A fort was built in 1847 to guard the fording place over the Bushman River staging point on the road from Pietermaritzburg to the north.

Shopkeepers, blacksmiths and innkeepers were attracted to the area and in 1863 the growing town was named after Thomas Escourt, an English parliamentarian who had promoted immigration to Natal.

With ample water from the Wagendrift Dam, 5km upstream, Estcourt has become a substantial town with a farmers' co-operative sausage and meat packing plant, a milk canning and drying plant and a hardboard factory.

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