My late father in law, Arch Black was born in Durban in 1914. He went to Redhill Primary followed by DHS, then with the noted A.S. Langley as Head. He worked for the City Engineers Dept. till he retired having joined after being demobbed in 1945. He died in Durban in 1982. Arch was always very fond of his “home town” often remarking of the changes he had seen in Durban in his lifetime. Between 1960 and 1975, Arch started a collection of scrap books filled with cuttings from the Durban newspapers. I am in possession of these books today and they recall many incidents pertaining to Durban probably now long forgotten. Being a young adult then, they are also of my time and probably most of you Durbanites now in your mid sixties. So let’s recall the past and see if you recall what happened or was happening in 1961, 50 long years ago.
I will be brief in my notes so here goes. Arch did not paste dates so these may not be in date order but knowing him, they would have been in some sequential order. He posted pictures of people he knew so where personalities are indicated he would have had some contact with them. Italics are my remarks.
Arch opened 1961 with part of the page below. I post it to remind ourselves of the late Jock Leyden’s skill as a cartoonist. Oh that he could record today’s history, he would have had a field day. Who remembers Wilbur, Jock’s daily commentator? Wilbur appeared in the Daily News every evening with some quip or remark on the day’s highlight. I have an idea in this cartoon it is Jock’s family celebrating, the young boy in front being his son, who in later years was depicted now and then in a Marist Brothers striped blazer. Click on picture to enlarge.
Gordon Rowe and Harry Fisher won the 1961 Maritzburg Durban Canoe Marathon.
A fire destroyed a building in Gardiner Street which housed if I remember correctly Fletcher’s Mart, an auction house.
Mr Ken MacArthur was appointed Director of the Durban Publicity Association in succession to Mr Pat Sullivan. Later the same year Pat Sullivan was reappointed as Director of Durban Publicity.
Bruce Johnstone of Durban won the Fairfield 100 Motor race at Roy Hesketh Circuit in Pietermaritzburg.
The Springboks were on tour in the British Isles, Keith Oxlee of Natal, part of the touring team.
Sean Pitt-Kennedy of Durban, a member of the Durban Undersea Club, set a SA endurance record of remaining submerged in a water tank for 8 hours.
Mr Justice Williamson was appointed Judge President of Natal.
Councillor JC Bolton proposes to Council the building of a tunnel under the bay linking the City to the Bluff. The tunnel at the Bluff end would Y serving both ends of the Bluff. It probably will be built one day.
Michael Murphy a 15 year old Marist school boy was attacked by a shark at Amanzimtoti. He lost a leg in the attack.
Keith Oxlee was named Natal Sportsman of the year. Others considered were Tim MacLaclan (Swimming), Les Salton (Soccer), Renee Schuurman (Tennis) and Jackie McGlew (Cricket).
35 families, approximately 100 people returned to South Africa from Australia. The cutting quotes “ After spending some time in Australia – several of them stayed less than 5 months – they decided that South Africa was not such a bad place after all.”
The Durban Harbour tug “ Ludwig Weiner” one of the last pre World War 1 harbour vessels will be withdrawn in 1961.
A new Nederduitse Gereformerde Kerk with many striking architectural features is nearing completion in Hillary.
Work began on the new Convent High School site in Glenmore Durban. This would replace the old Convent School in St Andrew’s Street.
Decimalisation came to South Africa in 1961. Remember the jingle “Decimal Dan”?
“Zoot shirts, flamboyant beach shirts and jeans for women” have been banned from lecture rooms and libraries at the University of Natal Campuses.
Mr Lionel Bevis retires from the Durban Art Gallery and Museum after 50 years service. If I recall a plaque in his honour was mounted in the Medwood Gardens. He was also a long standing member of the Natal Philatelic Association now known as The Philatelic Association of Kwa Zulu Natal.
Chris Klopper a Natal Rugby great calls it a day as front ranker. Chris owned a butchery in Akals Building, Stamford Hill Road.
Yuri Gagarin, the Russian astronaut became the first man in space. He encircled the world and returned safely after 108 minutes.
The Natal golfer, Sewsunker “Papwa” Sewgolum given special permission to play in the SA Open Golf Champs in East London.
“M.O.T.H. O” , Mr. C. A. “Evo” Evenden founder and head of the Memorable Order of Tin Hats , the ex servicemen movement died in Durban.
South Africa withdrew from the British Commonwealth; South Africa opting to become a republic on 31st May 1961.
The new Durban Ocean Terminal is proceeding well. The R6 million project would transform the T Jetty and provide the harbour with a modern marine passenger terminal. Sadly today a white elephant.
A Polio immunisation drive was launched in Natal. A million plus people was the target. I recall this was an oral vaccine (Salk) and was given out at all schools.
The 1961 Aqua Follies took place at the old Durban Beach Baths (Rachel Finlayson ).
Leicester City Football Club on tour in SA played Durban City Football Club. Remember the Silver Fox, Norman Elliott?
Commander Alan Shepard (USA) rides in space to answer Russia’s lead and to start the space race. Shepard’s flight only lasts 16 minutes.
All school children receive a commemorative badge to mark the declaration of the Republic. The Union Jack will no longer be flown alongside the South African flag.
“Tiger” Wright, Natal and South African champion jockey leaves to ride in England.
George Claasen a 44 year old Transvaal schoolmaster won the Comrades Marathon in 6 hours 7 mins 7 secs.
Trevor Goddard, the Natal cricketing great, decided to settle in England and leave South Africa.
The site on which the old St Joseph’s Convent School was built, corner Smith and Broad street is auctioned for a mere R240 000. The school was opened in 1875. The Durdoc Medical Centre was later built on this site.
The 10 000 ton U.S.S. Spiegel Grove, flagship of a US Naval Task Force docks in Durban on a visit.
The Norwegian tanker Skaukar runs aground on a sandbank north of Durban’s North Pier. Three tugs pull it free.
The newly built Queensburgh Civic Centre is opened.
A microwave antenna is mounted on the radio tower at Overport Ridge. This antenna points to Scottburgh on the South Coast enabling direct dialling to take place between Durban and the South Coast.
Kerason, a 40-1 outsider wins the 1961 July Handicap. Second was Hengist followed by Lucky Coin and Hyacinth, the favourite.
The Durban Gold Cup winner was Cairn Feast followed by Hengist, Hyacinth and Kerason.
Malcolm Atkinson wins the Ice Skating Marathon at the Durban Ice Rink. He remained on the ice 73.5 hours.
Constable Benedict Ntuli wins “Mr. Durban 1961” body building contest.
A team of English school boys called the Swifts arrive in Durban by ship for their South African tour. I was chosen to represent Durban Schools which played them at Queensmead Hockey Ground.
A cenotaph at the Royal Durban’s Light Infantry headquarters was dedicated to those of the regiment that died during both World Wars. A drum head service was also held marking the Regiment’s 107th year of founding. Major Rev. H.F. Yule conducted the service.
The City Librarian Mr J. C. Eyre retires after 42 years service with the Durban Municipality.
The National Ballroom and Latin American Dancing Championships are held at the Durban City Hall. Mr. M. Myklebust and his partner Miss Jenny Prior are amongst the winners. Myklebust Dance Studios were one of several that were in Durban. Kinrade Potter, Arthur Murray, and Dudley Andrews were the others I recall. I did my time at Kinrade Potter then based in Kings Mansions Building in Aliwal Street.
H. Webber of Natal wins the “Champion of Champions” title at the national weight lifting championships held in Durban.
“Dance Time” a programme of song and dance is presented by Iris Manning at the St. John’s Theatre Old Fort Road. Amongst the cast is Iris’s pupil Margeret Barbieri of Durban who later joined the Royal Ballet in London achieving major acclaim.
The first ever Natal Grand Prix was held at the Westmead Track on December 17th 1961. The winner was the legendary Jim Clark driving a works Lotus Climax. Westmead Circuit eventually folded in the early 1970s the track being converted into an industrial estate, some of the present road names still alluding to the track and race drivers.
What happened in Durban 1971
The van der Riet brothers, Willem and Roelof won the Dusi Canoe Marathon in 11 hours, six minutes and 8 seconds. They win for the 3rd consecutive time and break their own record for the race by 5 minutes. Second was Jimmy Potgieter and Andre Collins both from Transvaal followed by Graham Pope-Ellis and Eric Clark.
The first mayor of Amanzimtoti, Mr Olaf Edward Bjorseth elected in 1952 dies at his home in Umbogintwini. He was Chairman of both the Isipingo and Amanzimtoti Town Boards.
The old Athlone Bridge, a steel girder construction which was made redundant by the new opened Ellis Brown Viaduct is in the process of being demolished. However problems arise when cutting of the steel at one end, gives away and one end of the bridge falls into the Umgeni River. With the old steel structure lying adjacent to the new bridge, fears are expressed that if the Umgeni comes down in flood, the new bridge may be in jeopardy. Amazingly I recall that during the Demoina floods, the Athlone bridge foundations remained intact .
Plans are revealed for Durban New Station covering 60 acres between Umgeni and Argyle Roads. Plans show Gardiner Street to be extended as far as the new station. In a proposed picture, the Umgeni side is shown with a multi-storey headquarters building, gardens and access roads to the entrance. Total cost estimated at R 117 million. Although built the planned outcome did not really materialise with the Umgeni Road side becoming a virtual squatter camp and the station never really fulfilling its purpose. Today a major clothing company has premises there, the Post Office utilises a large area and I am not sure with the state the railways are in, how much the station is used.
A six kilometre square oil slick threatens Durban and the South Coast, when the off shore pipeline breaks at a manifold whilst the tanker Jacobs Malmos is discharging. The BP-Shell service vessel ms Reunion tries valiantly to limit damage by spraying detergents on the huge slick.
Barry Richards playing for South Australia in the Sheffield Shield breaks Sir Donald Bradman’s record of 1448 runs in a first class season bettering the total by 2 runs.
Durban Boys’ High School celebrates 105 years of existence. To mark the occasion the unveiling of the Bullimore Bell Tower takes place. Lt. D.J. Bullimore, an Old Boy, was killed during WW2 and a bell was donated to the school in his memory by his father in 1950. A commemorative plaque in this regard was included.
The narrow bridge over Bridgevale Park in Durban North is demolished to be replaced by a new 4 lane bridge. The old bridge, the source of many complaints because of its narrowness, is demolished using explosives.
Durban’s Lady in White, Perla Siedle Gibson passes away. In the article is said “ Her career as a wartime “morale booster” began during World War 1 when she sang at the Durban City Hall to some passing troops. But it was not until World War 2 that the “Lady in White” became an international figure. It happened when she was helping to feed some 500 troops in the mv Katanga. “ I was dressed in a white dress and a white apron. When the ship pulled out, the boys asked me to sing something. So I cupped my hands to my mouth and sang”. She sang to thousands after that.
Mike Proctor playing for Rhodesia scores his sixth successive century in first class cricket to join greats Sir Donald Bradman and C. B. Fry as the only ones to accomplish this feat.
Natal’s Neil Adcock (who recently passed away) is appointed manager of the South African Team to tour Australia. Those of us who followed cricket in the sixties remember Neil Adcock and Peter Heine as South Africa’s opening bowling attack.
The Cape to Rio Yacht race starts on Jan 16 1973 with several Durban yachts involved. The Daily News erects a giant map on its first floor balcony plotting the positions of the contestants.
Elaine Fontbin, a former Convent High School pupil, graduates from the University of Natal with a degree in Electrical Engineering. She is the first girl of Chinese origin to qualify as an electrical engineer in South Africa. Her father, Mr Albert Fontbin owner of the well known Durban eatery, the Phoenix Restaurant in Point Road comments regarding Elaine’s culinary skills, “Improving, but it’s not really her forte”.
Natal University Rag Queen for the year is Wanda Hennig, her princesses, Jill Moffat and Sue Clarence.
The 17 year old Ellerman Lines passenger liner, City Of Durban visits Durban for the last time on her voyage back to Britain were she will be sold or broken up. The other 3 Ellerman liners withdrawn from service due to economic reasons and the effects of air travel are the City of York, City of Port Elizabeth, City of Exeter. The 4 vessels are sold to the Greek shipping company Karageorgis.
Durban is battered by a severe storm resulting in one of the worst floods in Durban’s history. A bus crashes during the storm near Kwa Mashu killing many occupants. The death toll in the city rises to 60 and hundreds of thousands of rands damage. Hunter and Alice Streets are completely flooded, the waters rising to the cars’ headlamps. The Umhlanga River bursts its banks after 132 mm of rain falls.
The 1971 Comrades is won by Dave Bagshaw completing his hatrick of wins. A record of 1089 runners set off from Pietermaritzburg. The race length was increased by 5 kms this year making it the longest ever. During the year changes are made to Comrades Rules. To qualify for a Green Number previously a runner had to win the race 5 times or win a finishing medal n 10 occasions. This is now changed to 3 wins, 5 gold medals or 10 finishes. Golds are now awarded to the first 10 runners, previously 6, coming in. Silver medals are awarded to those coming in within 7 and a half hours. The rest finishing within 11 hours get bronze medals. Three women ran the Comrades unofficially, the race still restricted to white males.
The Little Top at the South Beach has a striking new look in the shape of a big ball with a cutaway stage area.
Durban’s entry, Miss Monica Fairall wins the Miss South Africa title. Monica is a B.A. student at the University of Natal at the time.
Mazarin wins the Durban July followed by Home Truth, Coast Guard and Applause. Mazarin wins as 9-4 favourite.
A big city blaze guts Woolfson’s men’s outfitters, corner West St and Alexandra Street opposite the West Street cemetery. The double storey building is badly damaged.
The Gold Cup is won by Rainstorm after the winner Desert Fox is placed second after an objection. Finish First runs third followed by Moondrift. The objection was based on “alleged crossing and boring”.
The Lipton Cup, South Africa’s premier yachting event is held off Durban. The contest is won by Sunrose, skippered by Durban yachtsman, Jimmy Whittle and his crew of Arne Kode, Cyril Warne, Ronnie Kode and Joe Harris.