Baynesfield Estate Museum
Located in the picturesque Natal Midlands of South Africa, Baynesfield Estate was established in 1863 by Joseph Baynes. This interesting man played a vital role in the development and history of the area and this fascinating museum provides some insight into the man and his operations.
Before we explore the museum, let us have a closer look into the life of Joseph Baynes. Born in March of 1842 in Yorkshire, Joseph accompanied his father to the Natal colony when he was eight years of age. He became an excellent agriculturalist, and after applying himself to his work he was able to purchase the farms that now make up Baynesfield Estate. During his lifetime, Baynes decided to tackle the problem of East Coast Fever, promoting the use of dipping tanks in the dairy cattle industry. Amongst his many achievements was the pioneering of South Africa’s dairy industry, aiding in securing the bacon curing industry, bringing Durban an organised milk and butter industry and playing a role in the contract which resulted in the creation of Maydon Wharf in Durban, thus doubling the harbour’s size. He also took on a number of different roles, including becoming chairman of the Indian Immigration Board, Minister of Land Affairs (1903 – 1904), Justice of Peace, Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George, representative of the Ixopo Division in the Natal Parliament (1880 – 1910) and was commissioned to the Legislative Council of the Colony. Joseph Baynes passed away at the age of 83 and is buried alongside his wife, Sarah, at the mausoleum.
Joseph Baynes’ house and estate has been restored and can be viewed by the public on an appointment basis. What can you expect to see at the Baynesfield Estate Museum? Visitors may view the fascinating vintage steam engines that are still in working condition. In fact, the headquarters of the Natal Vintage Tractor and Machinery Club is located in the original refrigeration room. Explore the first butter factory established in Natal in 1899. Also worth viewing in the Old Cheese Factory is an assortment of antique sewing machines. While in the Old Cheese Factory, visitors can check out the photographs of the Baynes House Gardens. There is also an interesting selection of Indian items exhibited. Inside the homestead visitors will discover a Blacksmith at work and the Antique Woodworkers Club. The restored Victorian house is constructed from red brick. Twenty steps, flanked by Camelia bushes, lead up to the porch. Inside you can view some original lounge furniture, though some items are on loan from the KwaZulu Natal Museum Service.