The Grand Old Man of Harrismith

  • Stewart Bain was born in Wick, Scotland on 9 September 1854;
  • He came to South Africa in 1878, and trekked on to the metropolis of Harrismith in the Orange River Colony;
  • He married Janet Burley, who predeceased him in 1924;
  • Became Mayor of the town and ‘reigned’ for years, becoming known as ‘The Grand Old Man of Harrismith’;
  • He pushed for the building of a very smart town hall. Some thought it was way too fancy – and too expensive – and called it “Bain’s Folly” (shades of our Moses Mabida stadium in Durban for 2010 – “Do we need such a fancy stadium!?”).

He died in 1939 and the town pulled out the stops for his funeral; The pictures were taken from the balcony of his Royal Hotel.

Oupa's bible and Grandpa Bain's funeral

Stewart Bain 1939.jpg

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I thought I remembered that, despite every dorp in South Africa seeming to boast a ‘Royal Hotel’, the Harrismith Royal Hotel was one of only two that could officially call itself ‘Royal’. Sheila has hereby confirmed that I have a flawless memory; Well, something along those lines:

Royal Hotel article

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Here’s a close-up so enthusiasts can read which cars were around in 1939:

1939 Sept. Funeral of Stewart Bain Harrismith

Author: bewilderbeast

It's about life, marriage, raising kids, paddling rivers, travel in Africa . . . re-posting thoughts written over decades - at random, I'm afraid.

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