Welgelegen Manor is the embodiment of the incredible life and ambition of industrialist and innovator, Andries Mostert.
Andries Mostert was born in Paarl in 1868 – but due to bad health, was schooled in Beaufort West. As a teenager, he began his working career in Kimberley, working for his brother who owned a butcher shop. But Andries knew his destiny was not in this family business, He wanted a chance to build real wealth and reclaim the much loved but lost Mostert Family Estates of Rondebosch, Cape Town.
His grandfather had sadly gone bankrupt when the dreaded vine disease, Pheloxera, ravaged the family estate vines and was forced to sell off the land which included a beautiful house named Welgelegen. Andries’ great ideal was to see his family back in their family seat – so he set off for Barberton to mine gold and build a future.
Discovering that the life of a miner was a difficult and low-paid one, he joined his brother at the Ferreiras Camp (Johannesburg) to build the railway line from Braamfontein to Elandsfontein. This resulted in him forming the A M Mostert Construction Company. This company went on to build many famous landmarks, including the Church Plain Pretoria, a canal in Doornfontein and numerous reservoirs – while he also sub-contracted on the Union Buildings. Now earning real money, he saw that his ancestral home ‘Welgelegen’ was for sale – but unfortunately he was outbid to it by Cecil John Rhodes who decided to renovate the house ‘for the premiers of the future’ – using architect Sir Herbert Baker.
Although he never realised his dream fortune fell on Mostert in other ways. In 1911 he bought the land between Balfour and Nigel and called the farm Rietbult Estate. The first thing he developed was a grand orchard and in 1912 he commissioned the famed architect, Sir Herbert Baker, to build a house in the same style as the lost family house. He named it Welgelegen in memory and is today as much as then, a symbol of his passionate commitment to preserving the heritage of a bygone era.