Owen and Dorothy Leach
(Ancedotes from the Leach Diary)
In 1927 Fleischer Cottage was built and named after family friends from Johannesburg, who frequently visited the Leaches at Cwebeni. They were so taken with the picturesque location that they offered to build a Fisherman’s Cottage, now known as bungalow no 9, on the small ridge overlooking the sea and the river. This cottage and subsequent cottages were built by Percy van der Bijl, who was Owen Leach’s resident builder and maintenance advisor, and the Fleischer Cottage was let to friends and acquaintances when the Fleischer were not ‘in house’. This prompted Owen to build several more Fisherman’s cottages in 1929.
The demand for accommodation grew until in 1932 and Owen decided to build a boarding house with the help of a Mr Berry. The rectangular building housed a small kitchen, dining room and a lounge. Alongside this were six bedrooms that led out onto a long veranda. In 1936 the boarding house was expanded and a generator was installed to provide electricity.
Owen Leach was a very keen fisherman and was always available to accompany guests on fishing outings. Gillies were hired to collect bait and assist enthusiastic fisherman who often spent the night out fishing at one of the many favourite points or gullies nearby, Brazenhead being one of the more popular.
World War II
With the outbreak of the second world war, the Leach boys, Brian, Basil and Ronald all signed up to do their duty for their country. Ronald was killed in action and only Brian and Basil returned home to Umngazi. During the war years Owen and Dorothy kept the boarding house going and added several more bungalows. As geusts from all parts of the country returned on a regular basis, Umngazi’s reputation as a family a resort and fishing destination grew.
During these years, the trading store was still the main source of income. Originally situated overlooking the river where bungalow’s 16 and 17 stand today, it was later moved to near the back gate behind the Leach Homestead to make way for more accommodation.