A brief history of Hilldrop B&B and the Welsh Family.
The story actually began long before Hilldrop when Douglas’s grandfather Harry sold up Glenfarg House in Scotland and immigrated to Durban, South Africa. Shortly thereafter, Roy, Douglas’s father, was appointed to His Majesty’s Service in Kenya as the District administrator of the Tsavo area which meant many days out visiting all the rural areas in the district. Many places inaccessible by vehicle so it was done with packed donkeys with many losses to lions. At this time the family was based in Olengare, near Masai Mara Game reserve. The holidays were always on the coast near Mombassa.
The family finally settled in Durban, 1 Kloof Lane, on Fields Hill and opened the family business Gypsy Caravans at the foot of Fields Hill.
Over the following 20 years further moves included Port Elizabeth and Zimbabwe and of course 9 Hillroad, Newcastle was declared home in 1974 and has been developed by the family ever since.
In 1982, after the children had left for greener pastures, Dorothy refused to live in the big house alone so she started the B&B. It was in fact the first B&B in Newcastle. The empty stables were converted into two rooms (room 10 and 11) and an additional room was built (room 9). In the early days Dorothy was known for her great cooking and all the entertainment was around the dinner table in the main house, eventually it was built up to 7 rooms by including the 4 rooms upstairs in the house.
Sadly she had a stroke in 2003 and that was when Douglas and Julie returned to the family home and developed the business from the original 3 rooms outside to what it is today.
The stables behind the house are always a hive of activity and guests are welcome to go and visit the stables. Watching the horses work in the morning and afternoon can also be exciting when Michaela and her champion horse “Fast Buck” get going wit some 77 and some bucking displays.
Horses and Riding
The passion for horse riding was inherited as both Douglas’s parents rode, with his father winning a show jumping championship at the Rand Easter Show in 1942 and Douglas winning the same trophy in 1982. From small beginnings the riding has continued in the family with many great achievements – Julie representing KwaZulu Natal in 2005 and 2006, Jordan representing KwaZulu Natal in 2009 and 2010 and the Natal Champion for 2010 and culminating with Douglas representing South Africa at the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky USA in September 2010.
The other passion we have as a family that is evident in the decor of the rooms is our love for the bush. Douglas briefly retired from horse riding after the Barcelona Olympics and built a game lodge in the lowveld. Starting at Mark’s Camp in the Klasie Game Reserve and then to Kambaku Lodge in the Timbavati Game Reserve. This passion turned into big business until the last project Gonarezhou Lodge in Zimbabwe was repossessed by Bob Mugabe’s “war vets” just two months after opening to the public. The passion brought with it many exciting times on walking trails in the Timbavati with many occasions being chased by lions and elephants and on one occasion an elephant putting Douglas in hospital for two months with many broken bones.
The story does not end there, because now the attention is focussed on Botswana and “Heading South Safari’s” which does luxury overland-tented safaris. Now a veteran of close to 40 safaris through Botswana, Douglas cant wait for the next trip after spending almost 6 months in France and USA preparing for the World Games.
Julie grew up in the Eastern Cape and her family was pineapple farming and all her childhood holidays were spent at their cottage on the beach at the Fish River, hence the beach style rooms 5 and 6. Fortunately for Julie for the next few years family beach holidays were replacing the bush holidays due to our recent addition, 2 year old Jamie and the threat of Malaria.