Location: South Africa » Northern Cape » Karoo » Richmond

(Including Byrne Valley)

In a picturesque rural setting on the banks of the Illovo River is the little town of Richmond, founded in 1850 by the British Byrne Settlers. They came from Beaulieu, the seat of the Duke of Buccleuch in Richmond, and were the founders of many leading families in Natal. Although Richmond is associated with the Byrne Settlers, they were not the first while inhabitants of the area. A section of the Voortrekkers were the first to settle in what was then known as the Tafelberg district in Richmond. Many farm names and shaded ruins today indicates early Boer occupation. After the Boers left the area, the Byrne immigration scheme was established. In 1840 Hendry Earl Grey, British Colonial Secretary, made an agreement with JC Byrne that for every deposit of 1000 pounds which he made with the Emigration Commissioners in London, he could purchase 5000 acres of Crown Land in Natal for four shillings an acre. The emigrants were to pay Byrne 10 pounds for a decrage passage and for 20 acres of land with an additional five acres for each child. Byrne employed a surveyor, John Morcland of North Riding, Yorkshire as his agent in Natal. Morcland sailed in the Washington and set up office in Durban to organize what became ‘the 1850 Byrne Settler Scheme’ which brought more than 2000 British Settlers to the areas all over Natal. Moreland decided to take a trip through the Tafelberg district and was most impressed with what he saw. In May 1850 Moreland bought 31 000 acres of land in six lots along the Illovo River for Byrne and bought the best site for laying out a town. In defence to the Duke of Buccleuch, Moreland named the village Beaulieu-on-Illovo. The reason for the change is obscure, but it is possible that Alexander Shaw (Chairman of the Committee) had in mind his own family association with Richmond in Yorkshire, or perhaps it was named after the Duke’s residence of Richmond-on-Thanes in Surrey. As more and more settlers arrived, shops, church, schools and streets were established. The verdant district served by the town is engaged principally in dairy, stock, timber and sugar cane farming. Richmond can boast a few ‘firsts’ – the first Girls College in Natal, the first tennis club in South Africa, the oldest Anglican Church in Natal, the oldest country primary school. From Richmond one can take many scenic drives to other centres (some are on dirt roads), one to the magnificent Hela-Hela Valley and the Umkomaas River, above which is the Sapekoe Tea Estate on 523 ha, it’s neat tea gardens commanding breathtaking views of the countryside.

Byrne Valley

Close to Richmond (15 km) is the hamlet of Byrne, named after JC Byrne, founder of the Byrne Immigration Scheme. Byrne is most charmingly situated, sheltered by high hills and indigenous bush, with numerous houses dotted here and there. In summer time it is a veritable flower garden, the air redolent with the scent thereof. Large oak trees mark the sites of the rough homes of the first Boers, at one time owners of large tracts of land in and around the valley. As the first settlers (Byrne Settlers) were among the survivors of the wrecked Minerva, their first homes were tents or wattle-and-daub and thatched huts. These brave pioneers were hard pressed to furnish their homes and improve their lands. Today it reflects a different picture, with modern homes, beautiful gardens and numerous bed and breakfast establishments. The area offers many walking and riding trails and is home to several artists.


How to get there - Pietermaritzburg 37 km

Banks – Absa (ATM), Fnb (ATM)

Dams – Beaulieu

Rivers – Illovo, Umkomaas


Baynesfield Museum

The Baynesfield Estate and Museum are living monuments to Joseph Baynes, politician, philanthropist and agricultural pioneer, who left his mark on the dairy and bacon industries and on the usage of hydro-electric power.


Richmond, Byrne & District Museum

Housed in a former Prebysterian manse (1882), exhibits depicts the history and culture of the area.

Richmond Government Primary School

Opened on 1 September 1850. the first schoolmaster was one W McKenzie. In 1938, when the European school moved to the present day site, the old school was handed over to the Indian Community. A small wood and iron building at the corner of Benjamin and Ferreira Streets had catered at various times for Indian, African and Coloured children. In 1974 after a fire had all but destroyed the old school, the present new Indian State School building was erected and completed in 1975.

Small Byrne School

Held in the first little yellowwood church building, was established in 1862, discontinued in the early 1900’s when children could be accommodated in the Richmond School Hostel. At about this time a private school was held in Richmond’s first library in Harding Street, run by the librarian a Mr Falooner and his sister.

St Joseph’s Coloured School

Opened in 1936. It catered mainly for orphans and children from broken homes. It was a boarding school. Initially it operated in front of the Roman Catholic Church, but today the Coloured Day School is in Campbell Street.

St Mary’s College for Young Ladies

Started by the first vicar, Rev FG Fearie, in 1869, was the first Girl’s boarding school in Natal and adjoining the vicarage on land donated by Bishop Mactarie.

St Mary Madalene Church - In Byrne Valley, this church was built in 1909.

Street Names

Albert Street – Prince Alfred, Prince Consort

Beaulieu Street – The Duke of Buccleuch’s home estate in Hampshire.

Benjamin Street – Lieutenant Governor Sir Benjamin Chilley Campbell Pine

Church Street - St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church

Feilden Street – Benjamin Chilley Campbell Pine

Harding Street – Walker Harding (Crown Prosecutor in Natal), acting Secretary to the Governor

Hawkins Street – Capt AC Hawkins. Richmond Magistrate for 34 years

Lamport Street – Mr Lamport, a merchant and cotton planter. A relative of the English Shipping Owners – Hope & Lamport

Nelson Street – Lord Nelson

Pine Street – Lieutenant Governor Sir Benjamin Chilley Campbell Pine

Princess Street – Scottish influence. Princess Street in Edinburgh. Named after the Princess Royal

Russell Street – John Russell – he set up the Immigration Board in England 1840

Shepstone Street – Sir Theophilus Shepstone

Victoria Street – Queen Victoria


Qunu Falls

The 80 m high Qunu, or ‘thunder’, falls are on a tributary of the Umkomaas River in the 183 ha Qunu Forest Reserve, on the Hela-Hela road between Richmond and Eastwolds. To reach the falls, turn left after 38 km and drive for a further 2 km. this road links up 9 km further on with the tarred Ixopo Underberg road. Guides take you through the forest.

Soada Forest Nature Reserve

This 498 ha forest slopes down to the deep Umkomaas River valley, just beyond the Hela-Hela bridge and about 24 km from Richmond on the Eastwold road. It is rich in giant yellowwoods and cycads, and visitors may see bushbuck, vervet monkey, grey duiker and red duiker. Also in the reserve is an impressive two stage waterfall, with a drop of 90 m. Although controlled by the KZNNCS, the only access is through a privately owned farm


Annual Events

Winter Golf Classic – May

Game Valley Estates

Some 20 km from Richmond are the Hela-Hela, or ‘buttresses’ – sandstone cliffs towering high over the Umkomaas River. Two kilomteres beyond the cliffs is Game Valley Estates, a ranch stocking wildebeest, warthog and several species of antelope. The ranch, which specializes in hunting, photographic safaris and paragliding, offers year round accommodation.

Granny Flo

Genuine home made jams. B&B accommodation available. By appointment only.

Roselands Outdoor Adventure Centre

Located in the Hella-Hella area, the centre offers scenic walks, excellent birding, game viewing and a tour of a kiwi fruit farm.



Backpacking Trails, Bird Watching, Canoeing, Fishing, Game Viewing, Hang Gliding, Horse Trails, Hunting, Mountain Bike Trails, Paragliding, Swimming

Accommodation in and around Richmond

Nyala Pans River Lodge    accommodation in Richmond
Nyala Pans River Lodge set in the magnificent Umkomaas Valley on the banks of the mighty Umkomaas River. 45 mins from Pietermaritzburg on the Richmond / Ixopo road. Comfortable family accommodation sleeping 20 people in 4 double rooms and 2 lofts. En... More

Newbrough Grange Bed & Breakfast    accommodation in Richmond
The Family Home: If you want to taste and enjoy a touch of Europe Michèle & Michel will warmly welcome you for a dinner with their family. You will discover a range of home-made French and European meals, made... More

Directory of accommodation in Richmond