Things rather went off the boil as far as this website went but I have been trying to catch up with matters outstanding. One of those things which fell badly through the cracks was a note from my informant Allan Connell who had the following to say:

Hi Allan
This is my first visit to your site, and I had fun looking at the “wreck of the Odd” story, and Reg Sweet’s bit on the Durban fighter squadron of WW2Regarding the fighter planes, I was born in 1943, in Amanzimtoti, where my folks had a house on the intersection of Kingsway and Inyoni Rocks Road. In those days we had lovely bush, with bushbuck and duiker, between Kingsway and the railway line.

Our folks told us about a day during WW2 (I think), when they heard what sounded like hail on the roof of the house, and a plane in trouble. The clattering on the roof turned out to be cartridges falling from the plane, and it crashed in the bush towards Umbogintwini. The pilot ejected and my dad told us he helped him down from the trees where he found the pilot, trapped in the tree canopy, by the ropes of his ‘chute. Can anyone shed any light on this story?

Secondly, can anyone shed any light on the ship wreck that lies about 3km offshore of Brighton Beach/Treasure Beach, just south of Cooper Light, in about 30m water depth. Durban’s commercial divers knew it well in the late 1960’s when they sometimes stopped there for “recreational” dives,  during the hectic diving days of the construction of Durban’s two marine outfalls. One of them, Mitty Chelin, told me that he was convinced it was a whaler, because it had what he described as “sunken bollards” on the deck, for towing whales. I have SCUBA dived on it myself on a number of occasions and even collected a beautiful bronze porthole off it, but have never been able to establish a name, or how it came to be there. I wonder if any people from the whaling community have any record of this ship.
With best wishes
Allan Connell

I think I can help on both of those questions. The crash you mention was likely that of a Kittyhawk fighter and there has been a fair bit on this site on the numerous examples which crashed in the Durban area during WWII including a list of dates, which might help you narrow it down. The wreck you mention sounds to me like that known as the Cooper Light Wreck.  It is mentioned in diary entries for 31 July 2003, 2 August 2003 and 15 August 2003 - just click the links and scroll down to those dates.


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62 Responses to Bluff

  1. Gerald Buttigieg says:

    I received this post via an email from a close friend who knows I am interested in Durban History about 2 weeks ago. It is probably doing the rounds. I am posting it here as received with full acknowledgement that Peter Whitaker is the writer. I do not know Peter Whitaker. Along with these short notes are numerous photos and postcards of the Bluff but I do not know if Peter posted those as well . Once I work out how I can get the pictures into this post I will do so.

    Bluff History by Peter Whitaker
    When my father first came to the Bluff in the 1940′s Bluff Rd was a sand track and lined with trees. Mr. Grey who owned Greys Inn, a hotel, roughly opposite Splash pools (and not the Harcourt hotel which came much later) used to take a team of oxen down what is now a footpath from Airley Rd to Brighton Beach to help pull the old 1920/30 cars up, so that people could have lunch at his Inn before the long drive back to Durban. Mr. Grey owned a large part of the Brighton Beach area, which is why Greys Inn Rd was named after his Inn, and he also left a large area of the valley in trust to the people of the Bluff, as a recreational area. I understand that this is mainly the section being used by Natures Haven and Harlequins.
    The Bluff had many separate areas as it developed, each with its own problems and characteristics. The North had the Whaling Station smell, the South the Oil refinery smell (not pollution, just a smell), the centre had a swamp with mosquitoes and sometimes you got the benefit of all three in varying proportion. We were a mixed community then, we had Indian fisher folk in houses on stilts built out over the waters of the bay at Fynnlands (as well as some other areas), the Zanzibar’s at Kings Rest, and over at St Francis Xavier in Sormany Rd and down to where Moss Rd is today, a large Zulu community. A number of Bluff roads owe their names to the first farmers who subdivided to make the stands that we live on today. Some of the original farm houses still remain, you just have to know where to look. Then for many years we had Clover dairy (complete with cows) opposite the reservoir in Dunville road it eventually became a depot and then was sold off .
    The Bluff had many uniquely named areas, such as Kings Rest, reputedly where Dick King rested after crossing the bay, and Kings View which later became more commonly known as Crossways after the Crossways Hotel. How the area ever was renamed Ocean View, I can never understand there was no discussion with the residents, and Ocean Views are found in just about every seaside town, but Kings View was unique. There were many more areas with similar names.
    Do you remember how we got about in the 1950/60s? The bus service was in two parts, a Green line and a Red Line service. The Routes were Marine Garage to Town, or Crossways to Town with the busses turning around in Beach road, ever wondered why there is that extra wide piece of Beach Rd going up toward Netford Rd for about a bus length? It was so that a bus could pull in and turn around to go back to town. On the other side of the Bluff busses would go to Fynnland beach, which in those days was a beautiful beach inside the harbour, before the oil sites were built. In fact before 1948 the Government of the day was going to build an “oil harbour” down at the cuttings at Merebank, so the current idea is far from new. After enough homes had been built it was decided that the busses should travel up to a terminus at the military base and cross over as they do now. This journey through transport would not be complete however if I did not mention the tour bus of the day that was run by the Council – it was called the “Toast Rack” and was open with a sort of fence all round which looked for all the world like a toast rack.
    My brother and sister started school at Brighton Beach Primary School , as it was known in those days, 5 class rooms on the first floor and the first headmistress (Mrs. Wife) had an office under the north stairs which I think is now used as a cleaner’s store. By the time I got there in 1957 the pillars on the ground floor had been bricked in to form another 5 classrooms, with the middle 2 having a sliding partition to make a “hall’. 1964 saw the building of the Hall, and later still the pool. Much later still came the splitting of schools into Junior and Senior Primary levels.
    Peter Whitaker

    Edit: The pictures that came with the email are added here. Perhaps people can comment as to locations of some of the sites.

    The Bluff Drive In now the Bluff Pick and Pay. Tara Road?

    Bluff Light house Tearoom

    Bluff Mangrove Swamps 1950s

    Coriolanus moored off Salisbury Island early 1950s

    Brighton Beach early 1960s

    Indian Seine Netters Houses Fynnlands

    Indian Seine Netters Fynnlands

    Fynnlands Beach as it was before being turned into Oil Tanker berths.

    The OK Bazaars at the Bluff. Later became The Hub and is now the medical centre. Photo courtesy Gerald Pigg

    Inauguration of the Original Bluff Lighthouse 1867

    Harcourt Hotel Advertisement showing the Funicular which ran from the Hotel to the Beach below

    The Stilettos playing at the Alex on the Bluff.

    • Allan Hannah says:

      Hi Gerald
      It seems like a lifetime ago, in the army, and my stay at the Bluff army camp!
      Having completed a course at the Gymnasium in Pretoria I was lucky enough to be billeted at the Bluff camp!
      I think that a Major Holtzhausen was OC at the time but soon after we arrived he was off on a course in Pretoria and his second in command took over!
      A morning stroll between the Navy quarters and the Army premises was pleasant and the walk was through fairly sparse bush, along a fairly well used path! Pleasant indeed, warmth of the morning sun, the smell of the vegetation and the twittering of a variety of birds, including the squawking of budgies!
      Yes sir, BUDGIES!!!
      When I told my fellow instructors about the budgies they told me that I shouldn’t have had that extra Klippies the night before!!
      I can only assume that these birds escaped from their cages and, over time established their own community in the wild!
      One of the minor, unimportant memories of my time on the Bluff !
      There were many other memories, of the chaps I served with, the happy times we had together and the cartridges that didn’t quite fit the new gas operated FN rifles

    • derek austin says:

      I have been doing some research on my paternal grandmothers family whose surname was Groom. Her sisters name was Mabel and here is what I found out about her so far. Jim Meredith Miller married Mabel Elizabeth Groom. Mabel and Jim were married in St Cyprians Church in Durban after coming via Transvaal back to Natal. At that time he was in the Natal Colonials and served under Baden-Powel in the Siege of Ladysmith as a Sapper /hunter and Tracker (Boer War). Mabel Elizabeth Groom born 1877 London England. Died 1937, buried West Street cemetery. Married Jim Meredith Miller who was a house porter at Durban Hospital earning £84 in 1897 according to the Natal Almanac. Mabel and Jim Meredith, who was christened so according to his Birth certificate parted company and did not divorce, she remained in Pretoria and Jim came to Durban on pension. He had a house boat built and called it Pamula and lived in it in Durban floating behind Kings Rest Station in Fynnland. He could speak 3 dialects of Indian, having served in India before WW 1 and he got along with the Shrimping community living there. Mabel refused to do this and stayed back in Pretoria. Would anyone know anything about the houseboat at Fynnlands?

      Regards Derek

    • glynn symes says:

      The Bluff Drive Inn. I recall that it was in Tara Road. Behind it in the photo, on top of the hill, was the Wentworth Centre. Turning left at the centre would bring one to the hospital. Just out of the picture on the right, was the old coed Grosvenor High School.
      Brighton Beach in the 1960′s. It was interesting to see that the lifesaving house was already built (opposite the tearoom). The ‘chief’ lifesaver was a gent called Stan (surname I forget), who was a hit amongst the locals because he drove a light blue MGA 1600 sportscar. All the kids at the time (aged around 10 – 15) referred to him as ‘Stan, Stan the lifeguard man’. On the left out of the picture, was the paddling pool and the tidal pool, which I believe are still in use today.
      The OK Centre: I believe that this was called the Dayton Centre, in Lighthouse Road. It was built by the construction company of my father and his partners at the time. Underneath the building, in the parking area, was the local office of Natal Tattersalls. The building later became the OK Centre when OK were the main tenant.
      The Funicular: After swimming, I used to climb this rail-route as an ‘illegal’ shortcut to reach Marine Drive by foot.
      The Mangrove swamp was drained by a tunnel dug under the Bluff and Marine Drive, and stretched from a point beyond the bottom football field of the Brighton Beach School on the swamp side (not far from the Dobleton Poultry Farm, opposite Sormany Road), to open in the surf at Ansteys Beach. Once the swamp was completely drained, work started on the construction of the new Grosvenor Boys High School.
      The Stilettos; Barry Tate, on the far right was the basist and an ex class comrade at GBH in about 1965.
      Cheers, Glynn Symes

      • Gerald Buttigieg says:

        Hi Glynn,
        I am not “ruff ‘n’ tuff from the Bluff” but my wife is and she is always interested to read posts like yours. Your Stan the man she recalls implicitly . She remembers the Dobles who ran the Dobleton Poultry Farm very well. Whenever she needed feathers for some head dress, she used to collect from Mrs Doble. I think a lot of people really do enjoy reading the multitude of posts that have been posted. If you would like to post photos, send them to Allan Jackson who you contact via the Contact Us link.

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  3. Fred Perfect says:

    Excellent, brought back wonderful memories.
    I learnt to swim at Brighton Beach pool – remember the traffic jams down there!!
    I learnt to drive at the old parking area of the Lighthouse!.
    My grandfather (Italian origin) helped build the steps from the whaling station up to the top where it meets Marine drive!

    • glynn symes says:

      Hello Fred, I Long shot; were you at GBH in the class with my younger brother, Hilton Symes? Or was it Walter Perfect?
      Glynn Symes, Matric 1966.

  4. Keith Titmuss says:

    Hello Allan, the pictures of the mangroves, the Coriolanus flying boat, the Indian Seine Netters and the Stillettos rock group were originally posted by me on Rake Jeeves “Bluff Stuff” website some time ago. They have also appeared on Facebook “Bluff Reunited”. The picture of the mangroves was taken in the 1950′s along the causeway which joined Salisbury Island to the Bluff – thats my mother with our little dog “Fluffy”. The flying boat picture was taken by my father in law, Cyril Rudling, also in the 1950′s. The Indian Fishing Village was situated at Fynnlands at the point where the causeway headed out to Salisbury Island. Sadly the mangroves and beaches all disappeared under oil storage tanks and container parks.
    The Stillettos…..thats me in the middle with the red Fender Stratocaster. Victor Craig is on the left, Gerald and Barry Tait are on the right. At the back is Denys Peel on drums.
    Kind Regards,
    Keith Titmuss
    Coventry, United Kingdom

    • Allan Jackson says:

      Hi Keith, thanks very much for those details. Allan.

    • Gerald Buttigieg says:

      Hi Keith,
      As indicated in my post the article on the Bluff was sent to me via a close friend and “posted as received”. Thanks for putting the record straight. It would seem there is no control over script and pictures being copied and claimed by other people. But back to the Stilettos. Would that be the same Barry Tait that ended up working for the Durban Corporation Telephone Dept.?

      • Keith Titmuss says:

        Hi Allan and Gerald,
        Sorry if I seemed to be complaining….not at all. I posted them on “Bluff Stuff ” for anyone to see or repost. We moved to Fynnlands in 1948 when I was 4 years old when the bay and surrounding beaches and mangroves were like a paradise to small boys. I have some other pictures which I will send for anyone interested. I have been meaning to put on paper my memories of the Bluff from those days, (before the memory fades). A far as I know Barry Tait did not work at The Corporation – he spent most of his working life at Van Dyke Carpets. We are heading to South Africa at the end of October for an extended holiday and will be staying with Barry and his wife, so will get his input and and put pen to paper about the Bluff in the “old days”.
        Keith Titmuss

        • Kieth, I grew up on the bluff, Fynnlands and then Grosvenor boys high. Barry Tait and I were good friends if it is the same fella you refer to with whom you will be staying with here in SA? Lost contact some 50 years ago, I lived with my parents in Torquay ave and Barry was on a road off the end of Bluff road to the right up a steep hill near the shops and station at Fynnlands beach. I am now living in Toti and wouldn’t mind talking to Barry if it is in fact the same fella.

          • Keith Titmuss says:

            Hello George, sounds like the same Barry to me! They lived in Stott Road when he was at Grosvenor. He is currently in Australia on holiday. I will let him know about your message when he returns to KZN. We were in Hillcrest with Barry and his wife for 3 months on and off and are now back in Blighty!!! – Cheers from a former Bluff ou!

            PS….did you go to the “sessions” at Fynnland scout hall or the Fynnland sports club in those days?

        • Margot Plint says:

          Hi Keith,
          I see you know and have contact with Barry Tait. I wonder if you would know where in the world is his brother Gerald Tait. He was a friend of my sister Isla.
          I remember his dad’s lovely veggie garden. We lived in Iverina Road, behind the Taits.

          • Keith Titmuss says:

            Hi Margot, how nice to hear from you. Yes, Mr Tait had a wonderful vegetable garden at the back of the property in Stott Road. Sadly Gerald passed away several years ago. I remember using the back gate of the Taits house to get to Ivernia Road to visit the Barnett and Ritchie boys…..we used to have epic cricket games using Ivernia road as our pitch….not much traffic in those days.



          • charmaine cooper dugdale says:

            Hi. Margo. Did u perhaps stay next door to ginger davis in ivernia road

        • George Askew says:

          Hi Keith.
          I saw you guys performing one. You were good. Lovely pix you have – but do you have any of the old Bayhead circa late 50s /early 60s, esp the warm-stream and the ship graveyard?

          • Keith Titmuss says:

            Hi George,
            Unfortunately I have no other photos of the harbour from that period but I have fond memories of exploring the mangrove forest from the original Bluff yacht club right up to the bayhead. Up to the late 50s I think the bayhead was “protected” – no fishing allowed as it was a fish breeding area. Later, after the silt canal was dredged I remember the the old ships being broken up not far from where the Island Sailing Club is now situated. I do remember your name – often in the newspaper spear fishing reports?
            Kind regards,

  5. Angela Naidoo says:

    Hi Keith

    Just read you article and became very excited. The families of the Fynnland Fishing Village have started a facebook page where we are finding our past, stories of our forefathers in the fishing industry. After removing the families from Fynnland Fishing Village they were moved to Brighton Beach and thereafter to Chatsworth. Families are now scattered. The photos of the house you pasted are my late mom’s sister’s home which we treasure as they are the very few photo we possess. Please check if you possess any more of the village and the activities of the fishermen during that period. I will be forever grateful as we want to keep the memories alive of the days gone by.
    Your story and that of your colleagues make very interesting read. If you need any materials during that era, please contact me. Regards Angela Naidoo

    • Allan Jackson says:

      Hi Angela
      Why not let us us have the link to the Facebook page? Many readers will be interested in taking a look at it.

      • Angela Naidoo says:

        Unfortunately the facebook page was created by my nephew, Kribben Naidoo who invited family members only. I possess a number of photos that families contributed. We also had a soccer team called the “Bluff Rangers”, I wonder if you remember them? My grandfather is best known for the 1917 Springfield floods where he and his crew of fishermen saved over 187 lives. I have photos of the medals and a copy of the “Fiat Lux” local newspaper which relates the story of the flood. The photo you pasted in your article is the famous house(belonged to my mom’s sister) where they used to sell fishing bait, like cracker shrimps. What was interesting about that house was, built on stilts, it was very near the seashore. When the tide came in, the entire village submerged in water, leaving the actual houses looking like they are floating. The residents used to actually fish from their balcony and even catch fish! There’s so much to tell. Keep in touch
        Forward photos to my eamil address of this era if you have any. Regards Angela

  6. Elizabeth How says:

    Although I do not hail from the Bluff. I was interested to read in one or two posts, people working for the Durban Corporation Telephone Department. Do they perhaps remember my Father Bert How and perhaps my sister Vicki How?

    • Gerald Buttigieg says:

      Hi Elizabeth,
      Can you give some indication of the time period we are talking of? Also do you have an idea where your father and your sister worked as there were various sections making up the Durban Corporation Telephone Department.

  7. Elizabeth How says:

    My Father retired as Assistant Engineer Construction when he retired in 1965. He arrived in South Africa in November 1924 and within a day or two of his arrival started work as a cable jointer. My sister Vicki worked as a switchboard operator there from 1960 til her marriage in 1966. The old Telephone Exchange was demolished in 1978 the year my Father died. It was an iconic building and I have many happy memories of going with Dad on his rounds of jobs at the weekends. I spent many, many hours of exploring that building as a child.

  8. Gerald Buttigieg says:

    Hi Elizabeth,
    I have got in contact with an old school friend who worked for the Durban Corporation Telephone Department . He has asked to remain anonymous so I will stick with that. He does remember your father as well as your sister Vicki. My informant is a mine of information and related the following. Your father retired as Head of Underground Cables. He cannot remember the date he retired but does remember that he lived at 39 Essenwood Road! Your sister married someone who worked at Sturrocks Safmarine and as you say she worked in the Service Room. Not having worked for the DC Telephone Dept. I was not aware of the Service Room but apparently it housed the switchboards which serviced all the DC departments. It also had a large clock in the room and you could get the right time given to you, a service which eventually became national. My informant tells me that the Service Room also provided a service that informed you of all the upcoming weekend end sports events restricted to the Durban area. You could also get the results on Mondays. I never knew of this. Finally my informant told me that there were 5 Telephone Managers from 1905 to 1969 that is when the Dept of Posts and Telegraphs took over the network. They were Mr Nanson (1905) , Mr Smith, Mr Roxburgh, Mr Hillary and the last Mr Finlayson. I looked through my bits and pieces and came across this article which appeared in a magazine called the Live Wire which was the magazine produced by the South African Telecommunication Association, a quasi “trade union” which looked after Govt. employees who worked for the Dept of P&T. Remember no civil servants were allowed to strike in those days. The picture shows the original building and then the extension at the back. In the background are the Dept. of P&T buildings which abutted the old building. In these buildings were the Durban Trunk Exchange and what was called the Carrier Room which provided the links to all the main centres. I do not want to get into the whole history of the Telephone networks in Durban but hope this snippet brings back memories.

  9. Elizabeth How says:

    Thanks for your message and the photographs. It did bring back memories. What your school friend has said is true my Dad was quite a tyrant in a work environment. Vicki has just turned 7o and lives just outside PMB. She was widowed just over 2 years ago. Her son died tragically in 1993. Her daughter is married and has 3 sons and also lives near PMB. Vicki is still in contact with a number of girls from her time at the Exchange. One of them – Maureen Klug who has remained a true friend to her. Maureen is not married and lived in Durban. There used to be parties at our house so your informant would have met my Mother and that pesty teenager (me)
    Regards Elizabeth

  10. Rodney says:

    Thank you for the photos of the Municipal Telephone Exchange. I had forgotten all about its existence, but remember it fondly now. I don’t think that I am mistaken that to the rear of this building (the Grey Street Side) was the central fire station before it was removed to the Warwick(?) Avenue area. I remember seeing the row of bright red fire engines with their extension ladders and shiny brass bells, facing Pine Street. This fire station may have been mentioned on FAD before, but I can find no reference to it.

    Elizabeth – are you part of the How family that lived in Kingston Road on the Durban North/Redhill border?

    • Elizabeth How says:

      No I am not connected to the How’s of Red Hill/Durban North Being a Genealogists I would be interested as to who they are/were and where they came from here in the UK.

  11. J.Dube` says:

    Hi All,
    I have sent an email to Allan with a further photo of the old exchange showing the Pine Street long view which includes the old fire station, perhaps Allan would consider adding it.

    • Allan Jackson says:

      And here it is. Thanks John.
      Old Pine Street Exchange. Photo courtesy John Dube - click to enlarge.
      Old Pine Street Exchange.
      Photo courtesy John Dube – click to enlarge.

      • Elizabeth How says:

        According to my Dad there was access between the Fire Station and Exchange. My Dad used to go and play cards (bridge I think) with the Fire Officers on duty. When the Fire Station/Exchange caught fire my Dad worked virtually night and day to keep communications and telephones running. He used to just come home have something to eat, change clothes have a quick sleep and then off again with a basket full of food and drinks for who every was working whether they be (black or white)

  12. Elizabeth How says:

    I should also say thank you for posting that photograph’

  13. Michele Tilley - nee Groenewald says:

    Hi Gerald, Are you married to Barrie Black? If so I came to your wedding as Barrie and I were best friends during our school days . My husband, Norman Tilley, lived next door to the Blacks.
    I started school at Brighton Beach Primary, before the school building was built. School was held in St Margaret’s Church Hall, and the first principal was Mrs Edds. Think I might have been in Class 2 when we moved to the new school building. So long ago…

  14. Gerald Buttigieg says:

    Hi Michelle,
    Yep the one and only! Barrie says you’ve got your wires crossed. Mrs Wife was the Principal (short white haired lady) and Mrs Edds was the Vice. I leave to you to sort that one out. Any other memories to add?

    • Michele Tilley - nee Groenewald says:

      I am sure I have not been overcome by senility yet ( although might be fast approaching), but I definitely went to school in the church hall while the big school buildings were being built. At which stage, Mrs Edds was principle, but became VP under Mrs Wife when we moved to the new building

  15. Jo Wallstrom says:

    I just want to thank you all for the lovely memories of the Bluff and Brighton Beach, Fynnlands Beach and Salisbury Island. I used to love the mangrove swamps where the flying boats landed as we called them and when they did the flamingoes would fly up in a pink cloud. We children in Stableford Road led by Boetie would walk next to the railway line to Fynnlands beach and even swim there. The number of times we went to the mangrove swamps where I would always find the most beautiful shells. The boys always caught crabs and shrimps which with they used to tease us girls. The most lovely and carefree young days you could wish for.
    Thank you all for the memories and pictures which brought it to life. Jo Wallstrom-Walda

  16. mickey smith says:

    what a magic page!!! dont start me up !!!!!! such beautiful memories of the bluff. I too am an GHB old boy moving to the bluff just before they built the girls school on an old reservoir. George Oosthuizen we were in std 6c together in 1961.I remember the day we carried our chairs over to the new school and you threw Charles du preez’s chair into the bush along tara road which was then a sand path or was that Charles Morton who did that?. I am in the middle of a memoir of my life on the Bluff and the schools and the sessions at the scout hall and would gratefully accept any anecdotes and information that I could add to my fading memories.Oh the Alex theatre! The characters and the places that made the Bluff the most exciting place to grow up. Many thanks for the memories ek se!

  17. Ian van Biljon says:

    Wonderful website-well done.Im currently working as an architect together with some urban designers on the plans to upgrade the Bluff beaches.Your stories and photographs are an invaluable guide.Thank you.It would be very helpful if your readers could post more pics.All the best
    Ian van Biljon
    078 422 9945

  18. Jane Jelley. Maiden name Jane Keddie says:

    I remember Michelle Tilley nee Groenewald
    If I am correct you lived at 19 Rogaly Rd, my auntie Joyce Dyer lived at the bottom of the driveway. My sister Susan and I lived at 5 Cairn Garoch Rd.
    My father landed in Durban harbour in a flying boat all the way from England in 1946
    and my mother, Susan and myself followed in 1947 on the Winchester Castle which docked in Cape Town and we had to come up to Durban by train.
    My father built and named our house “Cairn Garroch” after the farm he grew up on in Scotland and the corporation asked him to name the road as it had no name. He named it Cairn Garroch but the corporation insisted that the spelling was wrong and should read Cairn Garoch. Needless to say it annoyed my father intensely but they wouldn’t correct it. My sister Susan died in that house last year.

    In regard to the valley, I remember as a child, light planes used to fly low over the valley and spray the swamp to kill the mosquitoes. We used to sleep with nets over our beds.

    When the valley was drained years ago, all the residents were approached and were told that a golf course was going to be put in the valley and if you donated £10 you would be a life member. My father donated the £10 to support the scheme but he was not a golfer.

    Just a bit more history to add.

  19. Joyce Collett says:

    Hi there, Mr GRAY was my Grandfather…He named Brighton Beach after Brighton in the UK as that is where his mother came from….she was a Hannington…..Grays Inn Road was named after Grays Inn in London…where family came from….My mother built a tea garden at Brighton Beach…and she and my dad had the big one built in 1949…My uncle built the Drive-Inn and had the garage next to the post office…My dad started Dolphin Surf Lifesaving Club. Mrs Wife was the first princepal at Brighton Beach Primary School…she and Mrs Thompson and another teach only know her as Jeanette used to board with us..Just a bit of info….

  20. Gerald Buttigieg says:

    Hi Joyce
    Thanks for the info. I looked up Gray in the 1938 Durban Directory and I see that HM Gray is listed as Private Hotel Brighton Beach Estate The Bluff Telephone no. 81468. That makes one presume that your grandfather at one time owned that area of the Bluff or am I wrong? I also looked up my street name reference and there is Brighton Road which is stated as “runs across the Bluff to Brighton Beach from which it takes its name”. But coming back to the “private hotel” can you throw any light on this? The Harcourt Hotel was also in existence at that time 1938 and was owned by AB Harcourt.
    Gray Park Road and Gray’s Inn Road are also indicated in my street names book and the reference is “took their names from an old resident family who owned property and lived in this district for many years”. The use of the word “district” reminds us that in essence only the central part of Durban was known as Durban whereas anything outlying was known as Durban District. Do you have any old photos of Brighton Beach and any info on the tidal swimming pool as there was a query some time back as to who and when it was built?

    • Joyce Collett says:

      Hi Gerald,
      Yes my Grandparents bought a track of land
      From where the caravan park is and over the
      hill to the beach. It was farmed at first while they
      built the hotel, the garage which became the Brighton
      Beach PO and at a later date my uncle built
      Torch Garage. The Gray family came from the UK
      And then in 1890 moved to Queensland in Austrslua
      My Grandfather and one of his brothers joined up
      to fight in the Boer War and stayed in SA.
      My Grandmother Mabel Gray graded Grays Inn
      Road with 6 Basuto men. She was only 5ft2in
      After my Grsndfather passed away the ground
      was cut up into plots and sold off. My uncle negotiated
      With the Durban Corporation a swap of land to
      build the Drive Inn And the council built the caravan
      park some years later. The Harcourt Hotel was
      Brought to the bluff in pieces and rebuilt.
      My mother and dad built the Kit Kat Tea Room
      At Brighton Beach. My mom told me that the big
      Pool was built by the army during the war
      I have some photos on my face book page.

      Regards Joyce.

  21. Pravin says:

    Hi peeps.
    please anyone with photos of the old fire station in bluffroad and the shop opposite it, wenthworth shopping centre, now rb pawnbrokers. my mum used to run the fish and chips at the side.

    many thanks

  22. George Askew says:

    I am busy on a book on S African diving`s early days and need some pix.
    I`m sure they must be somewhere on the web but I have been looking.
    I need pix of: North Pier showing the sewage being discharged,
    fishing off N Pier`s first wooden jetty when the pipe opened,
    the pier showing both jetties,
    the old Indian who lived in an old railway coach at the base of N Pier and sold bait,
    the warm stream at Bayhead,
    the derelict and wrecked boats that lay in shallow coves next to the warm stream,
    Fynnlands beach,
    whales going to the factory,
    the anti sub caissons being laid,
    kings battery,
    old deep sea fishing boat “Panther”,
    bay ferry jetties,
    old whalers at Salisbury Isle and at anchor,
    under Maydon wharf and Salisbury Isle.
    Any help will be credited in my book.

  23. Gerald Buttigieg says:

    Hi George
    Those would be very nostalgic photos if you can get hold of them. I well remember the two wooden jetties off North Pier. The one close to where the two sewage pipes dumped into the channel was the sturdier. It was quite wide and had railings all round. At the head of the jetty it opened out into a square. In shad and grunter season you had to be there early in the morning to get a place. Fishing off the pier was not so hot because as you trolled your line in you had to negotiate the rocks lining the pier and more often than not your sinker caught on the small barnacles. Then you would see the fishermen walking backward away from the sea with their rods parallel to where they had become entangled and the line break with a twang. On the other hand you would see the “amateurs” who had hooked the rocks trying all sorts of maneuvers with their rods bending in semicircles to no avail.
    The other wooden jetty some distance from the one mentioned was rather rickety and if I recall had a railing on one side only. It was unstable and for this reason was hardly used.
    I will have look as I think I have a suitable photo of the old whalers at Salisbury Island.
    Your name rings a bell as it used to appear in the Diving Column that appeared in the Daily News I think on Fridays years ago.

    • George Askew says:

      Hi Gerald.
      Thanks for your comment on the jetties. I remember them well as I fished from them a lot in the 50s, and they are featured in my semi biography, so I really would love a pic or two.
      Yep same one. I was quite a prominent diver in the 60s and 70s. I founded the first Dive-Shop in Africa, “George Askew Underwater”.

      Love this forum.

  24. glynn symes says:

    I really hope that this site is still ‘alive’.
    Hello to all who have contrubuted comments and memories to this site. Some of you I only recall, some I knew. George Oosthuizen for example. He was a class colleague at GBH, and a mad keen fisherman, together with Revell Sievwright, Wally Hill, Gavin Mallon, Red Braithwaite, Buckley Moffat, Richard Egling, John Warner, Derek Donaldson,Jock Maclaughlin, and, and, and. I recall most. Our Headmaster was Mr van Reenen and vice was St Pohl.
    We were separated from the girls who remained in the original school building on the Bluff under the headmistress, Mrs Clarkson.
    What a massive surprise it was to stumble apon the above captioned mails.
    Barry Tait was also a class-colleague at GBH. On the ‘Alex’ photo, Barry is on the far right. I seem to recall that he was the basist?
    Our class teachers during the final years were folk such as Terry Nevin, ‘Bubbles’, Lionel Swart, Tony Visser, Doreen Versveld to name a few. Oh, and Jocelyn Shanks, who could Forget?
    I grew up in Maxwell Avenue overlooking GBH. My primary schooling started at Brighton Beach Primary under the headmistress, Mrs Wife, before going directly to Grosvenor.
    I left GBH on matriculation in 1966 (I think!), and joined the SAAF permanent force based in Pretoria. It turned out to be a life which I did not enjoy. Two years later I was off into the big wide world. I studied in South Africa and England, and lived in Nottignham, London, Bordeaux, St Emilion, Paris, Hamburg, Gaberone, Düsseldorf, Münich and Beirut; not necessarily in that order.
    At 45 years old, I retired. I have 3 sons aged 39, 13 and 9. From my eldest son (from an earlier marriage) I have two grandchildren aged 6 and 4.
    There is a huge amount of information spanning the past 45 odd years. If anybody out there from the ‘old school’ wishes to contact, please feel free to do so by getting an E-Mail address to me for a direct reply if so wished.
    Glynn Symes (Vintage 07/1948)

  25. Lara Colley says:


    Can anyone shed any light on the “Kia Ora” tearoom/ shop at the Bluff – I am assuming it was there during or just after WWII….?
    Does anyone have any information on Edward Lorne Lowe (Tommy) who worked for the Water Police in the early twenty’s?
    Kindest regards,

  26. Gerald Buttigieg says:

    Hi Lara,
    I recall the Kia Ora Tearoom not on the Bluff but in Umbilo Road. It was not far from Penzance Rd. Just to make sure of my recall, I looked it up in the 1968 Durban Directory and Kia Ora Tearoom was at 608 Umbilo Road. This is in the block between Tunmer Road and Cedar Road. It was a small tearoom / supply store if I recall. My memory comes from driving back and forth from the Bluff during my courting days in the late 60s. There is no entry for a Kia Ora Tearoom on the Bluff. I also looked up the 1938 Directory and Kia Ora was also listed in that pre war directory. Then the address is given as 566 Umbilo Road. Also listed in the 1938 directory is the Kia Ora Private Hotel at 97 Clark Road. Doesn’t the name Kia Ora have a New Zealand connection?

  27. Terry McCann says:

    Kia Ora Tearoom was on the corner of Umbilo Road and Sycamore Road next to the Shell Garage that had those pumps with the two glass cylinders and a long lever which the petrol attendant had to pump side to side. As a boy living in one of the blocks of flats in Sycamore Road I loved to watch the petrol gush into and out of the glass cylinders. The owner of Kia Ora was a gentleman by the name of Hewitt who knew my dad and who sold us an Alsatian puppy in 1956. According to Wikipedia ‘kia ora’ is a Māori language greeting. Next to the Shell garage was E P Douglas the grocer who also knew my parents and lived on the corner of Sycamore Road and Frere Road. How did you get hold of that 1938 Directory? In the 1920′s and 30′s my mother and her family lived in a house in Brighton Beach not far from the Funicular. Their name was Howard.

  28. Gerald Buttigieg says:

    Hi Terry
    Thanks for confirming my memory of Kia Ora. I did not google Kia Ora as I should have but I do recall coming across that fact that it had something to do with NZ.

    Interesting info you supplied re the Kia Ora tearoom and the Shell Garage which I do remember but not with the glass cylinders. That dates you as being somewhat older than I.

    But first, how did I get a 1938 Lawrie’s Durban Directory. If I recall I saw it advertised for sale on Gumtree and thought that would be a good book to have. I told Allan Jackson about it. He was then living in Australia. The book was going for R80. He there and then purchased it. He then had the seller who lived in Pretoria (I think) send it to me here in the Midlands for safekeeping as it was too expensive to ship to Australia. So I have it “on loan”. It is a remarkable book because it is just pre war and not much changed in Durban till about the mid 50s so names I grew up with are listed in the book which is very handy. By the way the book contents are divided into what was then Durban proper that is the area bordered by Ridge Road, the sea, the Umgeni River and the Umbilo River. All other areas including the Bluff are called Districts and were only incorporated into the Durban Municipal area later.

    What I do is refer to this book whenever there is a question re some name or location and try to see if something crops up. For instance EP Douglas the greengrocer you mention. Bingo in 1938 there is this: E P Douglas Grocer 216 Stamford Hill Road. There are 7 Hewitts mentioned in the 38 Directory but no reference to Kia Ora. Invariably I also look up the 1968 Directory I have as I find that many people lived at the same address all their lives. However without initials it makes tracing difficult.

    Looking up Sycamore Road in the 68 book there are only two blocks of flats viz. Pacific Court or Abercorn Flats. Ring a bell? Both old blocks as they appear in the 1938 listing.

    Finally I looked up Howard on the Bluff and specifically Brighton Beach in the ’38 book. There are only 14 entries so I will list them for your info. Surnames are : Backstrom, Foster, Gray HM private hotel Brighton Beach Estate (?), Grundy, Harcourt Hotel (AB Harcourt) , Hedges, Hollis, Marine Garage and Tea Room (AC Borchardt owner) Ridden, Rogne , Shurtliffe, Stevens, Steytler, Whittaker. No Howard but it could be they were not listed. Only three of those listed had telephones!

    I do not mind looking up and trying to solve riddles for people but I find it a bit disconcerting in that people ask and then never come back to say whether the info was helpful or not. For example Lara Colley was put right as to where Kia Ora Tearoom was but she has never responded.

    • Terry McCann says:

      Gerald, thanks for responding.

      Bingo on a couple of counts and I am thrilled about one in particular.
      First, the division of Durban explains why, as a Boy Scout, there was always a reference to ‘Durban and Districts’. Interesting. Ridge Road is really not very far.

      Hewitts: I never knew his initials nor where they lived. I am certain of the name because our family never referred to the tea room as Kia Ora but “Hewitt’s” as in, “Go to Hewitt’s and buy the paper.” He was just Mr. Hewitt to me and always spoke to me kindly. It was the same with Mr Douglas the grocer (“Go to Douglas…”, never, “Go to the grocer”) and Mr Symmonds the chemist. They all knew me by my name. Flour, sugar, mielie meal, etc. were all kept in big bins at Douglas’ and weighed out on a scale on the counter. The floor was a raised wooden platform. His sons were older than me and went to Glenwood. I went to DHS (1963).
      Sycamore Road: Abercorn is correct. I moved from there in 1956.
      Howard on the Bluff: Whittaker! BINGO!! (Fingers trembling as I type…) My grandmother (Howard nee Scully) remarried to Louis Whittaker. Would it be possible for you to take a photo of the Whittaker entry for me?
      Another request, please, if I may push my luck?
      Please can you look up (C?) McCann in your 38 directory either in Point Road or Riley Road.

      Thanks, Gerald, for your interest and help.

      • Terry McCann says:

        Oops. One more thing, please Gerald.
        Who stayed in 5 Abercorn, Sycamore Road in 1938 and who stayed in Number 1 of the same block?

        Thanks in advance.

      • Gerald Buttigieg says:

        Hi Terry,
        C McCann 272 Point Road . There are two other McCann entries, maybe related? E L McCann 28 McArthur St. which is down by Albert Park area and Mrs J W McCann 17 Beach Park Residences which were in Old Fort Road (no street number given). I will take the photo and contact you “privately” as I feel this is not the place to put email addresses / phone numbers / contact details.

    • Lara Colley says:

      Hi Gerald,
      I never received a reply to my question – it may have gone into my “junk” folder and disappeared into cyber space. Thank you very much for taking the time to do some research. I am now living in Australia and have many New Zealand children in my class who greet me with “Kia Ora” so I was so interested to read my great grandfather’s memoirs (via a grandson called Allan Lowe) – that he frequented a tea room called Kia Ora – obviously given the name by a New Zealand traveller….. In the memoirs it said that Allan went to visit my great grandfather who lived “under canvas” next to the Kia Ora tearoom at Fynnlands Beach. Allan must be confused if it was actually in Umbilo Road. On another note, my great grandmother was “Granny Holloway” a midwife whom I have been told, brough many durban babies into the world. My mum (Mavis Smith nee Copeland) told me many stories of her going with Granny Holloway on her trips around town doing her midwife work. Thanks again Gerald, Lara

      • Gerald Buttigieg says:

        Hi Lara,
        Just for info, all replies to queries are done on the FAD site. Unless it is a sensitive matter then replies are done privately but otherwise the request is handled here. This enables other readers to perhaps add to the topic or information. As you see above, I was able to help Terry McCann and he added what he knew of Kia Ora Tearoom. Another help would be to give dates or approximate dates then we know what era we are looking at. These days I know Great grand mothers who are not that old so date indication will help.
        I definitely cannot find any indication of Kia Ora Tearoom being on the Bluff. The 1938 Directory I have is the era you mention and it is pretty comprehensive as far as Durban is concerned.

    • Steven Jones says:

      Just following on about KiaOra tearoom, There is a road on the bluff calked Kiora rd
      any link in name between the two?

  29. Jill Aiston says:

    Good morning, this is so interesting. I lived on the bluff from the late 50′s to 1969. Would it be possible for you to look up my dad in the phone directory? He was C H Myers, and his brother : EA Myers. Thank you so much

    • Gerald Buttigieg says:

      Hi Jill,
      Sorry not replying sooner but there are so many posts now they get lost in the topics. There are three Myers listed in the 1938 Directory. F Myers living at 532a Stamford Hill Rd, Rachelle Myers 8 Challinor’s Bldgs, and TW Myers 278 Windermere Rd. In the 1968 Directory there is EA Myers 81 Graingerlea which is a block of flats at 42 Broad Street. CH Myers lived at 3050 Marine Drive and looking at his telephone number this was in the Fynnlands area. There are 11 Myers listed. I knew Warren Myers from the Bluff, a class mate at St. Henry’s (Marist Brothers) in 1961.

  30. Sandy ( nee Pitman) van Niekerk says:


    I have read all the above and would like to know if and where I can find any information on my Grandparents Victor Allison Pitman and Emily (nee Cheek) Pitman, grandmother born in 1895 not sure when my Grandfather was born. They had 4 daughters Ivy Mavis Olive and Hazel and a son Thurlow Charles Pitman. My Grandfather built a lot of houses on the Bluff and many of the roads one which he called Pitman Rd and some of the other roads he named after his relatives. I would like to know a bit more about them and their descendents. Any info would help. Thanks

  31. Derek Austin says:

    SYSTEM 01
    REFERENCE 3037/1972
    PART 1
    STARTING 19720000
    ENDING 19720000
    Appears he landed in a mental institution.
    SYSTEM 01
    REFERENCE M2244/1954
    PART 1
    STARTING 19540000
    ENDING 19540000
    He died in 1955 it appears.
    SYSTEM 01
    REFERENCE 772/1955
    PART 1
    STARTING 19550000
    ENDING 19570000
    VOLUME_NO 1/5/329
    SYSTEM 01
    REFERENCE 61/1921
    PART 1
    STARTING 19210000
    ENDING 19210000
    If you go to the archives in PMB and give these reference numbers you can view the files and photograph them. Normally 2 days notice is required so they can fetch the files.

    Regards Derek

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