A few weeks ago my family and I went to Richmond for the weekend and on the way home stopped in at Baynesfield Museum. Set in beautiful grounds, with a Victorian house as its centerpiece, the Museum is a fascinating place with various buildings and sheds housing all sorts of different things. The estate was founded by Joseph Baynes in 1863 and after he died in 1925, leaving no heirs, the estate was left in trust for all South Africans to enjoy.
Baynes House, built in 1882 from Pietermaritzburg red brick, has a sweeping set of 20 stairs leading up to the verandah and front door – it really is beautiful and one can imagine sitting on that verandah enjoying a gin and tonic in the afternoon! The Camelia bushes on each side of the staircase were planted by Joseph Baynes and his wife second wife Sarah, and they still flower to this day. The house still has many of the original pieces of furniture – it really is well worth a visit.
The estate is made up of six different museums. The Dairy Museum is housed in the first butter factory in Natal. The factory was established in 1899 and with its beautiful black and white check floor; it also hosts a Kitchen Musuem. On display here are many interesting and for the time, innovative kitchen appliances!
The now fully restored, first refrigeration room in South Africa is where one will find the Natal Vintage Tractor and Machinery Club Museum. The Garden Museum has a large selection of old gardening tools while in an adjacent building is the Hobbies Museum. Although still under construction the Hobbies Museum has probably the best collection of sewing machines in South Africa.
The Wood Crafting Museum, blacksmith shop and radio shack are all found in the homestead where Joseph and his first wife Maria lived.
Events are held at Baynesfield throughout the year. When we visited last Month the Vintage Baynesfield Hobbies Fair was on. The estate was buzzing with people showing off vintage cars, tractors, engines of all kinds and wood working. There were ‘steam train’ rides for the kids and a market selling anything from fresh vegetables to beautiful dresses.
Other events are Baynesfield Music in May, Vintage Baynesfield Time Marches on in June, the Vintage Baynesfield Visual Delights in October and the Vintage Baynesfield Christmas Market in December.
Contact Details & Tour Info
Tours through Baynes house are available during the week (on request). The museums are open from 08h30 to 16h00 Monday to Friday. It is however advisable to call before visiting. Contact the museum on +27 (0)33 251-0001 to arrange your tour.
See more photographs from the Baynesfield Museum (click on the thumbnail to enlarge the photographs):