The idea of 'reconstruction' is now well established in the historiography of South African planning. Particular attention has been paid to 'reconstructionist planning': during and immediately after World War; in the apartheid era; and, in the recent context of post-apartheid development. The centenary celebrations of the Anglo-Boer South African War (1899–1902) are, however, directing attention to the programme for the reconstruction of the previous Boer republics that was initiated by the imperialist proconsul, Lord Milner, and is the subject of ongoing controversy. Natal was not a direct target of Milner's programme but the aftermath of conflict in this British colony was linked to important socio-economic and spatial transformations. The idea of 'town planning' was only in an embryonic form at the time but 'post-war reconstruction' in Natal included interventions in the shaping of urban and rural space that provided the basis for future programmes of reconstruction and planning, including that of racial ordering under apartheid. For example, the system that developed in Durban to finance the construction and administration of segregated municipal housing for Africans was later exported to the rest of South Africa and became a major feature of the National Party's programme of 'township development'.