Graham Read in a post mentioned the name William Hartley School in Hopelands Road Overport. Hopelands Road is at the crest of the Overport Ridge and runs behind the ridge past the back of Parklands Hospital. I have come across the name William Hartley quite often in the books I have read about Durban that I thought a summary of some his endeavours would be interesting. There is no doubt that William Hartley was a go getter and in today’s parlance he would surely have been called an entrepreneur.
Direct quotes from the various books I used as reference are in inverted commas.
William Harvey and his wife Isabella emigrated to Natal as Byrne Settlers aboard the Sovereign which sailed from Plymouth on 24 November 1849 and arrived off the Bluff on 24 March 1850, a trip of 120 days.
” William Hartley, a true Victorian individualist, emigrated at the age of 21 after reading James E. Methley’s book , ” The New Colony of Port Natal”. He married his sweetheart, Isabella a fortnight before sailing. His parents gave him a parting gift of one hundred pounds in sovereigns which Isabella quilted into her corsets. From this safe deposit, they cut out a sovereign at a time as the need arose. It was Hartley who made a fortune from the wreck of the Ariosto when her cargo of black pepper was strewn along the Durban beaches.”
The Sovereign, a barque, arrived with 230 emigrants.
William Hartley in terms of the Byrne Emigration scheme was allocated land in the extent of 90 acres. I do not have information where the land was situated but it would appear that Hartley abandoned his allocation (perhaps sold it) and decided to make his living in the dusty streets of the fledgling town of D’Urban.
” At dawn on the 31 July 1854, someone discovered that a large ship, with her sails loose, looking as it were over the Back Beach Bush about the end of Smith Street. (The Back Beach then was what we today call North and South Beach. It was at the back of the beaches which were then within the Bay.)
All Durban rushed to the scene to find it was a fine American vessel named Ariosto 361 tons , from Sumatra to Boston with a cargo of pepper. There was no sea on, and everything was right except the Master’s computation, which led him to believe he was some miles outside the Bluff, so his ship calmly continued on her course until the watch on the deck heard the breakers on shore ; they edged her off a little but too late. She struck, bumped over the outer sandbank and was carried on to the beach. The crew 17 in all landed in their own boat. The vessel became a wreck and William Hartley an immigrant from Britain bought the washed up cargo of pepper as a job lot. After drying it, he made a considerable profit from its re-sale overseas”.
“Hence it was only at the end of June 1854, that Ward meetings were held in town (D’Urban) to consider the position and to nominate fit and proper persons as representatives. Ultimately the following were nominated for election as Councillors: Ward 1: GC Cato, A McArthur, J Blackwood
Ward 2 : J Millar, GH Wirsing, J Brickhill W Smerdon Ward 3: R Harwin, AW Evans Ward 4 : WH Savory, R Raw, C Johnston, F Harvey , Edward Snell and William Hartley.
At the close of the poll, the Resident Magistrate threw up his office window and declared the following to have been duly elected as the first Town Councillors for the Borough of D’Urban:
Ward 1 : George Christopher Cato and James Blackwood
Ward 2: John Millar and George Henry Wirsing
Ward 3: Alfred Winter Evans and Richard Harwin
Ward 4: Charles Johnston and Robert Raw.
On 5th August 1854, the newly elected Council chose George Christopher Cato as the first Mayor of D’Urban.”
Wiliiam Hartley had failed to get a Council seat but one can see that he had his fingers in many pies.
“At the end of the next municipal year (July 1859) a local newspaper reported ” … The dignity of Town Councillor has this year literally gone a-begging and it was not till very late Saturday night (July 23rd) that the number was made up. A number of our respectable fellow townsmen positively declined the honour and some of those who ultimately accepted did so only to save the Borough from non representation” . GC Cato was again one of the representatives for Ward 1. The new Council met on Saturday August 6th 1859 for the election of the new Mayor. Voting by ballot was agreed to on the motion of Cato and resulted in William Hartley being elected. It was under his able guidance that the affairs of the Borough were brought into order once more”.
So next time round William Hartley was chosen as second Mayor of Durban. Hartley then turned to sugar.
“Few of the residents of the Overport area know that the greater part of that portion of the Berea was originally an estate called West Hill before the name Overport became commonly used. William Hartley, merchant of Durban, purchased the original land in 1859 from Joseph Cato brother of George Cato. The property was bounded by Ridge Road and the valley at the back and extended from Springfield Road to the old St. Thomas Church. Hartley built Overport House on this 450 acre estate in 1865 and made it over for the use of the current governor of Natal from 1872 to 1894. The structure had a very large roof area designed to catch as much rain water as possible”.
” Hartley was the senior partner in the partnership , Hartley and Handley in West Street. The firm dispensed Edmund Morewood’s molasses in 1852.”
” West Hill Estate was first planted to coffee but this was replaced by sugar in 1872. Hartley’s Mill started crushing in 1874. At the end of 1880, Hartley’s Overport Sugar and Coffee Estate was up for sale by auction. The reason for selling the mill was a shortage of water. Part of the old mill building known today (1964) as Grayson House still stands as a residence alongside South Road, between Hartley Road and Ridge Road. ”
I stand to be corrected but I seem to recall that Overport House was eventually converted into a school and to this day 33 Hopelands Road has always been a school site.
From the 1938 Directory: Overport School: 33 Hopeland Road Principal Mr W. A. Blake. Enrolment 252 pupils.
From the 1968 Directory: Overport School (Primary) 33 Hopelands Road Principal : Mr L.G.S. Merret B.A.