meaning ‘great bend’. At the time of his death in 1865, aged 44, he had established himself as a leading sugar cane planter and miller. Marshall too became involved in producing sugar and eventually, in 1895, floated  Natal Estates Limited, which two years later established South Africa’s first refinery. This company went on to play a leading role in the Natal sugar industry.

Marshall married Ellen Blamey in 1877 and they settled at Mount Edgecombe, where they raised their four children. As a leading businessman, Marshall was drawn into public life and became a member of the Natal Legislative Council. Later he was appointed Senator for Natal and in 1915 he was knighted for his services to the country. He served on various commissions and was a tribal councillor of the Amaqadi people.

A large township on the northern outskirts of Durban is named after Marshall Campbell. It is called Kwa Mashu, meaning in the Zulu tongue, ‘the place of Marshall’. An interesting aside is that he was involved in 1892 with the introduction of the rickshaw, which has subsequently become one of Durban’s most distinctive tourist attractions.

Marshall Campbell’s elder daughter, Margaret Roach, or Killie as she preferred to be called, was born in 1881 at Mount Edgecombe. She was educated at St. Anne’s Diocesan College, Hilton, Natal, and in Scotland at St. Leonard’s School.

One of Killie’s earliest interests was horticulture and her talent is displayed in the garden at Muckleneuk, where she grew many indigenous as well as imported plants. Here, too, were hybridised various bougainvillaea, including the well known dusky pink ‘Natalia’ and the ‘Killie Campbell’, with its rust-red and magenta bracts.

Although Killie acquired many unique and unusual items, her library was essentially a working collection which, together with her own extensive knowledge, she freely made available to others. She compiled bibliographies and indexes, encouraged old Natal settlers to record their reminiscences and genealogies, and preserved rare items such as old family diaries by painstakingly copying them, thus saving records which might otherwise have been irretrievably lost.

Killie’s interest in history and Africana was not confined to her own collection. She was the first woman member of the Historical Monuments Commission and she served on the committee of the Natal Branch of the South African Society for the Preservation of Objects of Historical and Natural Interest. She was also a trustee of the Old House Museum, Durban, which owes its existence largely to Killie, who for more than twenty years campaigned and collected Natal settler relics for it.

Her valuable work of collecting and preserving historical and cultural items for posterity was recognised in a number of ways. She received honorary degrees from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in 1950 and from the University of the Witwatersrand in 1954, and she was awarded honorary fellowship of the South African Library Association in 1958. and Durban Civic honours in 1964. A special memorial to perpetuate her name and work and to further her aims and endeavours has been established by the South African National Society (Natal Branch) in the form of the Killie Campbell Bursary Trust.

This remarkable and unassuming woman died in 1965, aged 84, and her ashes were scattered beneath an Umkhuhlu tree in the garden of Muckleneuk.

The William Campbell Furniture and Picture Collection

Muckleneuk is still furnished much as it was when the Campbell family lived here.  The furniture on display was brought to Natal by the early settlers and also includes a notable collection of pieces made in the Cape.

Many items of furniture in the museum are of interest because of their former owners. One such piece , a chair, belonged to the American missionary Daniel Lindley (1801 – 1880) who was the first ordained minister among the Voortrekkers in Natal. He founded the Inanda Seminary for Zulu girls, which has deposited his bible in the museum on permanent loan. The bible is kept in another notable item of furniture – a handsome eighteenth century ebony and yellowwood Cape bible desk with ivory and ebony star inlay.

An English mahogany desk belonged to George Christopher Cato (1814-1893), the first mayor and first American Consular agent of Durban. Other items belonging to Cato are his will, a portable writing desk and a silver tea service.

You can see a stool carved by Dinuzulu, a  Zulu king, whilst he was detained on the island of St. Helena. Using a small knife, this unique artefact was carved from a single block of wood.

Other interesting items include a teak dressing table mirror used by Mary Livingstone (1821-62), wife of the missionary David Livingstone (1813-73); an Italian suit of armour; a bottle of Constantia wine, dated 1791; and an Edison phonograph player.

The picture collection which forms part of the William Campbell Furniture Museum is extensive and representative of many media, artists and subjects. One of the foremost nineteenth century topologists in South Africa was Thomas William Bowler (1812-69). His watercolour of Durban’s Bay and Bluff is one of his relatively few Natal works. Amongst the rare engravings held here are four views of Cape Town and Simonstown, engraved by Tringham after Schumacher, which J.H. Schneider (fl. 1763-78), an Amsterdam bookseller, was responsible for publishing.

In this library are many works of extreme rarity and value. Amongst these is theProceedings….at the Cape of Good Hope, in a criminal process for libel…against Laurence Halloran, published in 1811. Halloran was eventually banished from the Cape. Then, a few years later, consternation arose there about the marriages he had solemnised when it was discovered that his ordination papers had been false. Another rare item is Volume 1 of The Cape cyclopedia (1835), a religious publication which included a short account of George Schmidt (1709-1785), the first Moravian missionary in South Africa who worked amongst the Khoikhoi.

The Zulu War of 1879 is well represented, not only by relics from the battlefield of Isandhlwana and the regimental colour of the Edendale Native Horse, but also by such books as The Zulu War, 1879, reprinted from the ‘University of KwaZulu Natal Mercury'(1879) and the rare The Zulu Army, and Zulu headmen (1879).

The library is rich in illustrative material for, besides the extensive graphic collection, there are many photographs dealing with Natal and Zululand. Digital images of the Historic Photograph Collection and other resources can be browsed on-line. The map collection, although small, includes some valuable items, among them a large hand drawn map by Thomas Baines.

Many journals and manuscripts are also retained.

Africabib, a bibliographic database of African studies journals is maintained by  the IEA Research Library at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, in the United States.

One of the largest and most important manuscript collection in the Killie Campbell Africana Library is that relating to John William Colenso (1814-1883) and his determined and able family. Colenso, who was a controversial Bishop of the Church of England in Natal, not only had a talent for mathematics, but was a noted biblical scholar and an outstanding figure in Zulu linguistic and literary work. He was a prolific writer and among his many works in the Library is a rare item commenting on Frere’s policy. It is a massive tome with marginal notes in the Bishop’s own handwriting.

A Guide to the Manuscripts Collection is available.

When Killie Campbell died, her library passed to the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The Library is involved in a number of projects, both retrospective and topical. These include the tracing of historical material in private ownership and the making of photographic records relating to the history of Kwa-Zulu Natal more readily accessible.  Land grant claims are supported by primary resources on the history of the Cato Manor area. Further information is available from the Cato Manor Development Project.

Housed presently at the Library is the DISA Project, the National Digital Imaging Project of South Africa, through which the journals of many organisations involved in the apartheid struggle are being converted to a digital format for research access via the Internet.

To consult the Killie Campbell Africana Library Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC), URICA, login as “lib1” and Enter. Please note  that the previous login “lib” will now grant you access to the University of KwaZulu-Natal Library OPAC.

Please contact the Reading Room for research queries on the Library collections.

Related Collections

*African Research Central: http://www.africa-research.org/mainframe.html

*Cory Library for Historical Research:http://www.ru.ac.za/library/cory/

*Digital Librarian. Africana :Resources on Africahttp://www.digital-librarian.com/africana.html

*University of Idaho Library:http://www.uidaho.edu/special-collections/africa.html

*Stanford University Libraries:http://garamond.stanford.edu/depts/ssrg/africa/libaf.html


Killie Campbell

Campbell Archive Photos



Village of Verulam

Killie Campbell in her Library at Muckleneuk



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