posted in: Mini Memories | 118

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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118 Responses

  1. Gerald Buttigieg

    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

      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

      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

      • Sue Wessels

        Jim Meredith’s daughter was married to a great uncle of mine, Laurence Murrell. We’ve got a photo of the houseboat somewhere that I could dig up, with Mr Miller standing on the wharf next to it.

      • Moira Badstubner (nee Williams)

        Barbara Groom was a violin/viola player in Edward Dunn’s orchestra She married and became Mrs Aitcheson.

      • margaret

        Errol and Leonard groom went to Brighton beach school with me

    • glynn symes

      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

        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.

        • Claudine Doble

          Hi I came across your post about a Doble family that ran the Dobleton poultry farm, I was wondering if you knew what year that was round about? and if you knew there first names. I I’m busy researching my husbands family history, and I would be most grateful for any information, that perhaps I could link this family to ours.
          Many Thanks Claudine Doble

          • Gerald Buttigieg

            Hi Claudine,
            The poultry farm was at 2268 Marine Drive and it was still operating in 1968. The Dobles had a son named Robert who married a Dutch immigrant girl with the surname Brandse. They had a daughter who was about 6 years old in the mid 1960s. So she would be about 50 ish today. Cannot recall the names of the Dobles but Mr Doble’s initials were W.A.

          • Yvette Pallent

            My Grandmother was brought up on the Bluff – Phoebe Agnes Doble, who was the daughter of Robert. We have quite an extensive Family Tree here in Joburg kept up to date by my cousin Elizabeth (Phoebe’s eldest daughter’s child). As far as I know the Dobles were on the Bluff during the Boer War and they left before the Great War so I think the Poultry farm was around 1910 ish? My mother never mentioned it and she was born 1916.?? Please contact me if you are interested. Would love to hear from you.

          • Hi. I am 74 and knew Beppie Brandse . She was the person who ran the Church youth group. She was also the bookkeeper/accountant at McCord hospital and organised visits for us to Inanda Seminary. She married Robbie Doble and helped run the farm.
            The Brandser family came from Holland and their father was a well respected master builder and built a house for my father in law in Lighthouse road which my husband bought from his father.
            I went to Fynnlands school and we were transfered to Bushlands school in 1953 when it was built. Mr Brown was the first headmaster and students used to pull out the weeds in the lawn which had been planted to make the school look “pretty” as our field was just bare earth.
            There was a shop opposite the back of the school (I can;t remember the name) which used to sell cream doughnuts which we loved.

      • SusanLategan

        Hi Glynn, I lived on the Bluff from 1950 until 2003 and obviously saw many changes and experienced the growth of the Bluff from almost bush to a totally built-up suburb that it is today. The Daytons Ctr was not where OK bazaars was (the medical Ctr today) it was where the Spar in Bluff road is, that Ctr was called Daytons Ctr.
        I remember when Garvies beach had a single storey hotel at the bottom of Sloan Rd on the beach, the owners were the Garvies hence the name. Over time the family passed on and the hotel was abandoned and left to the elements.
        Bushlands school was built somewhere around 1953 or 1954
        The army camp at the end of the Bluff used to send a donkey cart from the army camp up to Dunville/Beacon road Dairy to fetch fresh milk on a regular basis.
        From our front lawn we could watch the mail ships entering Durban harbour.
        I could probably write a book about the Bluff during the 53 years I lived there.
        Regards Susan

        • Glynn Symes

          Hi Susan,
          Thank you for the comments and recollections. I have been spending time refeshing the fading memory in preparation for a planned visit in August; probably the last after so very, very long! Every bit of info helps.
          Yes, I left there when large parts of our neighbourhood were still under bush. For example, in the direct vicinity of GBHSwhere I attained my primary education was the ‘famous’ bushpath connecting the Alex Theatre to the top of Baudry Road. This was also part of the Cross Country athletics route which we used back then. I see from Google Earth that it is now all developed.
          OK Centre? Your recollection is correct. At first it was called Dayton Centre, and only later became OK Centre when the OK Bazaars became the main tennant. A branch of the Tattersalls was located under the building. The Centre was built by the construction company owned by my late father and his partners about 1964, I am not sure of exactly when.
          If anything of interest creeps out of the woodwork, I would be pleased to hear it. Please feel free to contact me directly on my e-Mail address “”
          Thanks and regards,
          Glynn Symes
          Munich, Germany and/or Beirut, Lebanon.

          • Heeralall Sewnath

            Thanks. I was born in 1952 at 402 Brighton Road and till today I yearn the loss of our family home to the notorious Group Areas Act. I have vivid memories of Brighton Beach and other developments encroached the area and finally declared that small Indian community as pariahs in the area and finally got rid of them

      • Stan Jooste

        Hi Glynn. You are right about Stan the lifesaver. He was my father Stan Jooste. I remember many stories about Brighton beach over the years. Sadly he passed away in 2010.
        Stan Jooste (jnr)

        • Glynn Symes

          Hello Stan junior,
          Thank you for the comment. For me, those were the greatest carefree days anyone could have wished for. I too am in the evening of my life, but I still have vivid memories from those times. As kids we were awe-inspired just watching the weight training that your dad did with his lifesaving colleagues outside the clubhouse. Sweat pouring from him from the effort, soaking his downturned red lifeie bathing outfit. I often wondered why he sported a beard such as his in Durbans heat and humidity?
          Two incidents I remember particularly well. Being a professional lifie, he was obviously fit and extremely well tanned, they all were. One day whilst they were doing training lengths in the tidal pool, he was baulked by one of his equally dark-tanned colleagues. The comment that your dad yelled, I will never forget. I split my sides. If you would like to know what it was, e-Mail me at ‘’ and I will share it with you.
          On another occasion, the high tide was particularly wild. Huge waves breaking right over the pool, even to the end of the causeway. Not many were with me in the pool that day. I was a good swimmer and enjoyed hanging onto the chains and letting myself being washed off by those waves right into the middle of the pool; when I noticed a gent floating too long, face down next to me. It was clear to me what his problem was. I immediately turned him over and swam him to the beach side of the pool and was battling to pull him out of the water; hell, I was only a boy of appriximately 10 at the time. I became aware of strong hands suddenly taking over; they were those of your dad. The patients lungs were cleared right there at the poolside by your dad and a colleague who had joined him, and mouth to mouth was given. An ambulance soon arrived and took them all off to hospital somewhere; probably Wentworth. Your dad approached me when he saw me a few days later to thank me for effectively saving the gents life. He put an arm around my shoulders; “That was a good effort, from such a small lad”: he quipped.
          Best regards,
          Glynn Symes,
          Munich, Germany and/or Beirut, Lebanon

        • Moira Badstubner (nee Williams)

          I am sure I knew one or both of the Mrs/Miss Jooste…from the early days….Moira from Marine Drive Garage…

        • Hennelie Tyldesley

          Hi there Stan,
          So glad to see your name. For years Mike and myself were looking for him… I was also friendly with Cecile in 1965 and we often visited Stan at his Grey Park road residence – the one below Noel road and not the one near Marine Drive where he bred tropical fish. Mike was a lifesaver at Brighton Beach and Stan was the boss.

  2. 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

      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.

  3. Keith Titmuss

    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

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

    • Gerald Buttigieg

      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

        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

            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?

          • Glynn Symes

            Hello George, I have only just seen your post which goes all the way back to 2013; I don’t know how I missed it and hopefully this reaches you! We were class colleagues from standards 6 – 10 at GBH, and I too participated in the move to the new school building. The chair throwing antic I do recall, but not who did what to whom or why? Before writing this, I prepared a list of some 40 class names and teaching staff as far as I could recall them. I am sure that seeing who they were as far as I can recall them, will bring back many more memories of those bygone days. If you would, please send your e-mail address to me at “”, and I will mail it to you. (I have nothing against my e-mail address hitting the open pages). There are a few names in particular on my list whom I would really like to again contact, together with any others who may be interested in doing so. These I will highlight when I send it. Your being much closer to the old stamping ground, maybe you can help with contact information?
            Warm greetings from Munich.
            Glynn Symes, 2015-05-06

        • 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

            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

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

        • George Askew

          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

            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,

  4. Angela Naidoo

    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

      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

        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

  5. Elizabeth How

    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

      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.

  6. Elizabeth How

    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.

  7. Gerald Buttigieg

    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.

  8. Elizabeth How

    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

  9. 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

      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.

  10. J.Dube`

    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

      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

        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)

  11. Elizabeth How

    I should also say thank you for posting that photograph’

  12. Michele Tilley - nee Groenewald

    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…

  13. Gerald Buttigieg

    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

      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

      • Glynn Symes

        Hello Michelle,
        Another old post that I have only just discovered which goes back so long. I was a pupil at Brighton Beach Primary from standard 3 to standard 5, under headmistress Mrs Wife. Perhaps we were in the school at the same time, who knows? Whilst I was there, the deputy head was Mr Monks. Maybe he rsucceed Mrs Edds. His abrasive nature I recall very well indeed. Mrs Edds I did not know. My class teachers for these years were Mrs Nice, Miss Pearce and Mrs Fowles respectively. I must have been around 9 years old on arrival at the school. That would have then been around 1957. I used to go to Sea Scouts in the old St Margarets hall every Friday at the time. The hall was clearly no longer being used for educational purposes.
        The name Tilley (of Tilley Doors)?? Do you have any relationship through marriage to a guy called Rodney Tilley, who lived close to the school. He was in class with my sister Pat (Patricia) Symes at Tankerton High. He would be around my sisters age, now 73. Despite our age difference, I used to sit in his group of (matric I think) aquaintances at the old school during every break to eat our lunches. A very pleasant and presentable gentleman he was.
        Greetings from Munich, Germany,
        Glynn Symes 2015-05-06
        As a PS: somewhere in these posts somebody recalled that there was a Clover Dairy behind the OK Centre. The manager of the dairy and his wife, were called George and Ethel Smith; friends of my parents.

  14. Jo Wallstrom

    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

  15. mickey smith

    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!

  16. Ian van Biljon

    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

  17. Jane Jelley. Maiden name Jane Keddie

    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.

  18. Joyce Collett

    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….

  19. Gerald Buttigieg

    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

      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.

  20. 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

  21. 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.

    • clive olivier

      Hi George
      Just saw this link.
      I knew Balu who was the Indian fisherman who lived in carriage at north pier pipe very well. I once played truant at school for a week and fished for him every day on jetty next to the sewerage pipe. Caughtplenty of blue shad on live pinkies.i was about 11 or 12.
      Contact me
      I live in the UK now
      Ex. Aircraft marine etc

  22. Gerald Buttigieg

    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

      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.

  23. glynn symes

    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)

  24. Lara Colley


    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,

  25. Gerald Buttigieg

    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?

  26. Gerald,
    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.

  27. Gerald Buttigieg

    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.

    • 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.

      • 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

        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

      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

        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

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

  28. Jill Aiston

    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

      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.

  29. Sandy ( nee Pitman) van Niekerk


    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

  30. Derek Austin

    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

  31. Vicki Leal (nee Knock)

    Have just read this site – many memories – Peter Whittaker had a sister Cherry? I first moved to Brighton Beach in the 50’s – my mother was told she would not fight with the neighbours as St. Margarets was over the road! I knew Michelle Gronewald – lived opposite her -Attended Brighton Beach Govt School and then went to Maris Stella – this site has brought back so many memories and names – Laureen Pitman married Brian James, son of George James who had the tearoom in Marine Drive – also knew the Grey Family and can remember the Inn because we used to take a shortcut to Marine Garage to get mulberry leaves for our silkworms – a gentleman named “Morgan” (Morgie) owned the garage – we walked everywhere then – so safe. We would finish school around two and take just about all afternoon to get home (Nirvana Road) We also had an old half drum which we kept at the bottom of the path near Brighton Breezy Shellhole which we paddled across to the Grosvenor side

    • Bronwyn

      Hi Vicki
      I wonder if you can maybe help. I’m just doing a bit of research for my mom.
      She used to live in a single row of flats located on top of a tea room on Marine Drive in the 1960s/70s. I think it might be the one you refer to owned by George James.
      On Google Earthe we have located the property which appears to be either 36 Marine Drive, The Bluff. Here is a link to the image,+Bluff,+4052/@-29.9008,31.038496,3a,52.5y,284h,90t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sKUsdA2TofxYQtOsdAK4oGA!2e0!4m2!3m1!1s0x1ef7a8de8e3d251d:0xa09ecda00bcc52d2
      It would appear to have several residential flats situated above a handful of small businesses today.
      In the 60s/70s my mom says there was a tea room at the bottom on the left side. I’m just trying to find the name of this old tea room or a contact number for someone who can tell me more about the previous owners or the history of the place. Perhaps you might remember the name if it is the same tea room?
      I look forward to your response
      Kind regards

    • Moira Badstubner (nee Williams)

      hello from another “old” friend…lots of love to both of you Moira

    • Moira Badstubner (nee Williams)

      My husband and I bought the Marine Drive Garage from Morgie – who used to service the funicular at the hotel in the early days,..

  32. Hennelie Tyldesley

    My husband was a professional lifesaver at Brighton Beach in the early sixties and worked with Stan Joose (wonder if anyone knows what happend to him). And did you know that Grosvenor High School (before the split) was called Tankerton High School hence the Tankerton shopping centre at the corner of Watsonia and Gatwick roads(then Clarkson road). Hubby grew up on the Bluff and played soccer for Fynnland Soccer Club.

    • Stan Jooste

      Hi Hennelie.
      Stan Jooste was my dad. After Brighton beach is moved to Toti and later became beach manager over there. In the mid 80s he was medically retired and moved up to Hillcrest. Sadly he passed away in early 2010.
      Stan Jooste (jnr)

    • Moira Badstubner (nee Williams)

      I wonder why the name Deidre Hansen is so familiar to me…..she was a friend of my children. We lived at 1686 which changed to 767 Marine Drive from about 1978/2003….yes they lived down the road from us next to the Nicholas family…..

    • Moira Badstubner (nee Williams)

      I sent you a short note but it didn’t go through…best wishes from and “old” friend…Moira

  33. Heather Hansen (nee Bezuidenhout)

    I googled “funicular” and this website came up! So interesting reading all the memories and history of the Bluff. I was born in Durban in 1960 and spent the first 20 years of my life on the Bluff before moving to Cape Town. We lived in Worthing Avenue in Fynnlands and I went to Marlborough Park Junior School, then to Fynnlands Primary School and on to Grosvenor Girls High School. Although we didn’t have much money, I remember my childhood fondly. We kids seemed to have such freedom – played on the streets, walked many many kms a day exploring (without adults) – to the beach and to the viewpoint overlooking Durban harbour. My mother (Una Crowe) worked at Brighton Beach in admin when I was little and I have great memories of Ansteys Beach, the funicular going up to the Harcourt Hotel, the paddling pools, the tidal pool and especially eating the most delicious home made curries made by the two wonderful Indian ladies with hearts of gold, Marie and Denim who worked with my mom. Not sure if anyone remembers my siblings Debbie, Fiona and brother Mike Allnutt?

  34. Hi All,

    I am looking for the History of Fynnland Combined Sports Club. Is there anybody who can help me.

  35. Richard Millar

    Dear Memories, it seems so long ago I went to B Beach primary, GH (co-ed) and later GBH, attended St Margarets ( Sea Scouts), sang church anthems Sundays with Heather Simpson, boxed with the Ribbincks, flew kites, played sports, played and did vocals for the band we formed ( the In Sound), went to ‘sessions’, surfed on a 3 mtr Banana Board, made gunpowder, sang competitively at the Little Top, went to Tiles and had late nite coffees at the Matador ( in the arcade between Greenacres and the Hub ) or double-thick Malts at Tropicale, dived almost ev’ry other week for a sack of Crays, went to Midnight Shows, received a Std 8 report reccomending my parents remove me from school ”cos there is nothing more we can teach Richard”. We lived in so many places: Marathon rd, Clunas rd, Marine drive Crossways, Bushlands, Mabel Mount, and our last years were at 123 Nirvana rd Graham, (died suicide-1997) Sheenah, (living in Israel) and me, Richard. I’m happily married to Enid Hart (also from Nirvana rd) . We live in Sea Point, Cape town and I write Christian songs, play acoustic guitar. I recently recorded an Album. Anyone remember me ?

    • Bronwyn

      Hi Richard
      I wonder if you can maybe help. I’m just doing a bit of research for my mom.
      She used to live in a single row of flats located on top of a tea room on Marine Drive in the 1960s/70s.
      On Google Earthe we have located the property which appears to be either 36 Marine Drive, The Bluff. Here is a link to the image,+Bluff,+4052/@-29.9008,31.038496,3a,52.5y,284h,90t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sKUsdA2TofxYQtOsdAK4oGA!2e0!4m2!3m1!1s0x1ef7a8de8e3d251d:0xa09ecda00bcc52d2
      It would appear to have several residential flats situated above a handful of small businesses today.
      In the 60s/70s my mom says there was a tea room at the bottom on the left side. I’m just trying to find the name of this old tea room or a contact number for someone who can tell me more about the previous owners or the history of the place. Perhaps you might remember the name if it is the same tea room having lived in the area?
      I look forward to your response
      Kind regards

    • Glynn Symes

      Hello Richard,
      My recent communications with others from the GBHS era on this portal are bringing back more memories that expected!!
      Your name too has started a bell ringing, but I don’t think that you were in our class. It was your comment ‘boxing with Garth and Darryl’ which did it. Were you not one of the ‘contestants’ in the ‘barney’ with a guy called Army (probably from the name Armstrong), which took place below the banks of the playing field which was being prepared at the new GBHS? The barney which earned you the nickname ‘Lucky Strike’? If so, this is precisely the kind of recollection which I nuture at this stage of my life.
      As stated in a post elsewhere on this portal, I have compiled a list of all my class colleagues and teaching staff at the time. I am sure that a copy of the same will spark many a memory for you. You are free to mail me at “”, which address I intentionally make public for anybody from that era who may be interested in swopping notes and memories.
      Best regards,
      Glynn Symes
      Munich, Germany and/or Beirut, Lebanon

      • Richard Millar

        Hey Glynne.
        You have a great memory. It was I who knocked him out but it was his own fault for constantly picking on me.
        It was he who insisted on a fight. I always did whatever I cud to avoid fighting which was precisely why he kept pushing his luck as for some reason known only to himself he thought I was ‘chicken’. I meant to knock him out altho’ it did earn me the ‘lucky strike’name afterwards.
        All the best,

        • Glynn Symes

          Hi Richard,
          Bingo. The fading old memory never let me down this time.
          I read your original post again and it triggered further vivid memories. Perhaps if I send you a copy of the ’66 class colleagues list which I have compiled, it would give you too the opportunity to embark on a trip of nostalgia. I still have clear recollections of dozens of tales which I could share, some of which you may recall. If you would like a copy, do let me know by e-Mail at the address given in my June 12 post.
          It was nice hearing from you. Have a good day,
          Munich, Germany or Beirut, Lebanon

        • Hi Richard. I stumbled across this site and find it so interesting. My father grew up on the bluff. I noticed that you boxed with the Ribbinks, did you know my father Allan Aliphon? He was a boxer and they were great friends. Regards Jennifer.

  36. charles morton

    The “Stan” the lifesaver at Brighton Beach was Stan Jooste. He lived just off Gray Park Rd below Marine Garage. He was probably one of the last group of professional lifeguards who worked all the way through to pension.

    There was also a well known attendant who looked after the changerooms – we all called him Moon. I guess his name was probably Munsamy. Also a very kind and helpful soul.

    • Glynn Symes

      Hello Charlie,
      Having tramped the same hunting ground (and beach) as you did so long ago really brings on a strong ‘attack’ of nostalgia. So many memories, of antics in and out of the classroom at GBHS, all the names, all the faces! I have compiled a list of all class comrades who generally remained together from standards 6 to matric, together with the teaching staff at the time.
      For us, it all started with our ‘hike’, each lugging a chair from the old co-ed school to the new building. And the recollection of your chair flying into the bush on the way. Who was involved in that one, and why fails me completely, but at the time it was really funny.
      I would really like to make contact with as many of the old class as possible; to swop notes on which paths through life were chosen by each. Where are they all now? For yourself, and anybody else who may be interested in such, please feel free to contact me by e-Mail “”. I have no problem with my e-Mail address being distributed to those who would like to have I copy of the names list which I refer to above.
      Best greetings,
      Glynn Symes
      Munich, Germany and/or Beirut, Lebanon.

  37. Gerald Buttigieg

    Hi Glynn,
    Reminiscing on old times can be fun and hooking up with old friends enjoyable. Although not from the Bluff myself, I had quite a few friends there. You mentioned Maxwell Avenue. Do you remember the Pedersens at No. 47. Ashley the younger son is now living in New Zealand ( when last heard of) and his elder brother still in Durban. Rodney Tilley is now living in Australia.

    • Glynn Symes

      Hello Gerald,
      Thank you. The Pedersen brothers I knew. We played together as kids; often being invited to participate in their games of hide and seek under the floor of their home. I can still ‘see’ their wonderfully productive vegetable patch, so lovingly cared for by their dad. To see him toiling in the boiling sun with watering can in hand spreading diluted fowl manure, I cannot forget.
      Both my younger brother Hilton and myself have also lived abroad for >20 years apiece. Hilton has long since had dual Australian and SA citizenship, and flits between homes in Sydney, Hamilton, Melbourne and Sandton.
      Thanks also for the note on Rodney Tilley. I remember him well, a refined and pleasant young man he was. We also used to coincidentally cross paths regularly at the Durban ice rink on the weekends. Notwithstanding my earlier comments about sharing place with Rodney and his circle of friends (all my senior by a good 3 years I guess) on the prefab steps to eat our lunches, he is unlikely to remember me. He is more my sister Patricias age; she was at Tankerton High at the same time as Rodney. I will pass the note on to my sister (now 72) who lives in Sandton.
      Not only am I planning a trip to SA in August, I only yesterday spoke at length with a friend of mind to arrange one last tour of South Island in his native New Zealand aboard my beloved motorbike, before that gets retired as well.
      Best greetings,
      Glynn Symes
      Munich. Germany and/or Beirut, Lebanon.

      • Colin Kenton

        I came across this site today for the first time and have read the posts with intertest and with fond memories of my early years (1957-83) of living in Frederick Avenue, Marlborough Park. The reason for my post is I am looking to establish the details of my Grandhather (first name and date of birth etc.) who was the father of my dad, Ken Kenton and his brothers Alf and Lawrence, all of whom owned the Kentons Bottle Store at Wentworth. I would appreciate any help. Thanks, Colin

  38. Richard Millar

    Hey Bronny,
    wish I cud help. I remember the tea-room very well at the top end (past B Beach Lighthouse end) of Marine Drive. But alas, that’s about it. Sorry I can’t help you.
    Best wishes,

  39. Richard Millar

    Hey Jenny,
    do you know which club he belonged to. Was it Wentworth Shellhole, Assegai, or Fynlands or Umbilo. I trained at all three. Where is your dad now? Where did you guys live? Im trying to remember…. …Its a little while back.

  40. Nikki Jones

    Hi all.
    Very interesting page on the Bluff. Does anyone have any information on the Shortt ( yes 2 t’s! 🙂 family who were very early residents of the area. Portland Bentinck Shortt and his wife Jane Sara ( nee Wakefield) lived on a farm called New Brighton in the 1860s. I think there is also an area called Shortt’s retreat. Their son Francis James Bentinck Shortt was a light house keeper in the area. I have lots of names and dates but would love to flesh them out with details pics and anecdotes.
    Best wishes

    • Rodney Coyne

      There is an area called Shortts Retreat in Pietermaritzburg, now a light industrial area. It is near the top of the hill leading from Ashburton to Pietermaritzburg on the old main road. The hill is better known as Polly Shortts (and yes, it is very often misspelt), the last steep hill of the up-run of the Comrades Marathon. I have read about who Polly Shortt was, but can’t tell you off hand – I will check and post the information later, if somebody else doesn’t come up with the information first.

      • Rodney Coyne

        I found the following information on the website Run Robin Run:-

        One story that I particularly like is written about by Anne Lemkuhl. She says that in 1961 The Natal Mercury (a newspaper) traced the name of this hill, and published a report on the origins of the name Polly Shortts. According to the researchers of the Natal Mercury, “Portland Bentinck SHORTTS (aka Polly) [was born in South Africa to British parents and after his mother died he] went back to Britain with his father, but returned to South Africa in 1840. Polly settled outside Pietermaritzburg on a farm he named Shortts’ Retreat. This was about a mile away from the Star and Garter Pub, which was built 25 yards outside the Pietermaritzburg boundary and was therefore free to sell liquor on Sundays. Polly was an eccentric character and regular visitor to the pub. He loved his whisky, but had a fiery temper, and would often point his shotgun at anyone who annoyed him while he sat on the stoep enjoying his drink. He settled at New Brighton on the Bluff in 1869, where he lived with his wife Jane Sarah until his death on 28 February 1885. He made a living from fish-curing, a salt works and making jam.”.

        (There is a garage/filling station on the same old main road called Portland motors, so no doubt there is some connection there too. )

  41. Dorothy Garavarian (nee van Staden)

    HI am very keen to know the history and purpose of the two white water towers/reservoirs on the Bluff, the one being corner of Beacon and Bluff Roads near Daytons Shopping Centre, and the other on Marine Drive near the lighthouse. I cannot find any info on the Internet and am very curious having lived on the Bluff since 1967.

    • Gerald Buttigieg

      Hi Dorothy,
      My late father in law Archie Black lived on the Bluff for many years and kept newspaper cuttings of happenings mainly in and around Durban. In the 1965 book he has a cutting of the ball shaped water reservoir on the Bluff nearing completion. I am not sure where it is located. The reservoir held 68000 gallons of water and cost R70 000 to build. The water tower is 84 feet high. To get the ball shape, glass fibre shuttering was used. The purpose of building water reservoirs at such a height above the surrounding area is to have a reservoir and also improve the water pressure in the area. I have nothing on the other water tower.

  42. Roxy Grant

    Hi there, I am very interested in finding out the history of my home in Glenwood. The only details I have are the house plans, dated 1898. It is a semi-detached in Hewitt road.(off Brand road) One of my neighbors was raised in her house that she still lives in and she gave me a few quick facts that all the land in the road was owned by a man named Mr Hewitt (I dont know his first name?) and that he developed all the little houses in the road. I was wondering if you could assist me with the how and where to obtain detailed history of my house and the history of the road. I cant find any online info and I was hoping someone could direct me where I would go to dig through papers etc, I would just love to put together a story of my home. Thanks

  43. Gerald Buttigieg

    Hi Roxy,
    You do not give the number of your house in Hewitt Road which would help but here is the listing from the 1938 Durban Directory.
    Left hand side
    10 TE Collen
    12 R Brown
    16A E Oliver
    16 Robert Gavin
    18 – Harper
    20 Vacant
    22 T Phillips (Blacksmith)
    24 C Moore
    26 H Smith
    28 LH Atkinson
    30 WK Harrison
    32 T Gammon
    34 J Dippnall
    36 J Cooper
    38 GG Abraham (Carpenter)
    44 R Hewitt
    Right Hand Side
    Berea Bowling Club Links

    I looked up Hewitt Road in the Origin of Durban Street Names book but it is not listed. However you can take it as certain that Hewitt Road is named after the Hewitt family who resided in the road many years ago. This was standard policy it seems for naming suburban roads in Durban. It would appear that a Hewitt still lived there in 1938.
    The title deeds if you have them can be traced back as each buying and selling of a property would be recorded. The Deeds Office would have these records. As to previous owners you could also trace them by going to the Reference Library in Durban and look through early editions of the Durban Directories. The last time I used the reference library in Durban it was in the building corner, Aliwal and West Street.
    The Killie Campbell Library in Durban also has vast records but that would entail you making time to “dig through papers” as you say. Researching for information is not easy but then at times it can be very interesting what you unearth. By the way have you been into your roof? You will be surprised what some people have found in their roof spaces!!

  44. Laurence Olivier

    I lived in Marine Drive in the late 50’s and some of my friends were George Gray, Jimmy James(Brian), Tony Hesp and his sister Barabara, Keith Priestly, Patricia Murgatroyd, Elsa Van der Velde, Helen Jordan and many others. Oddly enough I never knew Laureen Pitman then but know her now because she married Brian James.
    All did well.
    Pat ended up in Canada, George is in the UK, Jimmy James in the UK, and I am in Australia!
    Golden years indeed. I went to Glenwood. Well do I remember the opening of the Bluff Drive In because we were working there as traffic helpers but got fired after the first night because we were not really needed. Which was interesting because George Gray was the son of the man who put up the money, the famous Mr Gray who at one stage owned all the land that most of the bluff housing was built on!
    I learn to surf there and we spent many happy hours swimming and fishing.

  45. Gerald Buttigieg

    Hi Laurence,
    A “George Gray” joined the Dept of Posts and Telecomms in 1963 as a Pupil Technician. I wonder if it the same person you knew. If I recall he had just matriculated from Durban Tech (or was it George Campbell by then?). Brian Lillee,Don Powell, John Dawes, Mike Lonsdale were some of his contemporaries.

  46. Frank Beeton

    Hi Laurence and Gerald. I think the same George Gray was a fellow officer in 1 Signal Squadron (Citizen Force/Lord’s Grounds) in the late 1960’s/early 70’s. Our OC, Major Norman MacDonald was also a Posts/Telecomms man. You also mentioned Don Powell, who was a senior NCO in our unit. Many P&T guys did their Army training in the SA Corps of Signals, for obvious reasons.

  47. Gerald Buttigieg

    Hi Frank,
    Thanks for that. I knew Norman McDonald quite well. If he is still alive he must be in his 90s now.

  48. HI All, i read the article on the Bluff with interest. Keith Titmuss is quite correct. He sent me the photos of the Mangroves and Alex theatre. I placed them on my web site page called Bluff history which i was compiling. Unfortunately someone copied the entire page and emailed it out and it ended up going around the world. I was the original compiler/ writer of the article and had help from people like Kieth Titmuss, Gerald Pigg and Peter Whitaker
    Rake Jeeves

  49. Beryl Venables

    I came to Durban in 1972, first to stay with a couple I had met in England and then to work for a dentist in Durban, Walter Rothwell. Returning home on my open dated Union Castle return ticket two years later.
    I knew my friends had been teachers in Durban, but probably never knew where, so seeing a mention of ‘Jocelyn Shanks – who could forget?’ think she may have taught on the Bluff.
    Jos and husband returned to Durban and I stayed with them when I first arrived – Ocean Terminal – but have lost contact with them both now.
    Jos did tell me she had done a mural on the wall of multi storey car park – ?Mitchell Square, have often wondered if it is still there, doubt it.
    I acquired a lovely b/w photo over here many years ago that is taken from the Tollgate bridge looking down Berea Road before the first dual carriageway was built. Must look it out and send it.
    Remember going to the Telephone exchange to phone home at Christmas.
    Fond memories of sun, drive-in’s and even a visit to the tearoom bioscope, and a lovely employer.

    • Frank Beeton

      Hi Beryl, with regard to Jocelyn Shanks, I can confirm that a “Miss J. Shanks” was included in the 1961 staff list for Grosvenor High School (the co-ed school). There was no mention of her in the boys’ school magazine in 1962, the year that the school split into separate entities so, presumably she had
      stayed on at the girls’ school or moved on.

  50. Gerald Buttigieg

    Hi Beryl,
    When reading posts like yours I sometimes, just out of interest, try to flesh out the post by looking up names in an old Durban Directory I have.
    There were quite a few dentists in Durban at that time and some were well known, others obscure. I looked up the dentists but Rothwell was not listed amongst them but there was a GP; Dr TW Rothwell 47 Wanless Road, Glenwood area (?). Maybe a relation.
    There are 4 Shanks listed in the directory, with one J Shanks.
    Now the mural is interesting. The parking garage was Nicol Square. I cannot recall when the end of the freeway eventually joined up with Commercial Road, but at the end of the free way is a robot and right in front of you across the road is Nicol Square. It has a large facade facing the freeway and possibly this is where the mural was. It would have been the ideal place but to cover that size wall would have been an enormous mural. Nicol Square still exists but I think with the change in demographics in the City Centre and the amount of “TO LET” signs one sees in the CBD, the parking garages are not as busy as they used to be.
    Regarding the telephone exchange you went to, to phone home at Christmas, would that have been at the Main Post Office building ? Although I never used it, I seem to recall they had that facility laid on there. Sun we still have, drive ins and tearoom bisocopes are history!

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