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