Murray’s Hotel, Old Main Road, Pinetown
The first photo shows Murray’s Hotel in 1870 on a prime site on the Old Main Road, which was the main route from Durban to the interior. It was owned by Archibald Keith Murray, one of early Pinetown’s most important founders.
With his wife and five small children, AK Murray sailed from Glasgow on the Ina in November, 1849, arriving in Durban in March, 1850. He bought 1 361 acres of the farm Salt River and not long after built a house for his family. This site in Park Lane, known as Fort Funk, was where he built Pinetown’s first hotel, The Wayside Inn. It was also Murray who named Pinetown in honour of Natal’s second Lieutenant-Governor Benjamin Pine.
In 1857, Murray sold the Wayside Inn to Canon John Crompton, who built St Andrew’s Anglican Church in 1870. Meanwhile, Murray built his second hotel a few hundred metres up the road. It is this second hotel, which he named Murray’s, in the first photo.
In the 1960s, the hotel was demolished. Today, Murray Square, seen in the second photo taken in December 2020, occupies the site.
Murray went on to build another hotel at 153 Old Main Road, now Josiah Gumede Road, in 1871. After he sold it in 1879, it was known as Turners and then the Palmiet Hotel. Destroyed by fire in 1889 it was rebuilt and named the Rugby Hotel.
By then Murray had died in London in 1881. He and his wife eventually had 13 children. One of his sons, Sir Thomas Keir Murray, born in Pinetown in 1854, was knighted for his services to the Natal government. He had been Minister of Lands and Works, Colonial Secretary in 1897, and during the Anglo-Boer War had raised and commanded Murray’s Horse in 1899 and Murray’s Scouts the following year. He later served as chairman of the Natal Turf Club and President of the Natal Rugby Union.
The Independent on Saturday