Heritage centre ready to open doors

2018-02-08 06:01
The artist’s impression of what the Verulam Heritage Centre will look like.PHOTO: SUPPLIED

The artist’s impression of what the Verulam Heritage Centre will look like.PHOTO: SUPPLIED

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THE new Verulam Heritage Centre is ready to open its doors to the community. The centre, located in Groom Street, a few metres away from the Verulam Magistrate’s Court, will replace the Verulam Library and Lecture Institute that was built by the Wesleyan settlers in 1887. The aim of having a centre of this kind is to promote culture, tourism and heritage for the Verulam residents and visitors.

The Verulam Historical Society, with the help of eThekwini Municipality, is inviting all residents to record their history in Verulam.

Spokesperson for the Verulam Historical Society, Mano Murugan, said the centre will be a community-based learning, research and heritage site.

Artifacts, photos and history about Verulam and surrounding areas will be displayed at the centre.

“This is not going to be like a library where books are stored,” Murugan said.

Murugan said the idea to establish the library was first mooted by William Josiah Irons in November 1849.

“The foundation stone of the new building to house the library and lecture room was laid on December 2, 1857. The building to be known as the Verulam Library and Lecture Institute was officially opened early in March 1858,” Murugan said. Scores of people, including academics, pupils and students, are expected to flock to this new centre once it’s opened. The centre will display the history of Verulam from 1850 when the Wesleyans first arrived led by Thomas Champion, the 1860 indentured labourers, African history and cultures. The official opening of the centre has not been confirmed.

However, Murugan confirmed that all the ducks are in a row for the official opening. “We are waiting for eThekwini Municipality to hand it [centre] over to us. Everything is done and we look forward to having a new heritage centre in Verulam,” Murugan said.

Verulam resident Mbongeni Mthiyane said when the first Wesleyan settlers arrived in Verulam, African people were living outside the “city of Verulam”.

“We are pleased to have a centre to promote culture and tourism in Verulam. I am humbled to hear that everybody is going to be represented in this heritage site. I would like to encourage senior residents to come out and support this initiative. We have a rich history under the chieftaincy of the Ngcobo clan. Therefore it is vital to keep records of our history and culture.”

Ward councillor Johnson Chetty applauded the initiative and thanked the Verulam Historical Society for being the champions of the project.

Chetty said senior officials of the society spearheaded the project in order to give the old-fashioned town of Verulam a new look. “The dedicated team of this centre have taken it upon themselves to source information and memorabilia from the general public. This invaluable resource is archived for future generations. “When you enter the centre, one is confronted by pictures of our forefathers as well as implements and artifacts. “I am pleased that the municipality has developed a building to house permanently the facility. It’s also heartwarming that this institution will be manned by professional staff and open to the public daily.

“I pay my respects to the volunteers who have and still serve the public,” Chetty said. In the interim, the centre opens every Wednesday and Saturday and it is expected to be accessible every day once it officially opened. Construction work commenced early last year and was completed late last year.

For more information on the Verulam Heritage Centre, members of the public can contact Mano Murugan at 082 532 2734.

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