West St, Durban, 1874
In its Report for the year 1879 (the year of the Anglo-Zulu War) the Natal Land & Immigration Board stated:
'During the first quarter of the year 1879 owing doubtless to the disturbed state of South Africa, only four immigrants arrived in this Colony under the auspices of the Land and Immigration Board. During the latter part of the year however the number of arrivals rapidly increased to a monthly average of nearly 31 souls, the total number during the whole year being 287. In addition to those who arrived, approved applications for 340 more persons were sent to England during the latter half of the year, and of these 72 had arrived up to February 16 1880. The total number of applications received by the Board during 1879 was 300, being 165 in excess of those received in 1878.
In all cases where free passages are granted by the Board the nominee is under engagement of service for a period of not less than one year or more than three years at the rate of wages current in the Colony, according to trade. This arrangement has been found to work very well, so much so that in some cases immigrants who came to the Colony under this system are now in their turn employers of labour introduced in the same manner.
In November last a special agent, Mr J E Methley, proceeded to England, by direction of the Board, to select 32 families to be located on the farm ‘Wilgefontein’ [Willowfountain] purchased by the Board in 1878 for the purpose of forming a special agricultural settlement in the vicinity of Pietermaritzburg. This farm 5 500 acres in extent has been subdivided in the manner specified in Government Notice No 257 of 1878 and it is expected that the immigrants will be located on this settlement in June next.
Several proposals have been received … from Missionary Societies and others with the view of forming German, Norwegian and other settlements.'
The Willowfountain settlers were to arrive on the Nyanza 12 July 1880.