Verulam - A town that embraced change

2017-07-27 06:01
The welcome sign at the entrance of the Verulam was built around 1970 by a local construction company. Photo: andile sithole

The welcome sign at the entrance of the Verulam was built around 1970 by a local construction company. Photo: andile sithole

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VERULAM is a small town located between Umhlanga Rocks and Tongaat.
The town, like most South African rural centres, is beautiful.

In March this year, Verulam turned 167 years old.
According toa history book called Verulam’s Pioneers in Education, the city of Verulam was founded on March 13, 1850 by Wesleyan settlers from St Albans [England].
Under the former apartheid government some of the pioneers of Verulam left the area and settled in other areas in Durban and abroad.

The town is bisected centrally by the R102 running in a north-south direction. The Hazelmere Dam is situated within close proximity.

With Verulam being the hub of history, there are sites that are still in existence that were built by the Indian indentured labourers, British settlers and the community.

According to the records of the 1816 Indentured Labourers Foundation Verulam, around 1852 there was a sizeable, population of Wesleyans living in and around the town.
In that year, J and R Grosvenor opened a private boarding and day school on February 1, 1852.

Verulam is also known for being the hub of historical sites where the history dating back to the 1800s about the Indians’ arrival to South Africa can be traced.

The connection of Mahatma Gandhi with Verulam places the town into greater heights.
Despite that, some of the descendants of the indentured labourers still recall the history of Verulam before the British settlers migrated to other areas.

Jaisingh Singh (86) one of the descendants of indentured labourers, was born in September 15, 1930 in Verulam.
He grew up in Verulam. He told the Weekly that the connection between Verulam and Mahatma Gandhi began in 1858.

“Babu Talwantsingh [indentured labourer] was Gandhi’s right-hand man. He worked for a White man and soon prospered. He contacted Gandhi for the official opening of the Shree Gopal Lal Hindu Temple in 1913.

“He truanted from school to attend the official opening of the Shree Gopal Lal Hindu Temple by Mahatma Gandhi in May 1913. He enjoyed eating curry and rice on a banana leaf.”

Gandhi’s connection to Verulam:

According to the 1860 Indentured Labourers Foundation Verulam, in August 29, 1907 Gandhi prepared transfer documents for the Verulam Sunnie Mosque. He performed official opening of the Shree Gopal Lal Hindu Temple in Verulam in May 1913.

Gandhi delivered a farewell speech in Verulam to a crowd of more than 5000 people mostly indentured Indians in 1914.


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