The farm originally owned by artist and author, Gustav Preller, was named from two Zulu words; Phela, meaning 'the end' and ndaba, meaning 'the affair'.
The reason for this name, 'the end of the affair' was that the Hartbeespoort Dam was planned and when completed would submerge most of the farm beneath its waters.
The Atomic Energy Board, formed in 1949, purchased 1 195 ha of the higher ground of this farm for the creation of an atomic research centre. Here an advanced programme in the development of nuclear fuels is under way. Radio isotopes are made in the reactor and supplied to industry, medicine and agriculture. Enriched uranium is also produced.