Coal mining began in this area in the early 1860’s. Peter Smith had found coal on his farm “Dundee” in 1864 and his neighbour, E. Howe Pascoe, had also begun mining operations on “Coalfields”. Many people were attracted to the mines and the need for a town was soon being discussed.
E. Howe Pascoe died in 1875 and his widow remarried. Her second husband, George Sutton, had a township surveyed and planned on the farm “Coalfields” in 1882. This he called “Dundee”. He sold his interests to Frederick Still, who developed the township.
Peter Smith was persuaded by his son, William Craighead Smith and by Dugald MacPhail and Charles Willson, to establish a town as well. 1000 acres of “Dundee” farm was used for this purpose, with additional donations of land from William Craighead Smith, Dugald MacPhail and Charles Willson. This township was called “Dundee Proper”. Both townships were proclaimed in 1882. Two years later, in 1884 the Government established “Dundee Extension”.
Thus, until 1896, when the joint townships achieved Borough status, Dundee was divided into three parts: “Dundee”, “Dundee Proper” and “Dundee Extension”. Powerful businessmen brought capital into the small mining town, which developed so rapidly and in such style that it became known as “Coalopolis” and the “Capital” of Northern Natal. It boasted many fine public buildings, splendid churches and – thanks to its mining magnates – electricity! Before the Anglo-Boer War, Dundee grew at a phenomenal rate.