Sir Marshall Campbell: Biography

Marshall Campbell Marshall Campbell was only two years old when he first arrived in Durban with his parents, William John and Agnes Campbell. They had sailed from Glasgow, Scotland on the "Conquering Hero", which, after a voyage of 90 days, dropped anchor off Durban on the 28th June 1850. The Campbells were settlers under the Byrne emigration scheme, whereby between 1849 and 1851 some 2 500 people, mainly from England and surrounds, came to Natal.

At this time Durban consisted of a few scattered dwellings, mostly of wattle and daub. According to Angas in The Kaffirs Illustrated (1849), it was ' no unusual occurrence to meet the recent traces of elephants, or to catch a glimpse of the leopard's spotted hide '. Durban had been first settled in 1824 and was officially named in 1835 after the then governor of the Cape Colony, Sir Benjamin D'Urban. When the settlement was proclaimed a borough in 1854, the population totalled 1204.

Soon after the arrival of the family in Durban, Marshall's father obtained a contract to build the North Pier. Then he bought land north of the town, on the Umhloti River, and called his farm ' Muckle Neuk ' meaning 'great bend'. At the time of his death in 1865, aged 44, he had established himself as a leading sugar cane planter and miller. Marshall too became involved in producing sugar and eventually, in 1895, floated Natal Estates Limited, which two years later established South Africa's first refinery. This company went on to play a leading role in the Natal sugar industry.

Marshall married Ellen Blamey in 1877 and they settled at Mount Edgecombe, where they raised their four children. As a leading businessman, Marshall was drawn into public life and became a member of the Natal Legislative Council. Later he was appointed Senator for Natal and in 1915 he was knighted for his services to the country. He served on various commissions and was a tribal councillor of the Amaqadi people.

A large township on the northern outskirts of Durban is named after Marshall Campbell. It is called Kwa Mashu, meaning in the Zulu tongue, 'the place of Marshall'. An interesting aside is that he was involved in 1892 with the introduction of the rickshaw, which has subsequently become one of Durban's most distinctive tourist attractions.