|The Legislature is situated in the Province of KwaZulu-Natal. It consists of 80 Members and sits in Pietermaritzburg.
The Legislative Buildings of Pietermaritzburg
The site where the legislative buildings are situated was occupied by St Mary's Church, which was built in the 1860's. A new church was built at the corner of Burger Street and Commercial Road, and opened in 1884. The old building was demolished in 1887 to provide space for the legislative complex. The foundation stone of the new legislative building was laid on 21 June 1887, to commemorate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. The building was completed two years later. On 25 April 1889, the Governor of Natal, Sir Arthur Havelock, opened the first Legislative Council session in the new building.
The Legislative Assembly Building.
When governance was granted to Natal in 1893, the new Legislative Assembly took over the chamber that was used by the Legislative Council since 1889. Further extensions to the parliamentary building were made. The building was unoccupied until 1902 when it was used without being officially opened, due to the fact that the country was engulfed in the Anglo-Boer war. The war also affected the Legislative Assembly, which had to move the venue of its sittings when the chamber was used as a military hospital.
The Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council buildings, both national monuments, formed a colonial Parliament of two houses: a Council of 11 nominated members and an Assembly of 37 elected members. The Natal Parliament was disbanded in 1910 when the Union of South Africa was formed, and the Assembly became the meeting place of the Natal Provincial Council. The Council was disbanded in 1986. Since then, the premises have been tenanted by civil servants. Committees of the former Tricameral Parliament occasionally used the chamber.
The Chamber, dating from 1889, is architecturally noteworthy.
The Chamber is architecturally noteworthy. The ceiling is made of yellowwood and completed in the Victorian herringbone style, with carved and fretted roses. The railings and pillars supporting the galleries are cast iron and were forged by W. McFarlane of Glasgow, the famous Victorian manufacturers who supplied decorative ironwork for so many South African buildings.
The carved wooden throne dominates the Chamber. On the canopy can be seen the royal coat-of-arms of Great Britain, and below this the Natal colonial coat-of-arms.
The carved wooden throne, canopy and dais are the most impressive pieces of furniture in the building. Originally it was used by the Speaker of the Natal Legislative Assembly. On the canopy is the Royal coat-of-arms of Great Britain. Below this is the Natal colonial coat-of-arms.
Items of Historical Interest
Statue of Queen Victoria
This statue is the same as the one which stands in Australia. The statue was created to commemorate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee.
The statue of Queen Victoria outside the Legislative Assembly in Pietermaritzburg.
Executive Committee Table
The Executive Committee of Natal before 1893 used the large, oval oak table displayed in the vestibule. It was also used by the Colonial Cabinet between 1893 and 1910, and by the Provincial Executive Committee from 1910 to 1973.
The table in the vestibule contains ancient Roman mosaic tiles in sheet iron casing. It is mounted on a carved English oak tripod base. It is an antique in its own right, as well as a replica of a Roman table.
On the walls of the vestibule are memorials to the second and third Prime Ministers of Natal, Harry Escombe and Sir Henry Binns. There is also a bust of Sir Henry Binns.
The vestibule contains a number of items of historical interest.
The showcase against the eastern wall contains several items of interest, including the ebony black rod, dress swords of the Speaker and Sergeant-at-arms of the Legislative Council, lace ruffles, shoe and breeches buckles, and the Great Seal and official Seal of the Natal Parliament.
The Members' Library contains the Statutes of South Africa and other reference works.
The cabinet against the western wall contains the visitors book with signatures of the British Royal Family on their visit to the Natal Provincial Council in 1947, the address given by King George VI on this occasion, three saucers used at the Government House in Pietermaritzburg and King's House in Durban during the reign of Queen Victoria, King Edward VII and King GeorgeV, and various items of glassware of the old Natal Parliament.
In the billiard room is a full size billiard table, score board and accessories, all of which are original furniture of the old Legislative Assembly.
Members' Reading Room
The Members' Reading Room, where the latest newspapers and publications are displayed, has many pieces of fine period furniture. On the walls are portraits of Zulu kings and early British settlers.
The Members' Reading Room.