posted in: Mini Memories 23

Some time ago we had an interesting article by Gavin Foster called Inchanga Memories and we have just now received two responses. The article page does not allow readers to leave comments and so I thought I’d put the responses from Graham A. Thompson and Kenneth McQueen up here

Graham Thompson:

Inchanga Prep School 1941.
Courtesy G Thompson.

I have just been reading Inchanga Memories. I was a pupil at Inchanga Prep School from Jan. 1941 to Dec 1945 after which my mother brought me to England where I still live. I remember the “Bead mine” when on Sunday afternoon walks.

Other links with Inchanga are the plant nurseries along the line from the station which at that time belonged to my father’s maternal uncle Arthur Coulson ( he also built the small church where we worshipped every 3rd Sunday of the month [at a service] which was conducted by a peripatic minister).

The school property was behind the hotel (then owned by a family called Alexander whose two children were day scholars) and we could walk through the grounds on way to the small river on Saturday afternoon to play and paddle. Large enamel jugs of tea were brought mid afternoon along with bread buns. The owner of the school was a Miss G. M. Kent, the matron was Mrs Antill and a regular teacher was Miss Barbara Blackhurst, whose parents had a local farm.

There is other info I have along with a copy of 1941 school group photo, and I can remember some of the names of my age group, remembering though that they will be the same age as me (79). I hope this is of use to you.
Sincerely, Graham A. Thompson

In a second e-mail he added the following:

[I also] remember the police station at Inchanga – the two daughters of the officers were day scholars at the school, Marie Meyer and Valerie (don’t remember surname). Other family friends were named Hammond, who had a farm and also took in holiday guests.

Another thing was a big wooden cross almost opposite the road from the station and school where it joined the main road which I believe had something to with a Mission. At the school we used to put on concerts and bring and buy sales for comforts for the troops – song like ‘Blue birds over the white Cliffs of Dover’ and ‘This is the Army’.

Durban memories include two Bioscopes the Palace (The Pop) and Roxy, they had Milkbars which one walked through to the films and your admission included either a cup of tea or an icecream – [they had a] continuous show mainly of short film serials like ‘Fu Manchu’ and ‘Flash Gordon’ and old westerns with Roy Rogers or Gene Autry. I’ll dig deep into my aged memories. regards. Graham T.

Kenneth McQueen:

I read with great interest about Inchanga Boarding School as I was browsing aroung the net. I and my brother had the plesure of attending the school aroung 1950-51 when a Mrs Kent was runing the it. It was not all the good for us as our parents broke up and it was a case where our mother was unable to handle us so off to Inchanga we were posted.

I can still remember the class rooms were in a small building near the station. I have never had the pleasure of returning there and I have a brother in P.M.Burg and we send emails to each other and have noticed he has a friend there also sending emails.

It as not a good place in winter as we only had two blankets and, when possible, newspaper between the sheet and blankets as we only had fly netting in the front of the building.

By the way My name is Kenneth James McQueen and my brother is Andrew Brink MacQueen. It Is a pleasure to read the the place had a history behind it I never realised it.
Thanks for your site.
Regards, K.J.McQueen.

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23 Responses

  1. Grahame Barnett
    | Reply

    My brother Robert and I were at the school from 1941 to 1943. Robert is in the back row third from the right and I am in the front row on the extreme left. We were in South Africa for a couple of years while Rommel was getting dangerously close to our home in Port Said, Egypt.

    • Allan Jackson

      There were clearly quite a number of people who found shelter in and around Durban during WWII. We had correspondence from another, Derek Butler-Briggs, some years ago ago – see the entry for 30 May 2004. I have mailed Grahame directly to see if he will set down his memories of Durban for us.

    • David Goldhawk

      Dear Grahame

      I made a copy of Tom’s reminiscences of Kearsney, which don’t seem to be available on the web any longer.

      Please contact me at I am presently researching Kearsney’s history in preparation for the College’s centenary.

      Dave Goldhawk

  2. Grahame Barnett
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    My eldest brother Tom went to Kearsney during our stay and he wrote some memoirs of the period that are available on the web at the following link. Unfortunately I have very few memories, but I do know I was very happy at the Inchanga Prep. school.

  3. Trevor Rubelli
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    I too was privileged to attend Inchanga Preparatory Boy’s School. 1956 – 1959.
    Miss GM Kent was still the principle – I think it was actually her private school.
    If I remember correctly the school only had four classrooms (prefabs) and was down the road from the boarding establishment as described / mentioned previously
    I see from my school report 28 June 1956, I was then in Std 3. and there were only 9 of us in the class so the school must have been smaller as Miss Kent aged
    Mrs G Booth is well remembered as the English teacher apart from other subjects. She lived in a cottage on the old main road opposite the missionary cross (Catholic I think) as mention, her home being next to the site of the said burnt out Indian store which had been rebuilt by my time.
    One teacher, could have been Mrs Blackhurst – I thought it was Mrs Black, came from the dairy farm up the far hill adjacent the existing N3.
    Another teacher was Mrs van der Merwe, her husband Ben was the Sergeant at the Botha’s Hill SAP – they later started the Reptile Park – I think ‘Ben’s Den’, on the road down to Nagle Dam
    Some memorial moments that come to mind.
    They filmed scenes from film ‘Nor The Moon by Night’ – I think 1958. Although a wild life drama filmed mainly in the Kruger National Park, Inchanga Railway Station was chosen as one of the sets in the movie. Belinda Lee was the female star in the movie with Michael Craig. Can vividly remember the station name and coach logo’s being changed together with all the 1800 period clothing and props and we watched the scene/s being filmed – her arrival and departure from darkest Africa
    They used our passenger carriages with an ancient old steam engine supposedly pulling the train but in fact a ‘modern’ (sic) steam engine was pushing/pulling the lot from behind.
    The filming took a few days allowing us time to get Miss Lee’s autograph.
    We lined up and she spoke to us one by one giving out individually addressed autographed photographs of herself from a table set up outside her trailer. She was beautiful. our heroine for many years – certainly mine.
    Another occasion, was the one Guy Fawkes where our illustrious Sergeant Ben v d Merwe who had control of all our fireworks, set them all off by mistake about half an hour before everyone else gathered for the display – he was not very popular.
    Whilst at Inchanga the Alexanders – Mrs Alexander (widow of Mr, who’s family I thought had established the hotel) and son Peter ran the ‘Colorado’ Hotel, whilst Anne Alexander the daughter & sister was overseas establishing herself as a renowned arachnologist (Spiders) in South America / West Indies. Can remember being shown her collection of Tarantula’s.
    Another memory were the Sunday afternoon walks up the old old main road, lead by Miss Kent, our principle – spectacular views over the Valley of a Thousand Hills. This old road must have been the original dirt road / wagon trail to the coast.
    Also Rewards & Punishment were dished out to the few at 14h00 on schooldays outside Miss Kent’s office on back verandah in Boarding Establishment.
    Sucker on a stick (usually butterscotch) or ruler on/over palm of your hand/s.

  4. Simon Harwood
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    I was interested to read the comments about Inchanga Boys’ Preparatory School. I was there from 1948 to December 1952, then a couple of years at Kearsney before moving to England to attend a nautical college.

    I have a lot of memories of those happy days at Inchanga. At the start of term we used to board the train at Durban and tick off the names of the stations on our lists when we stopped at each. On arrival at Inchanga station our luggage was placed on an ox cart and taken by road to the schoolhouse. Meanwhile we walked up through the grounds of the Inchanga Hotel past a large ornamental frog which looked as if it must have spouted water out of its mouth at some time

    The school had no running water and no electricity or “proper” sanitary arrangements when I started there. We used hurricane lamps for light. Electricity arrived in about 1950.

    The main school building housed Miss Kent’s accommodation, two dormitories, the dining room, kitchen and bathroom. The dormitories had the quaint names of Cosy Nook (3 boys) and Pickle Patch ( about 6 boys). There were three other dormitories for the older boys; these were Macauley’s and Loram’s and Loram’s A (a small annex). The “toilets” were in a separate block.

    As I recall, we used to march down to the building where lessons were given. We had to cross the dirt road to get there. There were three classrooms – one for Classes 1, 2 and 3. The other two were for Standard 1 upwards.

    Sports were played on the fields near the classrooms or on the field adjacent to the Hotel down the hill from the main school. This field was on a slope and the boundary to the hotel was a corrugated iron fence – not so good when you were playing rugby!

    We also kept our own individual gardens to grow vegetables in.

    Trevor Rubelli remembers the Sunday afternoon walks, as I do. I also remember that we had jelly and custard as a treat after the walk.

    We were allowed 3d (pence) a week pocket money and with this you could buy 12 “Nutties” (farthing each) or a lollipop.

    I also remember the old telephone at the school. It had a separate ear piece and you had to turn a handle before you could use it. I think there were only four phones in Inchanga then. The school was “Inchanga 1” and the hotel, station and police took up the other three numbers.

    I was very interested to read Graeme Barnett’s comments. I knew his brother well and we served together in the Southampton Marine Office in the UK. He was also in the same shipping company (British India) and had sailed with both my father and brother.

    Although I am not a Facebook member, I enjoyed looking at the photos on this website

    However, the photo of the boys on the stage coach was taken in January 1952 (printed on the back of the photo which I have here with me) and I thought it commemorated something to do with the Voortrekkers. The Queen’s coronation was in June 1953. I am kneeling on the top of the coach right above Miss ?, the young teacher.

    I do have some other school photos – but I will need to find them!

    Happy memories.

    • Darryl Wylie

      I love history… and reading factual information is priceless… from the mouths of people that actually lived here in the so called good old days… Sitting down with people with a wealth of information now is so important… otherwise it will be lost forever… The history of Inchanga needs to be documented
      Darryl Wylie
      21 Sunbird Rd

  5. David Whitby
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    I am excited by the references & anecdotes that exemplify my old school . I am very surprised by the no. of responses recorded here . I have been inclined to think that I have been the one lone learner who trespassed on the playing fields & whistled through the hallways of buildings that I presumed had long since been abandoned & demolished I had good reason to think this for it must be 22 years ago that making my last trip to my company’s Head Office in Pietermaritzburg & returning to Durban to catch my flight I did a detour to Inchanga to have a one last looksee at my old school & so relive, for a moment,those very happy times that I spent there . I was very disappointed at not being able to find any trace of the house, ,buildings or grounds . With restraints on the time at my disposal I did not bother to go in search of the school buildings someway off but chose to go into the hotel ( substitute Protea for Colorado & Alexander, names by which it was once known ) . I spoke with the owner who at that time had been in this position for 13 yrs & I felt really isolated from reality when he informed me he was not aware of a school ever having existed adjacent to the hotel. Hell, could I be that stupid not to have known where I spent almost 6 gratifying years of my childhood . To save face I accepted that the school had been demolished soon after my departure but not , my memories with it. To come upon , so suddenly, this awareness of it’s continued existence is exhilarating in the extreme . To come upon others who lived those same moments as covered by their comments has been an awakening of treasured memories . Much of what I can add has been said already so I will try not to repeat it . One teacher not mentioned was a Miss Erfmann , she gave me piano lessons. Taught me well enough to play the entrance march on those mornings when we simulated a Cadet corp & the children were required to march into the school hall in orderly fashion .There was another dormitory not mentioned , Eagle Eye ( might have been a distortion of Eagle Aerie ) this was located on the upper level above the main house on a par with Macauley’s house It accommodated two . I spent my senior year here but cannot recall with whom . But , I do recall we had a lot of fun . At night, the later the better, we would , when we deemed it ‘ ripe for the pickings ‘ exit the dorm in the quest for fireflies . The more we could insert into our jar the brighter the glow . They may have been Glow worms , afterall . It was a long time ago !!! . I arrived at IPS about mid 1942 ( a bit hazy here since like Grahame Barnett we had been evacuated from Egypt as a result of Rommel’s Panzers resulting in my Mum , older sister & self , landing in Durban , October ’41. I spent a couple of terms ,at most ,at Windsor Park Junior , in Durban & thence shipped off to boarding school -a whopping 38 miles from Durban . In his comments Simon Harwood mentions the phone . In my early stages I was traumatized by it’s function . Accommodated in Cosy Nook adjoining Miss Kents quarters not far enough away from the phone as not to be tormented by it . I was an almost 8 yr oldhave shared th with no understanding of farm phones . One ,two ,three or four rings, what mattered was why did Miss Kent not pick it up?. My MUM was desperate to get hold of me , I just knew it .I cried many a night until it was explained to me . So, I believe Miss Kent can be justifiably proud of her school , staff & of herself . I am not certain that she was aware of it but in ’42 , my first full year , Head Boy & Deputy Head Boy were Doug Bradshaw & William (Billy) Kidd resp. When I arrived at Durban High School in 1948 .I witnessed the induction of these self same gentlemen to similar rank at my new school , this time reversing positions , Billy now Top Dog . It helped me to settle in a very different environment . There is little else I can add that hasn’t already been covered except to say Thank You to those scribes before me who shared this journey. Regards , David Whitby

  6. John Thompson
    | Reply

    I too, am thrilled that there have been some responses to the Facebook page I put up after making contact with a few Old Boys through an article in the local Hillcrest magazine. We had a reunion lunch and I posted pictures up on the FB page. I enjoy the anecdotes of you guys and have one of my own – who remembers having a “twee”? You teamed up with another boy who liked food items that you didn’t and vice versa. We had to stay in the dining hall until our plates were clean and this was a subtle way of achieving that. You were “twees”! If anyone has pictures or letters home or anything else for other Old Boys enjoyment, scan them and let me have them for the page. Use

  7. Dave Alexander
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    It’s amazing to see so many responses on this old school and even a Facebook page! I am a 3rd generation Alexander, in that my grandparents bought the then Colorado hotel around 1936. Peter, referred to earlier by Mr Rubelli, was my father and Anne my aunt. My parents ended up owning the land where the dormitories and Mrs Kent’s residence were located. The land was sold in 2006 to the Dawsons who did an incredible job restoring the old buildings into a residence. As a kid in the 1980’s I used to spend many hours burrowing under the floorboards finding lost marbles, coins and carvings of Spitfires, indicative of the period. Unfortunately some of the wood and iron buildings had to be demolished as we could not afford to maintain them.

  8. John Thompson
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    When we had our (all too small in number!) reunion lunch we went back to look at the boarding establishment which is now a residence. We hunted for the class rooms but you have solved the mystery. A teacher when I was there was Miss Anne McGregor – did she marry in to your family?

    • Dave Alexander

      John – no, Anne McGregor is no relation and does not ring any bells.

  9. Rodney Coyne
    | Reply

    ‘The Witness’ (formerly ‘The Natal Witness’) is the local newspaper for Pietermaritzburg and the surrounding midlands of the province. Today they had a special edition to commemorate their 170th anniversary. What may be of relevance to FAD is an article on former editors of the newspaper. The following is an extract from this article :

    G.H.Calpin arrived in South Africa in the thirties to take up the principalship of the Quaker school at Inchanga, becoming editor of The Witness in 1935.

    Even today Inchanga is a very small village so it is unlikely to have had two schools. I don’t think that the Quaker connection with this school has been mentioned before. Does anyone know if it was still a Quaker school at the time of this photo?

    • Morne

      According to Guy Butler’s autobiography Karoo Morning the school closed in 1934 after only a year, or maybe even less. He went there since his dad’s family were Quakers.

  10. John Thompson
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    Hi Rodney, I am fairly sure that Miss Kent was not a Quaker as we, as pupils, were taken to a small local wood and iron church once a month for a service conducted by a “circuit” minister. I think it was Methodist. There were never any bible study classes or prayer times at the school other than saying Grace before meals. Perhaps Miss Kent took over the Quaker school for her own account at some point.

  11. graham barnes
    | Reply

    wow.nice to hear about inchanga.i was at the boarding school in th early sixties.have vague memories of miss kent and her old car.walks to the dam.i recolect miss kent taking my two front false teeth away because i scared the other boys .

  12. Liz O'Reilly
    | Reply

    Good day, does anyone remember Peter Barnes who owned the Colorado Hotel in the 70’s. He had a sister Moira and a younger sister Elsie June, known as June. From what I understand he also had a daughter named Anne and at one stage were living in Kloof.

    • Catherine van Heeswijk

      Hi Liz O’Reilly
      My mother Celia married Peter Barnse after his wife Jackkee passed on. Moira is deceased she was living in Musgrave area..Peter’s daughter Sue lives in mom Celia has recently passed too..
      Hope this helps you..
      If I can help with anything please let me contact number is 0723981042

  13. John Thompson
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    A Graham Barnes posted on this site and he was a pupil so I wonder if he is not related?

  14. Liz O'Reilly
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    Thank you for your reply. I don’t think he is. June had a brother Peter and a sister Moira. She didn’t mention Graham in any of our conversations. June unfortunately passed away on Tuesday, she would have been 91 at the end of June. She said she had a niece Anne, whom she saw when Anne was about 8 yrs old.

  15. Pam Mulder
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    Dave Alexander please can you contact me. My family used to holiday every July and Christmas at the farm. I loved riding Duke. Is your brother Brett? Have many wonderful memories at Colorado.

  16. Charmaine Ruddin
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    Hi all. My dad went to that boarding school. Not sure of the years but from about 1940 I think. His name is Roy Ronald Knott. Has Alzheimer’s so can’t really remember. I do have a photograph. Mrs Kent was incharge or Headmistress.

  17. John Thompson
    | Reply

    Hi Charmaine – a little before my time as I was there in the early 50’s but If you are able to scan that photograph and send it to me I will upload it to the page. Yes, Miss Kent was in fact, the owner of the school as well as head mistress and one of the 3 teachers! 3 class rooms held classes from class 1 to standard 6! Sorry to hear about Roy’s Alzheimer’s and if he can comprehend please tell him a Inchanga Old Boy is thinking of him and wishing him peace.

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