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History Timeline

The Early Years

Starting an entirely new industry and a very profitable one in Natal for many years....

He had no capital but nevertheless took up a lease on 160 acres of land (which was one of the Mount Moreland lots south of King Shaka International Airport.)

He experimented with a number of crops, and in 1864 moved to Kearsney, where he had leased a block of some 600 acres of land, planting crops such as maize, sweet potatoes, chillies, arrow-root and later coffee. The latter proved to be the best of the crops but its success was somewhat short-lived when the crop was devastated by borer and rust disease.

At Kearsney, Liege Hulett built a beautiful colonial style home together with his own chapel, and this became the social and religious centre of the community. It was also used as a place of refuge during the Bambata rebellion.

In 1906 the original chapel was replaced by a more substantial building, which today is a National Monument. His next venture was into the growing and production of tea in 1878, starting an entirely new industry and a very profitable one in Natal for many years.

Tea Growing

It was to be the basis on which the Hulett Company was founded. Two factories were built, one on the farm Kearsney and the other at Sibton Hill, and in 1915/16 the two Hulett factories produced nearly 1,5 million pounds of tea of good quality. This tea was a valuable export earner a leading brand in the local market.

With the assumption by Natal of Responsible Government in 1893, things began to happen with Liege Hulett in his political and business careers. Encouraged by what he believed to be the great future open to the sugar industry, particularly in Zululand , he had already in the previous year, consolidated his interests into the company J L Hulett & Sons with a capital of 50 000 pounds and headquarters at Kearsney. The company which took over the Kearsney, Kirkley Vale and Bulwer Tea Estates also incorporated four other farms; Melrose, Sibton Hill, Sprowston and Kirkley Vale which had been owned privately by his four sons Albert, William, James and Edward.

The estates covered some 9 193 acres and included in the assets of the company were plant, machinery, livestock, stocks of tea and the personal business of Liege Hulett as a going concern as from 30 June, 1892. The objectives of the company were " to carry on in Natal or elsewhere, the business of tea growers, farmers, planters or any other business or matter concerned with agriculture in any form, shape or way that the company deemed necessary."