Chapter 21: Transfer to Buntingville

Euphorbias near Buntingville

Euphorbias near Buntingville

Meanwhile I had taken over at Buntingville. Unlike the Church of Scotland which had cut adrift from any connection with ‘Bantu Education’ the Wesleyan Church had decided that even if they could no longer control their institutions the would still manage the hostels, which I think was ‘the better part.’ Thus when I went to Buntingville, a much older institution than Blythswood, the two hostels were still managed by the church, in the person of the Rev Mr Place. My wife and I found that we had to live in a most peculiar house, built in three different parts on different levels and with a rood that leaked tremendously when it rained, the water all flowing down into the toilet! We were, however, very happy there during our four-year stay.

The stream below our house

We were very happy at Buntingville and soon became very friendly with Mr and Mrs Place and their family and also with the owner of the local ‘store’, where you could get almost anything from a needle to an anchor!

As Buntingville is only 9 miles from Umtata and the road is a fairly good one though not tarred, we used to go fairly often into the town. There was a family in Umtata with whom we were very friendly, the Jouberts, and whenever we went into Umtata we used to go to see them. My work now was much easier than it had ever been before, so Margery decided that she would get a post in that town, not only to earn some money but also to take our younger son to school there every school day. Our older son Christopher was already in the College of Music in the University of Cape Town. We soon had to move Anthony, our younger son, into another school, as he suffered from asthma, so he was sent to St Andrew’s School in Bloemfontein.

I had no responsibility over the hostels in the institution so I could take part in more of the extra-mural activities.

There was no Scout troop their so I started one, and much enjoyed doing so. Also I could play more tennis than before, in the could where all the staff members enjoyed their games. On Sunday mornings we all attended the services taken by Mr Place, and in the evening Margery and I used to go to Umtata, she to the flourishing Anglican Church there and I to the struggling Presbyterian Church, where I was soon inducted as an elder, and soon afterwards as the Session Clerk. One of the duties of the Session Clerk was to see to it that there was somebody to take the services each Sunday and, as the congregation was far too small and poor to have its own minister this was quite a tussle. There was a retired Presbyterian minister who lived in Umtata and he used to do most of the preaching, and a ‘Wee Free’ minister out from Scotland whose prime task was mission work among the Blacks, and he also was willing and able to help. But it often happened that neither of these gentlemen was able to do so and it fell on me to fill the gap. We were a small congregation and had a small church, so we were blessed if there were twenty or more worshippers at any service. There were only two other elders, thus our Session was small; but each of us pulled his weight and so everything that had to be done was done.


Mealies (corn) in a field we used to go walking through most afternoons.

Mealies (corn) in a field we used to go walking through most afternoons.

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