Nelspruit Timeline 1815-1996

1815
Louis Trichardt and Hans van Rensburg cross the Oranje/Gariep river.
June 1836, Van Rensburg leaves Trichardt while Potgieter goes on an expedition to the Lowveld.
1845
Andries Hendrik Potgieter leads the Voortrekkers to establish the first White settlement in the Eastern Transvaal at Ohrigstad. A second group led by JJ Burger followed. The two groups disagree, and Potgieter moves north to found the town of Schoemansdal, while Burger’s group move south to found Lydenburg in 1947, which became a centre for the Boers.
1840s
Boleu establishes Thaba Ntsho (Black Mountain), a fortified capital built on a hill near today’s Grobblersdal. But the Boers raid his settlement and flog him, forcing him into submission.
1863
The Boers, with Pedi support, launch an attack on Erholweni, the fortress of the Nzundza under the reign of Chief Mabhogo. But the Pedi, sustaining most of the casualties, desert the Boers after an unsuccessful assault.
1864
The Boers ask the Swazi to help mount an assault on the Kopa of Chief Boleu. Together they attack the Kopa, defeating them, and capturing 2500 women and children. Boleu is killed.
An attack on the Nzundza fails, and many Boers in the area are forced to submit to Chief Mabhogo’s terms, offering him cattle to keep the peace.
1866
Alexander McCorkindale presents a proposal to the government for the construction of a railway to Lourenço Marques.
1873
Gold is discovered in Pilgrims Rest, 80km north of Nelspruit, bringing scores of prospectors to the region.
The Portuguese forge a route to the foot of the Lebombo Mountains, and in January 1875, Alois Hugo Nellmapius is given a concession to construct a road from the goldfields to the foot of the Lebombo Mountains.
1874
November, a government-appointed commission presents its report on possible railway construction, and President Burgers puts the resolution to the Volksraad, who pass it by 16 November.
1877
Britain, represented by Theophilus Shepstone, annexes the Transvaal, but political wrangling forces them to restore the Republic to the Boers by 1881.
1883
The Ndzundza are defeated by the Boers, and many end up working on Boer farms.
1884
Barberton is established, with the discovery of the Sheba reef being the height of gold exploration. Most of the gold ran out and Barberton later became a centre for agricultural production.
April/May, the Nel brothers meet railway surveyors in the area of the creek (spruit). The surveyors’ recommendations are investigated by a commission, which reported their findings to the government on 23 August 1884. Their report is published in the Government Gazette on 28 August, and Nelspruit comes into being by receiving official recognition.
1889
A survey of the area around Nelspruit Station sets out 120 stands for future development.
1891
1 July, the railhead from Lourenço Marques reaches Komatipoort, then Hectorspruit on 1 October, Malelane on 28 December, Kaapmuiden in March 1892, Krokodilpoort in April 1892, and Nelspruit on 20 June 1892. By 1 January 1895 the railway is extended to Pretoria, and the line is officially opened on 27 June 1895.
November, the Hall family open the doors of their new hotel, mainly to accommodate railway construction workers. The hotel is moved to the centre of Nelspruit in June 1892 after the completion of the railway, to become the first building erected in the town named The Fig Tree Hotel.
1892
The ZAR installs a regent to rule the Pedi, causing rifts within Pedi society. The Pedi divide into two groups, those who accept the regent and those that reject him in support of Sekhukhune II, son of Sekhukhune.
1893
A telegraph service is established in Nelspruit.
1895
Venda Chief Makhado dies.
1898
20 January, Permission is granted for water to be pumped into Nelspruit from the Gladdespruit.
President Paul Kruger signs a proclamation to establish the conservation park eventually named after him.
1899
11 October, The South African War is declared, and fighting commences.
Steinacker and his scouts blow up the bridge near the Malelane station, killing the Swiss engine driver and his stoker. Thereafter, trains were no longer allowed to travel at night and had to stable at Nelspruit.
Sekhukhune II saw the South African War as an opportunity to unite the divided Pedi, and attacked Pedi chiefs not loyal to him. But after the British occupied Lydenburg in September 1900, British commander Redvers Buller forced the Pedi to cease their civil war, and turn their hostility against the Boers. The Pedi raided Boer farms, ejecting them and settling on the farms. The Ndzundza, under Matsitsi, who had been living alongside the Boers, turned on them after the British began supplying them with guns.
Timeline: Nelspruit 1900-1996
1900
May, Paul Kruger abandons Pretoria for Machadadorp, then Waterval Onder. He moves to Nelspruit on 29 May 1900, where he receives a message saying Lord Roberts had annexed the Transvaal. Kruger declares the annexation illegitimate on 3 September 1900, the same day that Nelspruit is proclaimed the administrative capital of the Transvaal Republic.
June, Kruger leaves Nelspruit and travels to Mozambique to board a ship to Switzerland.
1902
British cavalry officer James Stevenson-Hamilton is appointed to manage the conservation park. By 1909 there are 25 elephants, eight rhinos, about 55 buffalo, a number of eland, hippos and large herds of roan antelope, hartebeest and kudu. Predatory animals like lion, tigers and crocodiles are shot.
31 May, the war ends and Lord Alfred Milner installs a British administration to rule the Transvaal.
1902
6 September, The British convene the Schoonoord Conference, to explain British policy to the 44 chiefs and 39 headmen from the Transvaal at the conference. Sekhukhune II declared that they had been under the imression that their land and cattle would be returned but the British refused to concede either, and also informed the chiefs that all firearms would be confiscated.
1904
Barberton is upgraded to municipal status.
January, Servaas de Kock completes a survey of Nelspruit commissioned by the British administration. 
1905
The first citrus fruit from the area is exhibited at a horticultural show in London.
March, White River Farmers Association is established.
Percy Fitzpatrick writes Jock of the Bushveld in England.
27 January, Nelspruit is proclaimed leaving the way free for land to be parcelled out to buyers.
1910
The various colonies and Boer republics are drawn together into a single political entity, the Union of South Africa.
1911
April, Construction begins on a railway line to Graskop in the northwest, using White labour.
1912
2 September, a health committee is established to oversee the sanitation of railway workers.
1913
February, Nelspruit gets its first telephone exchange.
23 August, the establishment of the Lowveld Farmers Association begins with its first meeting at the Fig Tree Hotel.
November, The line to Sabie is completed, and reaches Graskop on 18 May 1914.
1914
Outbreak of WWI.
1916
Barclays Bank opens its first branch in Nelspruit.
First school is established in Nelspruit.
65 000 cases of citrus are being exported every year.
Establishment of White River Estates with HT Glynn as first chairman.
1918
Post Office opens in Nelspruit.
1919
Standard Bank opens a sub-branch of the Barberton branch, upgraded to full branch status in 1922.
1920s
A Farmers’ Association comprising 125 members is established. 2-million citrus trees are planted in the decade. The Fruit Grower’s Exchange and the South African Cooperative Citrus Exchange are established.
1922
Nelspruit is upgraded to the status of a town.
1924
A direct route to Kaapschehoop is completed.
1924/5
American Professor HJ Webber visits Nelspruit. A director at the Citrus Experiment Station in Riverside, California, he advises on the establishment of a research institute in 1925. Three hundred acres are set aside for the station, which begins operating in 1926.
1925
The British Royal Family visits the region, stopping at Barberton. Peter Wilhelm, the chair of the Nelspruit Town Council, meets the Prince of Wales.
1927
Lawyer Ivan Solomon becomes the sole owner of Crocodile Estates, a consolidation of 601 plots, each 5 acres in size and previously owned by mainly British investors. The estate becomes a significant exporter of citrus by 1939.
July, Nelspruit sees its first motor cars, and the streets are lined with newly planted trees.
5 July, Foundation stone laid for first NG Kerk in Nelspruit.
Highway from Johannesburg to Komatipoort is completed.
1928
A road to Schoemanskloof is completed.
1929
The conservation park is extended and renamed the Kruger National Park.
1930
March, Edmund Caldwell, illustrator of Jock of the Bushveld, dies.
1931
Percy Fitzpatrick, author of Jock of the Bushveld, dies.
20 January, First talking movie, Rio Rita, is screened in the Farmers Hall.
A classification system is adopted for the registration of local motor vehicles.
Nelspruit declared a magisterial district, no longer a part of the Barberton magisterial district.
November, a licensing committee is established, and licences to sell alcohol are dispensed.
1932
The Great Depression is at its worst.
Nelspruit gets its first truck.
1933
A hydroelectric dam brings electricity to the town.
1934
The Nelspruit District Publicity Association is established, adopting the motto “Nelspruit, the Hub of the Lowveld”.
1937
The road between Nelspruit and Kaapmuiden via Mara en Boulders is completed.
1939
Outbreak of WWII.
Lowveld experiences floods.
Paragon Hotel opens in Nelspruit.
Longmere dam  is completed.
1940
Nelspruit gets its first municipal swimming pool.
12 October, Nelspruit City Council is established, with Bob Aling as the first mayor.
HL Hall dies.
1947
A housing scheme for 127 homes is established with proclamation of Nelspruit Extension 2 and Westacres.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II visits the town, and receives a gift of furniture made from local wood.
1949
April, Volkskas (bank) opens a branch in Nelspruit.
The first Nelspruit Show is held on the grounds of Hoerskool Nelspruit.
1948
The National Party win the general election and begin to institute apartheid policies.
1950
Nelspruit Extension Two and West Acres are established.
1950- 1970
A mini population boom began in the 1950s and 60s, and the White population increased from 2186 in 1951 to 4247 in 1960.
Extension Three came into being in 1954/5. Extension Four and Sonheuwel followed (1958), Extension Five in 1962, Extension Six in 1964, and Eight in 1967. Extension Seven was proclaimed in 1970.
1951
August, A branch of the Land Bank opens in Nelspruit.
1953
Nelspruit Street names, previously numbered, change to be named after Afrikaner Nationalist VIPs.
1955
Bilharzia monitoring station opens.
1958
10 March, the new enlarged Post Office headquarters opens.
July, Registration of the Lowveld Trust.
The Lowvelder newspaper moves from Barberton to Nelspruit.
1962
Completion of Rob Ferreira Hospital in Nelspruit.
1964
Sappi begins its first plantation in the Eastern Traansvaal.
May, A new enlarged police station is opened.
The Nelspruit Laerskool (primary school) is established, with 1384 students in attendance.
1965
Nelspruit has 1200 homes and 260 registered businesses.
1966
Braam Raubenheimer becomes MP for Nelspruit.
Boven/Komatipoort rail becomes electrified.
Road to Krokodilpoort is completed.
1968
June, the central square is renamed Presidentsplein.
1969
The Botanical Gradens is established as a tourist facility as well as a scientific research station.
1970
Berg-en-Dal monument inaugurated.
Lowveld High School opens.
1971
15 May, Rob Ferreira becomes mayor, while Braam Raubenheimer becomes Deputy Minister of Bantu Administration.
TMGE (Pilgrims) is taken over by Rand Mines. Rand Mines and Thomas Barlow & Sons merge to become Barlow Rand.
1972
Van Riebeeckpark swimming pool opens for Whites in Nelspruit.
1973
March, East Transvaal Bantu Administration Board headquarters open in Nelspruit.
Gazankulu and Lebowa granted self-governing status.
1974
Nelpark was established to house Coloured residents of Nelspruit.
Barlow rand sells Pilgrims Rest to TPA.
Mozambique declared independent, with Samora Machel as first President.
1978
Kangwane, called the Swazi homeland, is granted self-governing status.
Kanyamazane is established as part of the forced removals policy. Situated 30km from Nelspruit as a labour reserve, it becomes the largest Black township in the region.
1986
Pilgrims Rest is declared a national monument.
28 July, Two MK cadres are killed in a skirmish with the South African Police (SAP)
30 July, an anti-tank landmine explodes, but no injuries are reported.
17 August, an anti-tank landmine explodes on the Stellen Rust farm near Nelspruit, but no injuries are reported.
November 1986, a landmine explosion near Nelspruit kills one woman, and injures one child.
Steve Tsotetsi and Kenneth Mabuza, are were killed by security police and members of the Kabasa gang in Nelspruit.
1994
The ANC wins the general election and Matthews Phosa becomes the premier of Mpumalanga, the new province.
1996
August, TRC hearings begin at the Van Riebeeck Hall in Nelspruit.

Last updated : 07-Jan-2016

This article was produced by South African History Online on 01-Apr-2011