In 1866, the first governor of Natal, Martin West, established the first European settlement at Mooi River Drift, close to the present day site of Mooi River. Named after the statesman, the area was originally known as Weston. In 1879, an Irishman, Alexander Lawrence, purchased the farm Grantleigh, and it was on this tract of land up-stream from Weston where the present day site of Mooi River was established.
When the railway line was laid in 1884, the line that ran from Johannesburg to Durban ran through Lawrence’s farm and the village that was formed around the site was named Lawrenceville. In 1921, the village was renamed Mooi River and declared a town. The town was credited with the name due to being situated on the banks of the Mooi River – meaning “beautiful river”.
A mere 40 minute drive from Giant’s Castle in the central Drakensburg the town has become an integral part of the well-known Midlands Meander route and also houses two of the finest and if not unique then certainly unusual educational facilities in KwaZulu-Natal.
Treverton Preparatory School and College is a private educational institution which was established in the area by Sir Henry Binns in 1937. The school caters for girls and boys from grade R to grade 12. The establishment is set on a 270-hectares estate and boasts an equestrian and wildlife centre.
The estate incorporates a large variety of ecosystems, wetlands, grasslands, rocky outcrops, spring dams and indigenous forests. In 2000, the school erected a game fence around the estate and the Treverton Wildlife Area was established. The school is proud to be the first natural wildlife and game area in South Africa entirely managed by school pupils and staff under the guidance of experts in the field.
Weston Agricultural College was established in Mooi River in 1914 and is one of the finest agricultural schools in South Africa. The school caters for boys from grade 8 to grade 12 and is set on 1200ha of farmland. The school that has an outstanding academic record also offers learners hands-on, practical experience in a genuine agricultural setting. At this stage 11 farming enterprises are currently being run on the school’s estate.
The beautiful location of the town as well as the schooling facilities available in the area appear to act as a draw card to buyers. Lightstone Property statistics reveal that there have been a total of 84 property transfers in the area in the last 12 months.
According to the statistics released by the group, the highest price paid for a property in the area was R1m. Price averages came in at R253 000 for freehold property and the average price paid for a sectional title unit was R295 000. The demographics reflect that 86.95 percent of owners have resided in the area for longer than 11 years and 78 percent of recent sellers have resided in the area for longer than 11 years.
Price averages have declined somewhat in the last two to three years; however, sales volumes have increased substantially since in the last 12 months with a total of 77 transfers registered in 2011, compared to 24 transfers in 2010.