Due to its location being close to industrial townships of Pinetown and Durban, Mariannhill has attracted people from around the province of KwaZulu Natal who are seeking employment. This has led to the development and growth of several townships in Mariannhill, i.e. Mpola, Thornwood, Dassenhoek, Tshelimnyama, Mariannridge, KwaMamdekazi, St Wendolins, etc.
In 1909 the St. Francis College was founded in Mariannhill, combining a boys’ school and a girls’ school that had operated since the mid/late 1880s. One of its prominent faculty was the Zulu writer and poet Benedict Wallet Vilakazi.