Talana Museum South Africa  

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Smith Cottage

Smith Cottage – Talana Museum


Thomas built this simple cottage (originally only the two front rooms), in 1859.  

The two Smith brothers who emigrated to Natal,  were the sons of Thomas Smith and Mary Paterson.  They had originally lived on Hole Mill farm in Forfarshire, near Dundee, Scotland.

Thomas Smith left home in the 1850’s and headed for Ballarat on the Australian gold fields.  He spent five years there before coming to Natal.  On arrival in Natal in 1855 he was granted 3000 acres in Northern Natal and named his farm “Dundee”.  He was a building contractor, farmed on a small scale and was responsible for building many of the homes in the area.

Peter Smith was born in 1828.  In 1859 he and his family emigrated to Natal.   At this time, Natal was suffering from an economic recession and the Government had stopped granting land to  immigrants.  Peter and a fellow traveller, William Duff, leased a farm in the Ladysmith area.  This was unsuccessful and they were forced to earn extra money by cutting trees in the Cundy Cleugh area on the Drakensberg Escarpment and selling the wood.  They were paid in cattle and were soon able to return to farming in 1864.

Thomas had built a small cottage on “Dundee” and in 1864 he persuaded Peter and Ann and their family to join him.  Thomas was a confirmed bachelor and never married.  He continued with his building contracting, whilst Peter took over the farming operations and later coal mining from the slopes of Talana hill..  The brothers burnt their own bricks and established a fine herd of cattle and a flock of merino sheep on “Dundee”. They also sold their coal on the market in Pietermaritzburg. The journey by ox wagon to and from Pietermaritzburg took 2 months.


Points of interest:

The many descendants of the five children of Peter and Ann Smith joined forces to restore the Smith cottage for the centenary of Dundee town (May 1982).

The roof of the original cottage was thatch, but the corrugated iron iron roof dates from 1901.

The cottage is built on an outcrop of natural  sandstone - there are no foundations.

The original cottage was the two front rooms. The kitchen, pantry and bathroom were added in the 1870's.

The main bedroom and drawing room were added after the Anglo Boer War.

The roll-top desk in the drawing room belonged to Peter Smith.

The wallpaper and flooring designs were passed on to museum researchers by elderly people who had known and visited the Smith’s in this home so that we could recreate the house as it would have been at the time that Peter and Ann lived in it.


 Photos to be attached for this information.