SOLD: Crown Land, on behalf of her Majesty, Queen Victoria, by His Excellency Sir Walter Francis Hely-Hutchinson, Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. Michael and St. George, to Job Portsmouth on the 8th day of October 1891 for the sum of Twenty Five pounds, two shillings and sixpence. See the original signed deed still at the hotel today.
A portion of the farm was later sold to Charles Cusworth who built ‘The Coach Inn’ in 1892. Soon after the railway line reached Van Reenen. The Inn was a humble kitchen and dining area, with wood and iron chalets, built on the original transport wagon route to Natal.
The South African Railways built houses for their employees, and even a school in the area to accommodate the sudden growth of the population in Van Reenen. A number of small trading stores were established by Indian families from the Ladysmith district. The Patel’s original shop still exists in the main street. Some of the original houses still stand in the village.
On the declaration of the Anglo Boer War on the 12th October 1899 the Cusworths vacated the hotel on the last train headed to Ladysmith. The Hotel was commandeered by the British Army & became known as ‘The Van Reenen Hotel’.
In 1902 after the war, Cusworth was paid two thousand pounds as compensation by John Thomas. They extended it by adding a small hall next to the kitchen and introduced ‘no children allowed silent movies’ on one of the first film projectors in the country. The original projector box is still in the hall today.
1932 Mr Bill Irvine and his partner Mr Lancaster purchased the hotel, they were responsible for the now famous Halfway Noggin Pub. In 1938 Cecil Osborne purchased the hotel and added a new double story block of bedrooms.
In 1948 Mr Osborne renamed the hotel ‘The Green Lantern Inn’ after the large green lantern that was hung from a pole at the top of the new pass. This was used to indicate to motorists that they had reached the summit, especially in the heavy mist that Van Reenen is known for.
By its 100th anniversary the hotel was neglected and run down and was sold by public auction to Mrs Barbara Roos and her daughter, who after just over a year sold it to Tony and Anne Hazeldine. Maria & Lew Harris joined them in running it until 1996 when Tony and Anne left. Maria and Lew managed the hotel for 21 years, the longest tenure at the hotel. Maria introduced the famous ‘Mamma Maria’s sticky Oxtail’ which is still highly recommended today.
In 2012 the Green Lantern was sold to Bill and Gail Ross-Adams who currently own the 127 year old hotel. It has been renovated to accommodate over 90 people, and the rooms have been updated to be en suite with modern heating, air conditioning. The hotel is still a favourite meeting place for weddings, parties and reunions, and a much loved halfway stop.