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Midlands Meander - Then & Now

Young Rob stood, shuffling from foot to foot, impatient with his parents Helen and Andy Shuttleworth who were with their crafter friends, posing for a picture next to the big water wheel of the Mill at Caversham, in the Natal Midlands. Eventually, the blonde six-year old grew bored and sat on the ground. The photograph was taken. Behind Rob were his parents, the Shuttleworths, who were weavers; Robin and Joy Standing, potters; Ian Glenny and Kali Griffin, potters; Wim, a painter and Tina de Roubaix, a batik artist; Leonie Malherbe and Lindsay Scott, potters and David and Michelle Walters, also potters.

Little did young Rob Shuttleworth know that that picture taken in 1995, one of two taken of the original founders of the Midlands Meander, would become iconic. David’s sister, Jenny Hobbs, the author and journalist, wrote an article about the founding of the Midlands Meander to go with that picture … and that picture would go around the world.

In time, the Midlands Meander would grow to just under a hundred and fifty member businesses and become one of South Africa’s most beloved tourism routes. As David Walters put it in that original article in Travel Magazine in 1985, “Our Midlands Meander Art and Craft Route has two aims - to persuade people to stop over and enjoy our beautiful part of the world. The N3 becomes a race-track during holiday periods, and a journey break means rest, relaxation and safer driving. Secondly, times are hard for everyone, and shops and galleries [in the cities] are charging very high commission on exhibitions.”

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