Farm History 

Three Valleys

The farm itself is one of the original Settler allocations and has been farmed by different families over the past 180 years.

The Harris family promulgated the conservation effort in 2007 by converting pineapple cropping land into pasture. This effort is the primary reason for the beauty that greets visitors today. The current tenants continue this vision for a truly authentic African experience.  

A key attraction on the farm is the historic Weymouth Mill, an old steam-powered grain mill, believed to have been built on a site utilised by the Afrikaner Voortrekkers before the arrival of the 1820 Settlers. Due to the Mill pre-dating the Grahamstown records, it is assumed to be over 200 years old. This lovely piece of history was converted into the farm's guest house in 2010.  

When the 1820 Settlers arrived in the area they added the second storey to the original structure of the grain Mill, originally built by Afrikaner Voortrekkers. However, one of the first families based on the farm struggled to make a living from agriculture and got involved with trade transport from Lower Albany to Kimberley.

 

When Albert Warner Staples and his family moved to Weymouth in 1888, the Mill had already become a ruin. The family leased the farm from Donald McKay until 1892. Initially, they moved into the other small structure on the property – the Miller’s Cottage – whilst they renovated the Mill . Later, they built around the Miller’s Cottage, which became the pantry of what was then known as the ‘main house’.

 

Their son, Orville Franklin, was to inherit the farm thereafter, and when he married Grace, they moved into the Mill together. Franklin Staples was known to be a very progressive farmer for his time, and bought additional land (North Bend and The Home) to further his agricultural prospects by growing citrus and pineapples, as well as farming cattle. He was one of the first farmers to put pumps into the farm’s cliff face in order to pump water. 

Franklin and Grace’s five children (in order of oldest to youngest): Yvonne, Berty, Ruby, Bunny, Agnes and Elaine grew up in the Mill. They used to cycle from Weymouth to Langholm Primary School, and moved off the farm when they went to boarding school, for high school, in Grahamstown.

 Berty had a passion for farming and, being the eldest son, was to inherit the farm from his father. Sadly, during World War II, Berty, who was a pilot, was killed in action whilst serving in Italy. Hence, running the family farm became Bunny’s obligation. Bunny had always wanted to be an engineer and although he ran a successful agricultural endeavour, his heart was more invested in the vintage car collection he had going in the back shed of the farm.

Out of the five children, all have passed away except for the youngest, Elaine, who lives in Port Elizabeth today. In a recent interview about the farm and its history, Elaine told us one (of the many) fond memories she had growing up in the Mill

 

“We, the kids, used to sleep at the top floor of the Mill, and were not too impressed by our early bedtime. The flooring had holes in it from old piping and the one night Yvonne, my eldest sister, tickled the top of my dad’s head with a feather duster, as he sat by the fire downstairs, and then dropped it on him, from the top floor”

 

Bunny eventually sold the farm to Colin and Daphne Smithers in 1980, who continued pineapple farming on the property and who lived in the 'main house'.  In 1985, Colin asked his young neighbour, and promising pineapple grower, Mark Harris, to manage his farm. It was this joint venture that resulted in the formation of Langholm Farms (Pty) Ltd in 1988. In 1995, the company bought Weymouth Farm from the Colin Smithers Trust and, in 1996, Mark, his wife Anne and daughters Jessica and Amy moved into the main house on the property. 

In 2015, at the renowned annual Bathurst Agricultural Show, the current owners put in an offer to purchase Weymouth from Colin and Mark. The sale went through later that year, and the current owners then began their endeavours to create what is today known as Three Valleys Wildlife and Nature Reserve.

The Mill in 2008

The arrival of the fist giraffe to the farm in 2008

The 'Middle Shed' was taken down in 2008, when the initial conversion to game farming had begun, and Langholm Farms' primary pineapple base had moved across the road, to Prospect Farm.

Three Valleys

Wildlife & Nature Reserve

R67 Main Road, 

Bathurst, 6166

Website Designed by: Amy Harris