Diluted by history: the extraordinary endeavour of the Winterton Irrigation Settlement

Whelan, Deborah (2015) Diluted by history: the extraordinary endeavour of the Winterton Irrigation Settlement. In: South African Historical Society Biennial Conference, 2-4 July 2015, Stellenbosch.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Presentation)
Item Status:Live Archive


Between Winterton and Colenso in the Drakensberg foothills of KwaZulu – Natal exists evidence of an extraordinary endeavour. An irrigation furrow which runs some 30km roughly parallel to the Little Tugela River is testimony to post - Anglo Boer War politics in the Colony of Natal, as much as an attempt to remedy a drastic shortage of food - producing lands.

This furrow was dug as part of a series of earlier and similar such developments, providing agricultural infrastructure in order that the Colony could mitigate the adverse impact of the large Boer cattle farms which had limited food production, by being able to offer smaller tracts of land to ‘different classes of farmers’. This tactic intended to diversify crop production and minimise the import of fresh goods.

This paper will begin by describing the political imperatives that led to the legislated declaration of the Winterton Irrigation Settlement, before relating more closely the means by which access to the lands on which it was situated was achieved, and the terms by which tenure was granted. It will conclude by describing the struggle for the implementation of basic riparian infrastructure which by today’s standards is a microcosm of a larger infrastructural landscape.

Keywords:Irrigation settlement, infrastructure history, social history
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V253 Southern African History
H Engineering > H990 Engineering not elsewhere classified
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Architecture & Design > School of Architecture & Design (Architecture)
ID Code:29038
Deposited On:02 Nov 2017 14:50

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