Not often does Dargle host a book launch. Despite the miserable weather, no one wanted to miss this event and enthusiastic residents and friends crowded into Tanglewood Country Hotel for the launch of Brian Griffin’s book, My Dargle, last week.
The first hundred years of pioneer habitation of Dargle were interesting times. Brian, in collaboration with others, has produced a book entitled My Dargle, collating stories about these years. The first settlers were the Fannin’s who were transported to the area by Dick King in 1847, apparently passing a herd of 94 elephants in Westville before arriving at Maritzdaal which was previously owned by Gert Maritz.
At the launch Brian recalled that he and his siblings and cousins grew up as ‘wild children’. This freedom of movement and association was echoed by many of the other speakers (descendants of the original settlers) who had contributed to the book. There were tales of afternoons spent dancing in the kraal, of riding a horse to town, of spending entire days alone in the veld at the tender age of five and wonderful celebrations which included eight month olds and eighty year olds. The slow pace, sense of belonging and close knit community is something much sought after nowadays.
Many years ago, Nan Slade and Liz Kimber first mooted the idea of a book and began gathering information. Brian mulled over the idea for at least five years and then fortuitously, Linda Grainger, a more recent arrival, offered to transcribe all the scraps of paper into computer documents and John McKenzie decided to publish it. Many others have contributed photographs, stories and anecdotes to make this a real celebration of Dargle community. We heard how integral the Dargle Station was to farm life, with urns of milk and boxes of cabbages left on the siding for collection and safe delivery to the Market. We learnt about the goings on at tennis parties and gymkhanas, we caught up with more recent polo playing friends and bridge partners – althogether a exceptionally enjoyable and friendly evening.
GB McKenzie’s grandson asked him recently “Is it true you lived in the olden days grandad?” Yes, it is true, although GB was only around for the last 10 years of the first hundred years of Dargle’s existence. Seems the sequel should be started soon! Brian was most impressed at the large crowd which had gathered to celebrate the launch with him and buy signed copies of the book. He thanked everyone who had contributed so generously to ensuring that these stories were recorded for posterity.
For a charming and entertaining slice of historical Midlands life, My Dargle is a highly recommended read. Available at Lazy Lizard in Howick and Book World in Cascades, Pietermaritzburg.
Back: John McKenzie, Ian Fannin, Michael Hill, Iain Sinclair, GB McKenzie Front: Floss Mitchell, Anne Line, Brian Griffin
Photographer: Carla Hardman
Who else was there?
Richard Kimber, Andrew Fowler and Dieter Setz
The le Seur’s and Fly’s caught up with old friends
Mark Crawford and Natasha Alli
Serene de Chazal and Jenny Stipcich laughed with Brian
Irma Willan and Karin Herd
Nikki Brighon chatted to Richard and Liz Kimber
Evert van Bremem commented afterwards:” What a great evening. The Dargle Station has drawn my interest ever since we moved to the Dargle. As we heard, it was such an important part of the community’s economic well-being. It deserves to be more than the vandalised structure of today. Do you think that we can get the railways to consider us as custodians of the site and allow us, with or without their help, to refurbish it back to its former glory. It could also become a very attractive site for the monthly market.”