Kendrew’s Forgotten Past

Kendrew, settlers

By Andrew McNaughton and Julienne du Toit

Roughly south of Graaff-Reinet is a little railway siding called Kendrew.

Drive through the area today and you’ll see little sign of life. But in 1926, nearly 150 people lived here, most of them with absolutely nothing to do but look forward to a monster drinking binge.

When the train passed through they’d invade the dining car, downing double and triple brandies and whiskeys, and if they still hadn’t drunk enough, they’d often delay departure by sneakily uncoupling the last carriage.

They were mostly newly-arrived British citizens and the reason they had nothing to do is because they had been duped by one of the most cynical pieces of false advertising this country has ever seen.

Behind it all was an American insurance mogul Isadore William Schlesinger.

He had persuaded the Government to allow him to sell an irrigation scheme south of the proposed Van Ryneveld Dam (now Nqweba Dam).

The railway through Kendrew hasn't seen a train for decades now.
The railway through Kendrew hasn’t seen a train for decades now.

Kendrew was theoretically all set to become a thriving little town attached to citrus orchards. There was going to be a movie house, bacon and cheese factories, a lucerne mill, a fruit drying plant, and a sports centre.

Schlesinger advertised a scheme in a brochure to British citizens, using pictures of Graaff-Reinet’s feather palace Avondrust (with the caption “A Typical Residence”). There were also pictures of vineyards, lovely gardens and livestock on lush pastures, all taken on farms elsewhere that had taken many years to establish.

The Britons, many of them investing their war veterans’ remittances, were assured that the 30 acres plus an additional 200 for grazing would be more than adequate for a thriving Karoo farm.

They were also told that even in a severe drought, imported sheep kept their condition, “where native springboks have succumbed”, and that the climate was so healthy that “vets have tried in vain to earn a living here”.

But no farming could happen before the just-built dam north of Graaff-Reinet filled up. So these newcomers to Karoo life slept in a temporary hotel, spent their days in the Club, and invaded the passing trains for more alcohol as a diversion from boredom.

Eventually the dam filled up, the canals brought water and the newcomers set about creating farms. At its height, Kendrew had a bioscope (that doubled as a church on Sundays), a Sports Club, tennis courts and even a golf course.

The New Years’ parties at the Club were legendary.

Camdeboo mountains in the distance.

But the Karoo’s climate and a string of bad luck prevailed. The Great Depression combined with one of the worst droughts in 90 years. A noxious weed called Satansbos was accidentally imported with pig feed from South America, spread rapidly and affected grazing. Some say that 60 000 sheep perished in the Kendrew area.

The area was eventually abandoned, and the orchards died. Only the Satansbos, a few bluegums and ruins were left to tell the story.

And Schlesinger? He thrived. He went on to become the major player in cinemas and theatres in South Africa and was eventually chairman of more than eighty companies involved in various concerns – from hotels to canning to diamond cutting and newspapers.

  • Popular Graaff-Reinet historian Andrew McNaughton wrote a far more detailed version of this story for his newsletter Karoo Connections, December 2007.

70 thoughts on “Kendrew’s Forgotten Past

  1. Andrew Wallis says:

    The stomping ground of my youth, used to cycle to Kendrew from our farm 12 kays away to buy sweets even went by go kart towed behind a donkey cart once but that took so long that my dad came to tow me back by motorbike.
    Many days spent there on bank of Sundays river “fishing” and the club’s Xmas parties were legendary also loading wool on to the train to be transported to PE, fetching drought emergency feed….those were the days.

  2. Brendon Willows says:

    I remember fetching our sheep shearers from Kendrew. By then just the telephone exchange and one general store remained. My father always had a story about the various ruins where he had spent time in his youth in the then thriving village.I remember the fishing trips Mr Wallis, good times.

    • Davine+Sansom says:

      Hi did anyone know my Mother? Veronica van Vuuren. She had one sister and a few brothers. Her Father was Boet van Vuuren and her Mother Marie van Vuuren. Boet van Vuuren was Frans van Vuuren’ s son. Anyone? Thank you

    • Maryna Cave (Smith) says:

      I am looking for my great grandfather’s grave which apparently is on the farm Herbouw in the Kendrew district. His name was Gideon Francois Johannes Jurgen Smith. Can you perhaps assist me?

  3. Anita says:

    Do you have any information and photographs about the train that stopped in 1947 when the Royals visited South Africa?

    • Dave Glenister says:

      Anita … There are some coaches of that train in the Transnet Museum in George – worth a visit. I also have a pic. of the Royal family alighting from the train at Bethesda Road, north of G-R. Would like to know why you are interested. Regards … Dave

    • Jackie Gant nee Charles says:

      The main farm Kendrew Estates now owned by Garth Charles may have more to add to the history of Kendrew PLUS pics of when Queen Elizabeth II turned 21.

      Our grandfather H I Charles owned Kendrew Estates, Hotel Charles in Klipplaat etc.

      On a side note the founder of the Bantu Church of Christ came from Kendrew. The Church spent R1 million on erecting a bust in his honour.

      Please would you consider including the full spectrum of Kendrew’s history? What The Wallaces and Brandon Willows may recall was the legendary Christmas parties hosted at the golf club.

      Long John Silver came down the Sundays river with treasure. All the kids from far and wide came to this Xmas party. We would hop onto a 5 ton truck and be taken down to the Sundays River to await the arrival of Long John Silver.

      Guy Fawkes was also a magnificent experience at the Kendrew Golf Club.

    • Stephen Mullineux says:

      I am in possession of the actual Union Jack which was to be used to welcome the Royal Party at Kendrew Station in 1947. It was given to me by local resident (Cradock) Penny Murray (nee Rubidge), whose late husband Peter also came from Kendrew. Penny, as a young school girl, had been selected to hold the Union Jack as part of the welcome. The crowd all stood in anticipation on the station, but after a while the message came through that the train was running late. As it was a schoolday it was decided that she should rather return to her classes than wait an unspecified time. So the flag which I have, which has become rather tatty over the years, was never used. It was given to Penny to keep. I am quite sure that Penny has many other stories of that day at Kendrew Station!

    • Stephen Mullineux says:

      Another story which Penny told me was that her job that day was to walk up to the Queen and present her with a bunch of flowers. So she was given the flowers and the flag as part of her task. Not knowing that she should curtsey when handing over the flowers, she decided that a bow would be okay. So she was all geared up to bow and hand over the posy. As she was taken off to school the flowers were taken from her, and handed to someone else to do the handover. Penny was rather amused when some time later the replacement flower-giver got a Royal letter from the Lady in Waiting thanking her for “Penny’s” flowers!

  4. Etienne"Kudu" says:

    Hi. I grew up in Kendrew and went to school at Hoer Volkskool. I left 1995. My grandfather Boet van Vuuren had the local shop called Karoo Winkel which my mother Estelle took over later.

    I have a lot of memories and miss the Karoo and farming and hunting so much. I would do anything to just have a small labourer’s cottage in the area and look after a farm.

    I remember Oom Brian Charles and his son Garth. The Hobsons and Tiffany who were in the army. Oom Jock and Tannie Eva and my favourite farm Doorskraal belonged to Oom Billy Monks. There was Tannie Kate with all her cats at Kendrew. There are so much ghost stories to tell.

    Kendrew even had the most beautiful little church. We used too shoot bos duiwe there. We caught fish at Oom Brian’s weir at Kendrew Estate. Barber and Karp. The train did came past which we got on sometimes till 198o something. I remember Oom Torr I think at Koningsrus.

    He was murdered I believe. At Kendrew we played rugby over weekends as a youngster with local farm workers. Oh, and there was no grass played on gravel. Eina…. I have a lot of photos still.

    I am only 39 today but without Kendrew my life is meaningless. We had a post office with 2 pay phones even. The golf course greens were not grass but some sort of gravel.

    Not far from Kendrew and the farm Willows is a farm called Wheatlands were Oom Arthur Short used to live which has the most beautiful cricket field. I remember their house, wow it was like royalty.

    The mountain in your article looks more like Tandjiesberg to me which lies Pearston direction. I might be wrong? Rooiberg, Brandkraal, Doorskraal, Klein Duikerdoorns, Herbou, Stapleford, Charwood, Bloukrans are all farms I loved. Even kendrew estate.

    I once saw the most beautiful girl on a farm when I took groceries for pocket money…. I think she was Reinette Murray or I can’t remember. They had horses on their farm. There was a farm called Tandjies view also.

    Regards Etienne

    • Julienne du Toit says:

      Thanks for these lovely memories, Etienne. On the subject of Wheatlands, have a look at the latest Country Life magazine (November 2015). There’s an article on that stunning farm with its feather palace guesthouse – and a picture of Arthur and Di Short. Going strong!

      • Kevin Clark says:

        Hi All, greetings from New Zealand. (Left SA in 1963). Have been researching my family history—and some of it goes back to Kendrew. I was born and schooled in Uitenhage, and as a kid -from about 8 to 14? –in the late 40s early 50s, –had regular farm holidays at Kendrew with the Cawood family—relatives of ours. I have vivid memories of life on the farmstead just out of “town”—New Years Eve shindigs in the country club, and playing golf on that weird course, tee’d off a concrete pad using a short piece of hose as a tee, and at the putting “green” –all sand, having long wooden screeds for smoothing a path from the ball to the hole!!!

        I took my Kiwi wife on a pilgrimage to SA in 1980, had trouble finding Kendrew, and eventually the Cawood house–now just ruins. The outlines of the succulent gardens were still visible. Gut wrenching. The old house had a wind charger on the roof with a bank of car batteries inside, the obligatory windpump, a coolbox contraption outside under the trees made of chicken mesh walls filled with gravel, and a galvanised iron drip tray on the roof fed by a pump so the water continually dripped through the gravel, evaporation keeping the on-site hand-churned butter and other stuff cool.

        Clem and Chloris Cawood had two daughters, Jean and Jocelyn. Jocelyn married a Henry McNaughton and I notice there are McNaughtons involved with this website. Have tried to make contact but to no avail.

        Sixty years on I still have scars on my hands after being attacked by a wildcat on the veld near the homestead. I thought it was a domestic cat but it went for me–must have had kittens in it’s lair.

        Any other memories of Kendrew to share??

        • Jean Galloway says:

          Hi Kevin
          I read with interest your description of the golf course at Kendrew in the late 40’s and early 50’s. My grandfather, Charles (Charlie) Galloway lived at the Kendrew Golf Club during this time. We still have several of the ‘Kendrew Golf Club Championship’ trophies that he won between 1937-1949. My son, his great-grandson, also plays golf and living in inland Western Australia has only ever played ‘sand greens’ with scrapers and cement T-boxes – not sure he would know how to play a traditional grass course!

    • Jade says:

      Hi Ettienne,

      Would you mind providing some information with regards to the location of the little church you mentioned? Do you know if its a ruin now?



      • Eginia Tracco says:

        Hi Jade

        The little church is now in ruins. It was situated just after the turn of to marais-Siding just before you crossed the railway line going into Kendrew. The first house on your right belonged to Oom De beer. the house on your left just across the mud furrow was occupied by Oom Serfontein. Further down the road just after Oom De beers house was the hotel which later became a short of room letting place. just after that was the shop of Oom Serfontein then the cross road which leads back to Graaff-Reinet and to the Country Club. Just next to the road was the house of my grabdfather Oom Roelof van Vuuren. Adjacent to tht was the butchery and the shop which also belonged to him. Further down the road towards the Country Club was a house which belonged to the de beer family, then the Post Office and telephoneexchange. Mrs serfontein worked their for many years.was the shop of Oom Boet van Vuuren (which was the son of Oom roelof van Vuuren). Turning to the left was going towards the Country club and to the right was towards the railway station. Their were two house before you got to the station. One was occupied by Oom Du Press and the other I really am not sure. The station master was Oom Crouse. We caight the train onto school evry Monday and backto kendrew every friday to visit my Grandfather.

        • Ewald Serfontein says:

          The shop after the hotel, first belonged to Flip Kemp. Regarding The two houses before the station, one belonged to Du Preez and the other one belonged to Kallie Geel. Their wives were sisters. My father mr Serfontein was the brother of Geel, Du Preez and Kemps wives. My mother Mrs Serfontein worked at the telephone exchange. My mothers sister and her husband, mrs and mr Hall, were the caretakers of the country club. My father Mr Serfontein was well known for his music and concertina, and used to play at the country club. The station master that time was Kobie Myburg, and the station foreman was Mr Crouse. Next to Mr Crouse was mr and Mrs Kleynhans, well known for her freshly baked bread in the dover oven. Their daughter still resides in Graaff-Reinet. Mr De Beers house was also a shop. I went to school at Kendrew up until age 10, after that we took the train to town and attended school at Volkskool. Wonderful people… Parks, Wrights, Monks, Charles, Hobson, Berrington, Conradie, Smith, Murray, Jockie Olivier, Van den Bergs, as well as the well known local policeman, mr van wyk, with his ford f2 50, with the nickname pink pants, always without a shirt. Wonderful memories, never to forget!!

        • Davine Sansom says:

          Oom Boet van Vuuren was my Grandfather. Ouma Marie was his wife. They had 7 children 5 sons and 2 daughters. My Mother was Veronica. The one brother Christie died in a motorbike accident. Uncle Angelo Scanavino married my Oupa Boets sister.

        • Davine Sansom says:

          Eginia Hello. Are you family of the one gentleman that was Italian? His surname was Tracco. He was taken in by my Great grandfather van Vuuren. The other one was Angelo Scanivino


      Hi Etienne Small world after all. Uncle Boet van Vuuren was my Dad Herold van Vuuren’s brother. Aunty Kate the cat lady his Sister. We used to spend many school holidays in Kendrew. I remember climbing over the wall just to ring the bell and annoy all the Kendrew residents.

      • michael van Vuuren says:

        Hi Ursula As mentioned small world my grandfather Frans van Vuuren owed the shop and petrol pumps before Boet van Vuuren. I spend many holidays in the 60’s and and recall Kate and Sybil. Somehow Harold was related to my Dad Piet van Vuuren. I can also recal Francois Boet van Vuuren’s son but unfortunately lost track. Good Old days

        • Mari says:

          OUR grandfather is Christian van Vuuren known as Klein Boet van Vuuren, son of Frans van Vuuren.
          Boet van Vuuren is the son of Roelof van Vuuren.
          Klein Boet and Boet van Vuuren were cousins.

    • Michael van Vuuren says:

      My grandfather Frans van Vuuren who also had a General dealer in Kendrew, his brother known as Uncle Jan by me.
      My mother worked st the exchange in Kendrew .
      My Grandfatther took in two Italians who was prisoners of war if am correct with the surname of Traco and Scanivino.
      My grandfather was one of the builders of Aberdeen NG Church tower.

    • Michael van Vuuren says:

      My oupa Frans van Vuuren het ook n allgemeine handelaar in Kendre gehad.
      Hy was ook betrokke met die bou van Aberdeen se kerktoring
      Sy broer net bekend as Uncle Jan van Vuuren, Kate was woonagtig een van sy huis.
      My oupa het twee Italiaanse krygsgevanges destyds aangenaam by vannie Traco en Scanivino .Een her met een van sy dogters getrou

    • Michael van Vuuren says:

      My oupa Frans van Vuuren het algemene handelaar in Kendrew gehad in die 50’s.
      Sy broer net bekend as Uncle Jan aan my.
      Ek dink Kate het in een van Uncle Jan se huise gebly.
      My oupa was ook betrokke met Aberdeen se kerktoring.
      Hy het twee Italiaanse soldate destyds van werk voorsien by vanne Traco en Scanivino.
      Sy dogter is met een getroud.

    • Emily says:

      This is so amazing to read, because I grew up in that area. We use live on the farm Duikerdoorns. My dad use to work for a few farmers in the area, Brain Hobson, Flip Murray and I can’t remember all the others names.
      After school we use to gather infront of the shop before taking the long walk home. It was the best part of my life.

    • jean says:

      Such a nice story Etienne. My father married into the Monks family for a brief spell and Oom Billy Monks then became my step grandfather. Doorskraal is now still partly owned by Patrick Monks, he sold off the veld portion, but still has kept the home steads. I know that farm like the back of my hand, spent many many days walking alone with my .22, shooting pigeons and what ever I could. How complicated life has become since those sober days. Boy do I long for the slice and space of the Karoo!

  5. Norman van den Berg (Basie's son) says:

    We farmed at Brandkraal. My farther Basie sold the farm to Brian Hobson who is still alive .

    Basie passed away at age 76 in 1982.
    I also went back to look at Kendrew and the tennis club many years later. Not a good sight.

    Norman v d Berg
    Now living in Australia

  6. Brian Hobson says:

    Yes, I am still alive — 90 something. The accounts above are basically accurate. We will not quarrel over minor details.

    Many of the British settlers were bad eggs. People who had not managed to settle down to civilian life after WW1. My father said the wise ones had left again by the next train.

    But there were worthy people too. MacArthur became mayor of Port Elizabeth, and Barrie later owned a garage in Rondebosch. There were also wealthy people who came for various reasons. Grieg was a tea-planter in India, and he said to my father, “Oh no, you can’t make money in Kendrew, but it is the best place in the world for rheumatism”.

    He built the gabled house just down the road to Graaff-Reinet. His daughter, Mina, married Victor van den Berg.

    Then there were the Wartzes. Wilhelm Wartze’s father was an officer in Bismarck’s army, and he took part in the war against France in 1870. He married a Scottish woman, whose brother started an engineering business in Moscow. Young Wartze then trained as an engineer and joined his uncle in Moscow.

    When WW1 broke out, as a German, he was interned and sent to a camp somewhere near the Caspian Sea. He told me that, if he had not had money to bribe the guards, he would not have survived the journey. At every stop they threw dead bodies off the train. After the war, he managed to get out of Russia, and drifted around Europe for a while, and married an English woman, who had been teaching English in Poland, and had also been interned.

    To escape the chaos in Europe, they came to South Africa and settled at Kendrew. They lived at Duikerdoorns, and grew fruit. They were obviously wealthy people, and had many fine possessions.

    Then there was Admiral Sir Charles Pollard, whose wife’s escapades don’t bear repeating…

    • Charlotte says:

      Is there anyone at all who could tell me about the original founders of Kendrew as am researching my family history & it circles around Kendrew at it’s very beginning. They were English & (although possible) I’m hoping they weren’t quite like the drunks described here.

      • Carol [Kendrew] MAJOR says:

        I too am a Kendrew descendant (i.e. family name KENDREW). My grandfather – Henry Thomas Jobling KENDREW – left County Durham in May 1902 in the employ of Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Co (Darlington, England) to work on the construction of the Victoria Falls Bridge. After returning briefly to Yorkshire to marry his sweetheart, the two sailed in the SS “Gothic” to New Zealand where Henry continued in the employ of Cleveland Engineering, working on the construction of the Staircase rail viaduct on the South Island’s pioneering road & rail known then as the Midland Line.

        Having simply googled “KENDREW” I have been fascinated to discover the existence of KENDREW the town and Kendrew Estates. I have since contacted Kevin Clark who also is living in New Zealand.

        So…Charlotte, I’ll be delighted to read responses to your request for info about the original founders of KENDREW!


        • Tim Waller says:

          Hi! My mother was a Kendrew. My grandmother always told me that there was a place in S Africa named after her grandfather. He was a chief engineer on the proposed Cairo to Cape Town railway, which of course never was finished. I know nothing further than this .

          • Charlotte Hallows says:

            Hi Tim, we must be related in some way then I think. My grandmother was a Kendrew, & I was always told that (I believe it was her grandfather?) was THE Kendrew the town was named after because of the railway.

          • Charlotte says:

            Hi Tim, just checked with my mother (Penny Hallows) & you’re apparently her cousin haha! Didn’t recognise the surname, so yes, we’re definitely related. My grandmother being Elizabeth (Kendrew) Raffe

    • Jade says:

      Hi Brian,

      Could you provide any information on the development of Kendrew and the first buildings that were constructed there? Perhaps the small church and it’s location and if it resulted in the development of the area. I am a masters of architecture student completing my treatise and this info would be a great help.



      • Chris Hobson says:

        Hi Jade

        Unfortunately my father passed away last year and was unaware of the posts otherwise he would have replied. The church of my childhood was a corrugated iron building not far from the railway line. It was originally a office building of Schlesinger’s company. In the early 1980s the school was converted to a church and the old corrugated iron building reverted to a store. It caught alight several years later and burnt to the ground. The only thing that survives are some pepper trees planted at the time of my elder brother’s christening (He and some other children – Callie Oliver and Diane Charles I think were all christened at the same time).

    • John Neame says:

      I came across this site when searching for references to Admiral Sir Charles Pollard. I understand that St Charles was married to my mother’s great aunt Rhoda, so presumably is the one whose ‘escapades don’t bear repeating’! Needless to say, I’d be really interested to know more?

      • Chris Hobson says:

        Hi John
        My sister stumbled across this post about Kendrew and posted it on a family group. Unfortunately my dad has passed away and the stories of your great great aunt’s escapades have gone to the grave with him. I still live on a farm near Kendrew but virtually the only thing left is the railway line some buildings that accommodated railway employees, the old school (now a church) and the old post office.

  7. Vanessa Anderson says:

    I am extremely excited at finding this information about Kendrew. My late mother, Elizabeth Mary Hyde (1921- 2000) and her sister, Phyllis Hyde (1919- 1996) spent their childhood there. We were never quite sure how they ended up in a place like Kendrew because Phyllis was born in Durban and my mother was born in Standerton. Now, after reading about this con man, it all makes sense. My mother always used to go on about “Old man Schlesinger”. After their stint in the Karroo, they were extremely poor and landed up being taken in by the Salvation Army.
    My mother’s father, Norman Hyde, was from a very wealthy family in Yorkshire and he’d originally come out to fight in the Anglo-Boer War. His family washed their hands of him after the Kendrew incident although his sisters did offer to educate my mother and her sister at Roedean, Brighton. Both my grandfather’s sisters, Lillian and Annie Hyde, were founding teachers and housemistresses at the school.. Neither of the girls took up the offer. My grandfather died in the 1930’s and my grandmother in 1960.
    My mother always spoke fondly of her time in Kendrew – donkey carts and trapdoor spiders and trips into Graaff-Reinet to have the knots cut out of her hair. Apparently, my grandfather, who was very dapper, was very popular among the folk of the area and for that reason my grandmother didn’t speak much to the locals!
    Thanks to your article, I have now pieced together another piece of my past. I am very grateful. If anyone knows of any of the names I have mentioned, I would appreciate it if they would reply.
    Kind Regards,
    Vanessa Anderson( nee Rieker)

  8. Dave Glenister says:

    This is all very interesting – thank you so much all of you. It’s wonderful to see you still at it, Brian … you know so much about the people and farms around Graaff-Reinet! Re the photos of the Royal family in 1947 … I made a mistake and I’m surprised nobody picked me out. As far as I can see, the ‘Royal train’ went as far as Graaff-Reinet but no further i.e. the photos I have couldn’t have been taken at Bethesda Road which is to the north near the Lootsberg … they must have been taken at Koningsrus! If anyone is still interested, please let me know … the Royal family were welcomed by Pannell Kingwill, May Bremner and a host of farmers and their wives.

    Best to you all … Dave

  9. Jade says:

    Hi there,

    Could someone please provide me with information regarding the bio scope mentioned in the article (the article mentions it doubled up as a church on sundays). In particular, its location and time of construction.



  10. Jean Galloway says:

    My grandparents Charles and Mable Galloway left Scotland to start on new life on their farm in Kendrew in 1924. They sailed from Southampton and docked at Algoa Bay then going by train to Kendrew. My father Neil was born in Kendrew two weeks after they arrived in Africa. My grandfather built his farm house and planted apricot trees and tried his best to make a go of things but my grandmother by all accounts spent a bit too much time drinking and partying and eventually got on a train to Cape Town never to return leaving my grandad and my then 4 year old dad on their own. Their neighbours the MacQueens looked after my dad a fair bit and my dad and their son Robin MacQueen were life long friends.
    My granddad Charles was a keen golfer and played the sand holes at Kendrew Golf club regularly. When his farm failed (no irrigation water) he and my dad moved to the Kendrew Golf club when he became the golf pro – living at the club, looking after the club and coaching.
    I have memories of visiting Kendrew as a child and my dad taking us out to the farm and seeing the ruins of what was the family home. I do not know what the farm was called.
    Brian Hobson, yours was a name I remember from the stories dad used to tell.

  11. Dave Glenister says:

    A flimsy connection – in the 50s we spent many holidays in Bathurst and met Ross Hockly and his wife Dorothy nee Sykes. Only recently did I discover that Ross Hockly had something to do with management of Kendrew properties for IW Schlesinger before he retired, and that he met Dorothy Sykes, his second wife, at Kendrew. Dorothy was the daughter of a Scottish railway engineer who came to SA from India and settled at Kendrew. Does anyone perhaps remember these people?

    • Chris Hobson says:

      Hi Dave
      If memory serves me correctly I think Hockly was the general manager at Kendrew. Dad has passed on. He lived in the area his whole life and was a fountain of knowledge wrt Kendrew.

      • Dave Glenister says:

        Hi Chris

        Very sad to hear that your Dad has passed on … we will all miss his interesting contributions to these discussions. He had an amazing memory and such a diplomatic way of passing on a story! If you have time, please subscribe to this group so that there is continuity from the Hobson side. all the best to you and your family …


  12. Bruce Middleton says:

    Wow! What a delight finding this article and all the comments. I’m half Murray [my grandfather George, farmed at Goliatskraal in spite of being confined to a wheelchair most of his life]. Remember playing golf at Kendrew – must have been in 1981. Also the Anglican Church annual picnics on one of the farms out there. Wonderful childhood memories!

  13. Megan Scheepers (King) says:

    I grew up in my dads farm, Duikerdoorns, which is next to Doorskraal and surrounded by Kendrew estates. It has a full view of Tandjiesberg and in the winter you can see the snow in the mountains behind it. It’s beautiful. My dad, Michael King, had it after oom Jock. Back then oom Jock used it to keep young thoroughbred racehorses. Stables are still well maintained. Dad raised ostrich chicks in them. I know the area like the back of my hand, being an endurance rider, I have explored the entire district from the backs of my horses. I always pictured what the old post office and ruins used to look like. I remember this fondly and will always be a Karoo girl at heart. I’m 27 now and this article has me missing a place I once thrived in, although there was nothing there I felt like the queen of Kendrew! We also used the shearers that live there. Thank you so much for this piece as so few know of Kendrews story.

    • Joanne Jones says:

      Hi Megan
      The oom Jock you are referring to would be Jock Olivier. His second daughter Dawn was at school with me in Grahamstown, where many of the eastern Cape farmers children went to school.

    • Etienne "kudu" says:

      Hallo to everyone. Dis sommer lekker om almal se stories te lees en weer mens te voel met al die goeie herhinderhinge van vroer jare. Ek en my een vriend Gilbert het die laaste 2 weke net van Kendrew gepraat hier terwyl ons werk in Mosselbaai area. Die bou berdyf is groot die kant tans. Net die covid19 wat dinge bietjie omkrap. Gilbert se vrou het n ekstra bak cabonarra pasta ingepak so yummy ek het lekker geeet by die werk vandag. Het bietjie reen gekry ook in die area. Ek wil vir Garth bietjie kontak op Kendrew en n jag reël die winter. Ek het lyk my nuwe niggies en neefs ontdek hier soos ek lees so dis fantasies en die regte Queen van Duikerdoorns hie hie!!!!! Wat ek nog laas kon ontdou was die nuwe eienaar in die weermag gewees? Enige iemand wat iets wil deel van Kendrew kan WhatsApp op 0685333225 of email by Ek sien al die bloekom bome is tot nuut gemaak tussen kendrew en doorskraal. Dit lyk nie mooi nie. Van watter Francois praat jy want daar is oom Francois en sy seun klein Francois my neef. Ek het n nommer as jy soek. Wel dit reën nou weer so ek gaan nou slaap. Nag almal en groete. …

  14. william rex says:

    Wow…took me back to 1974 -76 when I attended Spandau High in Graaff-Reinet.
    We took the train from Willowmore and changed trains at Klipplaat station. My late father’s family came from Kendrew where he worked as a farm labourer. His name was Apools Pieterse and he married a Nancy Blaauw who worked in a kitchen on one of the farms.
    They moved to the Uniondale district in the early 50’s.

  15. Grace Gula says:

    My name is Grace (Mariaan) Gula–Belu.

    I grew up on Kendrew farm in the 1960s. I went to the Bantu farm school there, on Mr Brian Charles’ farm. He was the main gentleman who cared for us and provided food and water.
    My father Hans worked for him and also my 2 brothers Eddie and Boet Belu. I have so many memories of Kendrew. All the people that once lived there are now in the City of PE and the others are in Graaff- Reinet area.
    On Saturdays we went to a farm called Groot De Hoop, Oom Jockie Olivier’s farm and Tandjiesview farm of Oom Flippie Marais where we ate lots of fruit and meat.

    I will leave the City to come back to my Kendrew one day if the place can be renewed again.

    Kind regards, Grace

  16. BridgetM says:

    It has been interesting to discover this page about Kendrew – in my family history research I have only recently found a relative was one of those who was probably thought of as a ‘bad egg’ as the late Brian Hobson mentioned previously.
    Readers of these notes may be interested in his story, but as I know he has at least one living grandchild, I shall call him ‘Peter’ (not his name).
    Born in India, after school in England, Peter became an Engineer on a railway company in India and also served in a volunteer military unit there. He arrived in Canada in his mid-20s, some years before the outbreak of the First World War. Peter volunteered within weeks, starting as a Lance Sergeant and embarking for England soon after. By early 1915 he was in France and by then had been commissioned in the Canadian Ordnance Corps. Having been in France through most of the Battles of the Somme (July – November 1916) Peter returned to England on leave, during which he spent a week in hospital being treated for Neurasthenia. Neurasthenia was the term for a rather vague collection of symptoms, similar to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, apparently the result of stress and physical and mental exhaustion. After a few weeks in England, Peter was back in France, promoted and in a higher level post in the Canadian Ordnance Service. Early in 1918 he married in London; later that year he was twice Mentioned in Dispatches, so must have been doing a good job. By the time Peter was discharged in 1919, he had been promoted to Major.
    With the financial support of his wife’s family, Peter set up a poultry farm in southern England, but did not succeed; within a few years he was declared bankrupt, with a hint in the newspaper report of the examination that he had been drinking to excess. In the mid 1920s, with his wife and two very young children, Peter arrived in South Africa. In less than 6 months, he was dead, the principal cause of death recorded as the severe form of alcohol withdrawal known as delirium tremens, also its effect on the heart.
    Was Peter drinking as self-medication for after-effects of his war experiences, as so many did? Or was he poleaxed when he saw there was little chance of making a living by farming in Kendrew? Maybe it was a habit that started in his early days in India? Impossible to know now.
    How must his wife have felt, widowed with two young children in a country where they had not yet put down roots? I met her, by then an elderly lady – gracious and kind, and I now know, from a relatively well-off background; not the ideal upbringing for a farmer’s wife.
    Back in the 1990s I stayed overnight in Graaff Reinet, during a road trip across S.A. – but I knew none of this then.

  17. michael van Vuuren says:

    Boet van Vuuren Bought the general dealer from my Grand father Frans van Vuuren, I last visited Kendrew in 1966.

  18. Dan Jones says:

    I have just come across this website and thought there may be some interest in my Kendrew experiences. I still have some detailed memories of what it was like there in the late 1940s and early 1950s. My grandfather, Pannell Kingwill (my mother was Joyce), retired there from his farm Gordonville near Nieu Bethesda in 1946 and moved to Kendrew where he lived until his death in 1956. We spent many wonderful school holidays on his farm Koningsrus – so named after the White Train carrying the royal family stopped there in 1947. I do not know what the farm was previously named. I stayed at Koningsrus for the last time in 1955.
    I was not there at the time of the royal visit but would have been too young to remember much. However, I do have detailed knowledge of the visit from accounts of family members who were present and from the many photographs that I saw later – some of which I inherited. Unfortunately, these have disappeared over the years. However, there are a number of photographs reproduced in the compilation by Jonathan Kingwill: “The Kingwill Family History South Africa”, 3rd Edition, 2012.
    Some of the information given on this website is incorrect. The White Train did not stop at Kendrew or Bethesda Road stations. On 25 February 1947 the train stopped at Koningsrus and then went on to Graaff Reinet station. At Koningsrus the train was met by Pannell and his second wife, Gladys (Birch), and a number of local residents. Enid Bremner (my mother’s sister) and her daughters Rosemary and Gail were also there. Amongst the many photos there are several of Pannell talking earnestly with the King and one of Rosemary presenting the Queen with a bouquet of flowers. Princess Elizabeth did not turn 21 on that day. She turned 21 in Cape Town and a huge party was held for her in the city hall on 21 April 1947.
    I still have memories of Kendrew being a vibrant village with lots of social activities mostly centred at the country club. Sunday was a big day when many of the residents dressed up in their finery to have Sunday lunch at the club. I particularly remember the Wartzes coming to the lunches; The Colonel (as we called him) wore the full dress-uniform of the Prussian army and his Scottish wife wore a long flowing dress. Children were not allowed into the dining room and had to eat in a separate area. I remember the tennis courts where my mother used to play and the sand golf course. If one got a ball onto the “green” one had to smooth the path to the cup and then pour on used motor oil so the ball did not stop dead in the sand.
    I also remember other great social occasions such as going by ox wagon to picnics on the banks of the Sundays River (there was water in it in those days). Also Christmas, New Year and Easter were usually grandly celebrated either at the club or on someone’s farm. I can recall the names of some of the families who lived in Kendrew or nearby – Hobson, Cawood, Galloway, McNaughton, Hockly, Girdlestone. van der Berg (they farmed at Brandkraal on the other side of the Sundays River). Unfortunately I cannot recollect most of the first names. I think there was also a vet by the name of Thornton
    I have been to Graaff Reinet often in the intervening years but have never been to Kendrew as I wanted to remember it as I knew it when I was a child. This attitude was reinforced when I started hearing about the deterioration of the village, the demolition of the country club and eventually that most people had left.
    However, two weeks ago I was in Graaff Reinet and decided to go to Kendrew for the first time in 66 years to see the situation for myself. I was particularly interested to see what had happened at Koningsrus. Driving down with my wife from Adendorp I looked for the huge “KONINSRUS” sign that used to be above the entrance to the farm which was on the left before reaching the village. I saw no such sign and thought that the farm must have been abandoned. I drove through what was left of the village to where the country club used to be.
    Most of the village buildings were derelict and were falling down. Only the old shop and some of the railway buildings were in reasonable condition. There was not a single person to be seen and so we turned around and started back to Graaff Reinet. I suddenly saw someone in Kendrew Estates (there were houses there that are obviously still inhabited) and drove in and asked him about Koningsrus. He said it was still operational but there was no sign anymore. Going back I found the farm and realized that I had missed it because the entrance was very overgrown.
    I stopped outside and had a fairly clear view of the house (which is close to the road) and the yard. It looked exactly as I remembered it – the house with the covered back porch, the garage and workshop, the stables and milking shed, the “cold room”( that I remember being built). Also visible was the concrete plinth with the water tank on top that provided the water supply for the house. However, the tank was plastic and not corrugated iron as I remember it . The farmer saw us sitting in the car and came to speak to us. I told him that I had not been there since 1955 and he said “nothing has changed”. That is what it looked like to me. He said that the Koningsrus sign had been taken down in 1990 but they were considering re-erecting it. From the road between Adendorp and Kendrew the only sign of activity was a thriving ostrich farm just before Kendrew.
    On balance I am sorry I revisited Kendrew – I would rather remember it as it was in 1955.
    Dr Dan Jones
    Cape Town
    25 April 2021

  19. Stephen Mullineux says:

    I didn’t know the train did not stop at Kendrew, but I know it was late arriving there. I still have ALL the large flags that were used at Kendrew Station for the Royal train visit, most now rather moth-eaten. Penny Murray (nee Rubidge), who waited as a young primary school girl to welcome the Royal family, gave them to me. Penny now lives here in Cradock. Penny’s late husband, Peter, grew up in Kendrew.

  20. Roger Sambokwe says:

    I grew up on the most beautiful farm Kendrew in 1970.I I went school at the Kendrew Bantu Farm School.My grand dad Solomon was a labourer on this farm working for Mr BT Charles. All those beautiful farms,Duikerdoorns,Wheatlands,Tandtjiesview,Brandkraal,Groot and Klein De Hoop,The Island,Charlwood,Koningsrus,Roodeberg,Blouboskuil,Hopewell. Playing cowboy and croocks with the Van Vuuren youngsters, shooting rabbits and spring hasies with Chris Hobson And Haldin Murray those were the good times.Fetching wood in the camps made us run and leave the fire wood behind when Lance and Malcolm Charles chased us with the Nomad (which we called the draad kar).Keep Kendrew alive.

  21. Christo Willemse says:

    My Grandparents lived in Kendrew for a short time, perhaps a year or 2 and as far as I can remember from what my Mother told me, he used to be the Signal Master. My Mother started school in Kendrew at the age of 5 in 1960. My Grandparents were Tienie and Eileen Gouws, my Mother was Enoudia, or Meisie as she was affectionately called by her parents. I wished she was still around to read all the interesting stories. She was extremely fond of Kendrew and had happy memories of their time staying there. Her and my Dad returned many times times up until the time she passed away.

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