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The story of Charles de Charmoy

From an orphan at the young age of 15 years, living in Mauritius, to a successful sugar farmer, land owner of 5,000 acres in Natal South Africa, hotelier, patriarch and a community minded man, who helped develop our beautiful stretch of north coast. Take a nearly empty purse, a generous amount of stubbornness and pride, a sense of adventure and, above all, the will to succeed, and there you have in a nutshell the story of Uncle Charles de Charmoy – my Grandfather – farmer, philosopher, survivor and the most flamboyant character of the rich sugar lands between Durban and the border of Zululand.

He was a sincere and simple man. He was also adventurous, courageous and filled with boundless enthusiasm for life. He was a pioneer in the Sugar industry and the much loved Patriarch of the extensive de Charmoy family of the North Coast. Like many pioneers in the early days of the sugar industry, he suffered many difficulties which he surmounted with courage and determination. He possessed unbounded energy and no disappointments could deflect him from any objectives he had set out to attain. He believed in work and up to the very last day of his life he never had an idle moment.

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"Charlie’s Pool"

He had previously bought 72 acres of land stretching from Thompsons Bay to Willard beach from Mr RW Thompson, HENCE THE NAME Thompsons Bay. He paid £3000(R6000) for this land. In 1962, with the help of his son Roland and his farm labourers, built the large and beautiful Thompson’s Bay Tidal Pool for the community, and named it “ Charlie’s Pool”. The pool is 350ft long and 100ft wide. It took seven weeks and about 2,000 pockets of cement to build.

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In 1969, he sold 32 acres to Anglo American for £10 000(R20 000) per acre = £32 000 OR R640 000 in total. This land is where “Santorini” now stands. Marie (his youngest daughter) and her husband Michel also built their first cottage at Thompsons Bay that year and with as much gusto and hospitality as their benefactor – Charles, they opened up their cottage. “Our friends would arrive in droves at weekends. Everyone would share their food and play games of volleyball and talk. It was an unofficial French Club, which established a tradition of hospitality amongst our family and community,” said Marie.

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In 1993, his daughters Noelle and Marie, and on behalf of his eldest son Roland, who passed away in 1993 and his second son Cyril, who was killed tragically near Tongaat, in 1987. erected a plaque inscribed “CHARLIE’S POOL” in his loving memory.

In order to give their children the opportunity that Charles gave them to enjoy the beautiful stretch of beach known as Thompsons Bay, Marie and Michel decided to demolish their cottage and erect a complex now known as MARICHEL. Each one of their seven children were given the opportunity to purchase an apartment. Marichel 4 was purchased by Elaine, their 5th child and is now giving many people the same appreciation for this area.

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Long Live the Memory of the man that made it all possible – My Grandfather – Charles De Charmoy
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