This cottage, originally the home of Eugene O’Neil, was used as a hospital for British soldiers during the Battle of Majuba. Calley’s successor, General Sir Evelyn Wood, signed an arrnlstice with Joubert on 6 March 1881 at O’Neil’s cottage in the foothills of Majuba. This was followed by a peace treaty on 21 March 1881 signed at Hilldrop house, Newcastle and later the Pretoria Convention which was signed in October 1881. This convention was never wholly acceptable to the Boers and contained the seeds of further disputes, which led to the Anglo Boer War in 1899.
The discovery of diamonds in Griqualand West in 1867 and gold in the Eastern Transvaal in the early 1870’s brought a dramatic change in the way the Colonial Office in London perceived South Africa. A promised source of untold mineral wealth and abundant labour, if only the political map could be unified under the Union Jack, similar to that of Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Reality however existed out of two separate British colonies, two independent Boer republics and a scattering of black African states such as the Gcaleka Xhosa, the Basotho, the Griqua of southern Natal, the Pedi and the Zulu.