Sparks Estate.

 

I mentioned that I visited Evelyn House in Richmond in a previous post, see Elizabeth Robb’s Memories. I was loaned a little booklet giving some detail of the Sparks Family by Mrs Maureen Stoute, a descendant and Evelyn House resident, who gave me permission to put the notes up on FAD.

The main body of the the booklet is a long family tree which I did not put up but what I did was extract the parts that are relevant to Durban namely the area we know today as Sparks Estate. It is a short memoir.  There are very few pictures and I include the best ones. The little booklet is undated as to when it was written.

THE SPARKS SETTLERS

by

David Gifford N. Sparks

Introduction/Foreword

From records to hand the first Sparks family to land in South Africa came out with the 1820 Settlers – they sailed with Sephton’s Party in the ship “Aurora” .

Henry Sparks and his wife Mary, sailed out to this country in the year 1817 when he was 30 years old. They landed at Angola Bay Cape then made their way up to Grahamstown.

Details of the family are as follows:

Henry Sparks (1787) died 1871,  84 years of age

spouse Mary (1780)  died 1859,  79 years of age

The family details are as follows:

Mary Jane Sparks (1838)   spouse Thomas Ikin Cockcraft (1857)

Henry George Tufslar Sparks (1840) spouse Margaret Manly (1865) died 1837

Sarah Elizabeth Sparks (1842)  spouse Charles Callaghan

Martha Ann Sparks (1844) spise James Temblett Hockey

John Benjamin Knott Sparks (1847)

The second family of Sparks to sail out to South Africa were two brothers Thomas Sparks and David Sparks.

Thomas Sparks (1826) landed at Port Elizabeth, Cape Province in 1850.

David Sparks (1828) landed at Durban, Natal in 1850.

HISTORY OF A PIONEER DURBAN FAMILY

In January, 1850, David Sparks arrived at Port Natal in the good ship Ballengeich, after a voyage that had lasted the traditional three to four months. He was then about 20 years old, very energetic, and determined to make his way in the new country. It was not long before he got to work. The pay was small but food was cheap and he managed very well.

The wreck of the Minerva had an important part in his life. Among the passengers were Mr Thomas Walsh, Mr and Mrs William Walsh, and their sister, Miss Walsh, a pretty delicate girl, who had been sent on the voyage for her. health. She was t6 remain a year in Natal and then return home to Stockport, near Manchester, where her father was a medical man.

But young David Sparks and pretty Miss Elizabeth Walsh met and she did not go back to England, but founded one of Natal’s best-known families when she and David were married. Archdeacon Lloyd married them and as there was no wedding ring to be bought in the tiny town, Mrs Lloyd lent her ring. The wedding ring was a much married one, as it had been used for the same purpose many times until a jeweller or merchant decided there would be profit in stocking the like golden symbols of eternity.

Young Mr and Mrs David Sparks settled in the area now known as Sydenham. A portion of Brickfields Estate had been bought by him from Joseph Cato, and here two wattle and daub rondawels were built with the kitchen – a-lean-to-shelter – 10 or 12 yards away. Often at night Mrs Sparks was unable to get to the kitchen through leopards prowling around hungrily looking for tasty morsel of dog, cat or hen. The country was wild and heavy forests covered the Berea ridges through which wound a narrow track down to the township and the point.

Springfield Mill

Land was leased on Springfield Flats from Milner and Tyrell who owned the estate. A syndicate built a small sugar mill known as Potter’s Mill on a site at the foot of the first inland ridge from the Berea. David Sparks grew sugar cane and was doing quite well when the flood of 1856, which put the whole countryside under water between the Berea and Umhlanga, washed away the cane and put the mill three feet under water.

For months after that flood housewives were unable to buy so much as a pound of flour. The sailing ships failed to arrive at regular intervals, and the whole population lived on mealie-meal, beef bread, venison and such vegetables as they could grow in their gardens. Baboons and monkeys often spoiled or stole fruit and pumpkins and mealies while they were ripening.

Hippos were shot on  Flats because of the damage they did to the young crops. Adventures  with wild beasts and snakes were common place incidents in their daily lives. But for many years David Sparks never forgot one adventure. He came in very tired from his “fields and flung himself down onto the floor of the rondavel with his head on a hassock. His wife moved the candle to see if he was asleep and saw a nine-foot mamba coiled around his neck with it’s head only six inches away from his face. She called desperately: ” Wake up, David, wake up, but don’t move!” He woke, saw the snake and kept perfectly still. Then the mamba slowly uncoiled itself and glided to a comer of the rondavel where it was shot. Many years afterwards David Sparks could still feel the pressure of the snakes coil’s around his throat.

A fight with badgers

His native name of Insels was given after a fight with two badgers. David heard a terrific commotion in the fowl house and went out to investigate, taking with him his muzzle-loading blunderbuss. The badgers were robbing the hen-roost in wholesale style, so he pressed the trigger, but the gun misfired. The animals turned on him, clawing at his legs and clothes until these were in shreds while he broke the wooden butt of the gun over them and then beat them off with the steel barrels. He did kill them but paid the price with two months of illness from blood poisoning.

From the two rondavels Mr and Mrs Sparks moved into a house of six rooms built of wattle and daub and thatched roof in the best colonial style. This was luxury compared to the previous home and here Harry Sparks was born on March 3, 1854. After this a bigger house was built, David cut up a portion of the land he had bought from Joseph Cato and sold it in lots of two to five acres for building purposes. Many names still well known in Natal and around Durban were borne by the pioneers who settled in the wilderness, farming on leased land in the Springfield Estate and cultivating their own plots around their homes. Among these were Messrs Phillips, Spearman, Kinsman, Seager, Harvey, Churchhill, Tyrrell, Louch, Keal, Bell, Watson, Ingram, Hirst, Mc Corkindale, Stevens, Baker, Carter, Wilson, Clarence, Plowright, Seymour, Midgley, Kenworthy, Phipps, Hindle, Murdoch, Fernie and Adams. No descendants of these hardy folks live in Sydenham now, except Colonel Harry Sparks. They have scattered far and wide, and in some cases have left the country.

A House warming.

Some years after the selling of the plots David Sparks built himself a seven-roomed brick house with a slate roof – a home then thought to be one of the best and up-to­date in the Colony. When the house was finished being built a housewarming party was held. People came from all parts of Natal, in carts, on horseback and ox-wagons to camp out in the grounds around the house. That huge picnic lasted a whole week, everyone being in the highest spirits, taking part in the games and dancing and feasting that marked the entertainment. The David Sparks’s housewarming party was remembered for years. That was more than seventy years ago. It was at this festival that Sydenham got it’s name. Old George Spearman suggested three names: Sparksville, Parkville and Sydenham. David Sparks chose the name Sydenham, and the homestead was called Sydenham House.

Any improvements in the district were undertaken by the residents without Government help, and paid for by them. It brought the little community into close touch with each other when any big matter had to be tackled, such as the building of the  village school.  David Sparks gave two or three acres of land and the school was erected by the residents. The first schoolmaster was Mr Adams and everyone from the biggest children to the tiniest who could scarcely walk went to school. Mr Adams was succeeded by Mr Baker until years afterwards when a school board was appointed.

A communal effort.

Sydenham Hall was also a communal effort. David Sparks donated the site and the bricks. Mr Louch  supplied the galvanised iron for the roof, and the other residents found the money for the woodwork and the erection expenses. When the hall was finished, Sydenham became one of the most noted places in the Colony for entertainments, which included concerts and spelling bees. The late Harry Escombe took a leading part in these, Mrs Johnston of Waterloo Estate on the North Coast was a much appreciated performer; also Mr Lamport of Merebank, F.W. Louch, William Hartley and others who have passed on.

The first Congregational Church of Europeans at Sydenham was no bigger than 20 feet by 16 feet. It was built on the site given by the late Ralph Clarence, Senior of Clare Estate, and was a branch of the Smith Street Congregational Church of which the Rev. A. Mann was minister Once a month a good man known as “Father” Lennox walked out from Durban to take the service held in the church, which with the Sydenham Congregational Church cemetery, was in a lovely place. The Valley of a Thousand Hills could be seen from there as well as the winding Umgeni river, like a silver ribbon twisted around the cane fields. But the villagers did not think it a beautiful sight when they passed a bush full of baboons carrying the pumpkins stolen from their gardens.

The first minister of Sydenham Congregational Church was the Rev. John Fernie, who at the time was unmarried. He was assisted by “Father” Lennox. The Rev. J. Fernie returned to England where he married and eventually came out again to Natal with his wife to take charge of the new church at Sydenham.

Pioneer Farmers

Most of the residents of the district were farmers, planting their crops on land  leased from the Springfield Estate. Before the flood of 1856, the Springfield farmers were annoyed constantly by hippos damaging their crops. At that time there were many little lakes on the flats, each with reedy shores and shaded by water-loving palms. Here were homes for the hippos but several were shot by irated planters. The flood however, silted up these lakes and either buried the reeds under the sand or washed them out altogether, .leaving the whole flat without shelter or comfort for the hippos. These beasts went back across the Umgeni to Sea Cow Lake, where they occasionally raided the gardens over the river when crops once again grew there.

It was during these same floods that Mr Fell and his servants were rescued by boat from the huge tree in which they had taken refuge. The Fells, who were growing arrowroot, lived near the Buttery family. The boat was brought from Durban by wagon. Rowing against the current was really hard work and it was somewhat unnerving to see the water filled with buck, snakes, Native huts and pumpkins-all being washed out to sea

Voracious Crocs.

As many as seventeen crocodiles at one time were seen sunning themselves on the Umgeni banks It was not safe even to wash one’s hands in the river, as Mr Grix discovered at the cost of an arm . He leaned down to wash after having been hunting and a crocodile nipped one arm right off. The unfortunate man died after this bite.

Lions were frequent visitors during the winter. The shelter, the warmth and the abundant game in the Berea forests attracted them, and there were no houses between Sydenham and the heart of the town to frighten them by the smell of human beings. Once, when David Sparks was riding into the town through the lane that passed Barker’s Windmill and joined St Thomas’s Road on the Ridge, he met a lion and a lioness on the narrow path. Luckily the wind was blowing to him from them. His horse was terrified and stood still. The lions went away, but David decided that he would find another track to town that day.

His children met lions too one morning when going to school – a mile and a half away from home.  The beasts were in the lane that led to the Clare Estate church. It is remarkable in one way how fearless and independent children were in those days. In another way, they had the example of supreme courage set them by their parents, one of the most valuable lessons they could ever learn. Harry Sparks when only 11 years old, walked from Sydenham at night down the narrow forest track to fetch Dr Lyle when his mother had taken ill and his father was away on a transport venture to Mpondoland. The doctor protested that he could not find his way in the night but the small boy asked for a lantern and they set off through the forest with the light bobbing just ahead of the horses nose.

Leopards and Jackals

The Palmiet bush was “alive” with leopards, called colloquially “tigers”. Calves had to be taken in at night as even the highest fence did not keep Mr and Mrs “Spots” away from the animals. Stories of the narrow escapes and maulings were quite common when the leopards were wounded. The Clarence boys were noted for the number of leopards they caught and killed. Jackals wandered around all night, nibbling the leather odds and ends that might be left out. Once when the children were very small and her husband was away trading, Mrs Sparks had to go into the Inanda reserve because a wagon wheel had collapsed and the natives did not know how to fix it. They had been trading mealies for cattle – a profitable little bit of business carried on by two old Natives in the Sparks’s service. One of these came back with the tale of how Mrs Sparks went off with him taking a spare wagon wheel in the ox-cart which carried her. She had to sleep in the open that night, so big fires were kept burning right until dawn to discourage jackals and other wild animals. When she reached the place where the wagon had broken she showed the “boys” how to fix the wheel she had brought alongside the damaged one and returned a few days later with both their own wagon and the borrowed cart. She had quite enjoyed her experience in the wilds and had felt perfectly safe under the care of their old Natives.

Trading with the Natives in Mponodoland and transport riding often took David Sparks away from home. He had a concession to mine copper in the Insizwa mountains for which he had paid Cheif Jojo with a saddle and bridle. The mines were worked to some extent, but after the Cape took over the Pondoland Province, documents in connection with the concession got lost and the ownership has never been taken up since that time.

After the death of his first wife, Mr. Sparks married again. His second wife was Miss Welsh, a missionary.

It is interesting to know that there were five generations of Sparks from the original marriage of these two young people. There were eleven children by the first wife, six boys and five girls, of whom seven are still alive. The son of the second marriage is farming in Nyassaland and his mother lives at Scottburgh, on the South Coast. The surviving members of the family are Colonel Harry Sparks, Mrs Meyrick Bennett, Mrs John Ellis, Mrs Joseph Ellis, Mrs Heywood, Mr Abraham Sparks and Mr David Sparks junior. In the next generation are 68 grandchildren whose descendants are 88 great­grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren.

FOUR GENERATIONS Right to Left: Major David Sparks, his son, Mr Ernest Sparks, his great-grandson, Gifford Sparks. In the background is the Major’s grandson, Mr Neville Sparks

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82 Responses

  1. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Sparks Estate in my memory has always been an area of Durban I knew a bit about but then not that well enough if you get my drift. Reading the Sparks family history it would seem that the original Sparks Estate stretched from the back of the ridge towards the area today bounded by Jan Smuts Ave, 45th Cutting and Sherwood. It also included the present day Sydenham and the adjoining area heading down to the Umgeni known as Springfield.

    I looked through some of the books I have on old Durban to see whether Sparks Estate was ever mentioned in old maps but I drew a blank. The one map I did find was in George Russell’s History of Old Durban. I have scanned it and posted it here as it is interesting to see what the general plan of D’urban was as drawn up in 1855. The map shows the original Town Lands with the boundaries being the Umbilo River (also known as the Avon) in the south, the Umgeni River in the north, the Indian Ocean east and the Berea Ridge west. Note the names Cato Manor, Brickfield and Springfield are already identified. One can then assume that Sparks Estate was beyond the ridge. Interesting as well is the “Road to Pietermaritzburg” which is indicated but hardly in existence then.


    To get the map enlarged and fit on page I had to flip it.

    In the 1960s, Sparks Estate to me was the area roughly bounded by Randles Road, Locksley Drive, and Jan Smuts Avenue. This area if I recall correctly was classified as a Coloured area. Once you crossed North Ridge Road, you climbed up South Road for a short distance with the Standard Bank Overport Branch building on the left. This was later demolished in the late 60s and converted to small shops. Once over the ridge, the area became Indian. South Road wound down passing the Overport Primary School on the right, the old steel structure Microwave Tower erected 1961, on the left, (now replaced by a concrete tower), the Tower Service Station, the SAP Police Station tucked in at the corner, a very primitive Indian Butchery on the right which had goats heads hanging on hooks, then small shops on the left, until you got to Raboobees Corner and the notorious Brickfield Road intersection. South Road ended here and continued straight on as Sparks Road.

    Brickfield Road in those days was a narrow, two way, rough, busy road. Today it has been widened and upgraded. Left of the intersection, Brickfield had many Indian owned businesses on the left hand side starting with Raboobees Corner topped with flats. Most of these businesses had random off road parking and traffic jams were the order of the day. One I particularly remember from the late 80s was a builders’ supply outlet called Mafdil’s, later changed to MacDales. This builder’s supply must have had the cheapest cement in Durban as in the mornings traffic jams were the order of the day as every small builder collected his ration of cement for the day. Speaking to the then owner he told me he moved a container of cement every two days! On the other side of the road there was an Indian Hindu Temple and further down was the Tills Crescent (Balkumar) Swimming Pool. Over the crossing, one headed towards the Umgeni passing many blocks of flats interspersed with some old Indian houses. Carrying on with Sparks Road now heading towards Randles Road, one went uphill passing through a mixed Indian area again with many small businesses, Indian eateries (bunny chows and rotis) , the Indian Adelphi Cinema, blocks of flats, more old Indian houses with their distinctive facades a few of them derelict, the Star Butchery (later Meat Market) on the left and at the top of the hill, the then small Mosque on the left. Then one came to the Randles Road / Sparks Road intersection (another very busy intersection) and crossing over Randles Road one entered the predominantly Coloured area. On the left was a type of low income housing settlement and then as one went further on, the housing sort of improved but was still substandard by and large except the houses were on individual plots. As one approached the Locksley Drive area, the area changed to White again and veered to the left on to Sherwood via a large grassed playground with the Sherwood Hall the only building on it, coming eventually to the Caltex Garage on the corner and the 45th Cutting robots. The Caltex Garage had a very large neon sign and was a type of welcoming beacon to all the Transvalers arriving on holiday as it indicated Durban was just over the hill.

    One may ask how I got to know this area. In 1962 when I joined the Dept. of Posts and Telegraphs as a pupil technician, the Dept. thought it fit to acquaint all new staff with the various work sections, one of which was Subscriber Faults. I was posted for a short period to the Overport Exchange area and placed with a certain faultsman by the name of John Lange and his assistant, a coloured Mick Meth. His area was Overport in general but specifically the area back of the Ridge. His fault’s truck I remember was an old Chevrolet pick up and the cab had a single bench seat which was ample in proportions so all three of us were comfortably seated in the front. The area was quite bushy in those days and quite often Mick had to get the panga out to beat a path to the problem pole. John knew his area like the back of his hand and there were many little back roads and streets. I well recall Indian hospitality in that in the summer heat, we were often offered home made cool drink. One could hardly refuse refreshment but my blood sugar level in those days must have been sky high as the drinks were like coloured syrup. Mick Meth was a colourful figure short in stature but strong for his size. Dressed in a khaki uniform topped with a brown Aussie style felt hat, he handled the long, heavy wooden ladder with ease telling me the trick was to carry the ladder properly balanced. Mick I recall had that gene which gave him what I think is called Spider fingers. The front sections of his fingers were wider than the rest of his fingers and were bulbous with big finger nails. Mick lived in Sparks Estate in the low income housing section where the small houses lived cheek by jowl next to one another. Now Mick’s house had a special extra. Close to his bedroom the Dept. had erected a telephone booth. Inside was a wall type mounted telephone except that it was not fitted with a dial. All it was used for was to alert Mick when a call out was necessary and that he had to get ready to be picked up. In those days after hour call outs were promptly attended to albeit call outs were only available to doctors, hospitals, emergency and essential services. So when Mr Lange was alerted a call would be placed to Mick’s “call box” as well and the ringing would wake Mick up and thereafter he knew the drill. One of my “faults” memories involved the Star Butchery in Sparks Road. I see it still operates today in the same but enlarged premises. The butchery had reported that the telephone was not ringing. The three of us arrived on site and I was given the task of finding what the problem was. In those days the faultsman would contact the Test Clerk in the exchange who would test the line and if necessary applying ringing current so that the bell circuit in the telephone could be tested. I asked the test clerk to apply the ringing current and quite correct, the bells hardly rang which meant they had to be adjusted. Now the telephone, known as a black Bakelite “cheese dish” model, was situated right next to the butcher’s block To get to the bells one had to remove the base plate which I started doing so using the butcher’s block as a work bench. As I loosened the base’s last securing screw, a myriad of cockroaches suddenly exited covering the butcher’s block with Durban’s finest going in all directions. No trouble to the butcher who was close by, he simply picked up a cleaver and dispatched most of them with some hefty strikes. I was horrified and left him still attacking the last of them while I went to the truck to get a reconditioned telephone. I vowed never to buy meat there!

    A rather vague memory I have is attending to a fault on what appeared to be some kind of farm, on the corner of Locksley Drive and Jan Smuts Ave, right opposite the Caltex Service Station on the corner. The entrance had a long tree lined driveway leading to an old home. Thinking back it could have been a farm house. The area was eventually cleared and some of the corner expropriated when the busy 45th Cutting intersection was revamped and realigned. This would have been close to the mosque which has now expanded to fill the area. Anyone have any information on “the farm”?

    It must have been in the early 70s, that the upper section of the coloured housing on Sparks Road started undergoing major revamps. The small substandard houses were greatly modified and added to by their owners and what exists today is unrecognisable as to what it used to look like. Many of the then single storey asbestos corrugated roofed houses are now double storey mansions.

    The area known as Sydenham was not included in John Lange’s area so we did not go there. It did however have a reputation of being a rather rough and tough area. All I got to know of the area was the King George V TB Hospital in Stanley Copley Drive. Actually Stanley Copley Drive was a good alternate route to Brickfield Road from 45th Cutting if Sparks Road was congested.

    One Sunday round about 1968, returning from a hockey match played at Pinetown, I was on the way home via Sparks Road. At the intersection with Brickfield, the road was closed off and a huge crowd of Indians were lining the road on both sides. I went to see what was happening and was told that the Kavady festival starting from the Indian Temple in Brickfield Road would pass this way. I happened to have my camera with me so I decided to have a look and see what goes on. Nothing had started as yet so I took a walk down to the temple and was allowed to enter on condition I removed my shoes. No leather was allowed. What a fascinating experience that was which started off with the Indian priest smashing small pumpkins at the temple’s doorway. In the yard the devotees along with the general crowd were all chanting a mantra repeatedly and there was much clinking together of finger cymbals. After sometime which included the devotees being spun around on their heels, the piercing ceremony started taking place with the priest inserting long steel pins through the tongue and cheeks of those appointed. Needles were also placed in the forehead. I was allowed to take photographs unhindered. At the same time one individual was brought forward and S shaped hooks were inserted in his back. On the hooks lemons were hung as well as small brass jugs of milk. He was then prepared to be hitched up to a small “shrine” built on a wheeled base which he was to pull to the end destination which would have been the Umgeni River probably a kilometre or two away. What was amazing is that no blood was seen whatsoever. In addition being as close as I was to the devotees, I was convinced that they were not in a trance as they looked at me quite naturally and was actually blessed by them with ashes on the forehead. To me they were totally compus mentis. The procession then left the temple grounds and proceeded on its way led by the “shrine puller”, the priest and the rest of the chanting procession. The other devotees carried decorated logs on their shoulders. I spent several hours watching the whole ceremony and followed the “shrine puller” for some distance. On the inclines he was assisted as the skin on his back was severely stretched and milk was poured on the hooks. I did not follow them all the way to the Umgeni as time was moving on but what a really fascinating experience. The ceremony is still enacted yearly at various temples around Durban and if you get the chance take time to witness it.


    A devotee blessing the crowd. Cheeks pierced.

    The procession leaving the temple.

    A devotee with tongue pierced.

    The shrine being pulled along. A stop en route.

    The shrine puller close up.

    Living in the Sutton Park area in the late 60s, Sparks Road became my regular route home from Westville and Pinetown as it obviated going through town. The area around the Adelphi had quite a vibe late at night and the eatery on the corner of Sparks and Brickfield Road used to do a roaring trade in bunny chows. The Adelphi is still there but is now a bible ministry venue. The whole area has been redeveloped. The later development of Quarry Road with Makro and the shopping centres on both sides of it, made Brickfield Road a feeder road, and even busier. Sparks Estate, an interesting area but requiring some one who lived there or knew it intimately to be able to record its history.

    • Peter
      |

      The Adelphi Cinema was built on land adjacent to my grandparents home
      at 14 St Aidans Road. It must have been in the early 50’s that the owners
      ( a Moslem or Malay family ) came to ask my grandfather, a school principal,
      whether he would allow power to be taken off his property during the building process. My grandfather agreed and the result was that the families became good friends and all of us were able to watch any movie for free. St Aidans Road was a sand road starting at Sparks Road and leading to my grandparents
      home. Today, there are several blocks of residential flats built on the property,
      as when my grandfather passed on in 1965, his 2 sisters who were co-owners of the property insisted that it be sold to a businessman across the road, the business being called “Essack Ismail Stores ” or something similar and it was
      sold for the princely sum of 2 thousand pounds, all 10 or 12 acres, if I can remember. Today, as mentioned, the cinema has been converted to a Christian Centre and now, St Aidans Road runs on the left side of the building,not the right as originally. Other businesses in the immediate vicinity at the time were Ormonds Bicycle Shop and Koh-I-Noor barber shop.

  2. Graeme
    | Reply

    That farm you refer to was owned by a Mr Petersen. He also owned the shop at the corner of Lockesly and Jan Smuts, opposite the Caltex garage…the farm was way behind the shop……
    By the way, it was a pig farm. We used to mess around there as kids. We used to go and ride these vicious buggers before getting chased away. The huge valley there was mostly guava trees.
    By the way, Sparks road runs into Abrey road and then onto the Caltex garage to meet Jan Smuts Ave.

    • Gerald Buttigieg
      |

      Hi Graeme
      Thanks for confirming that about the farm. Its good to know one is not hallucinating. What years are you talking about when you say “messed around there as kids”? I do not recall the shop on the corner at all only that the entrance to the farm was on the corner and the actual house some distance back. The “road” leading to the house if I recall was a dirt path. Quite right about Abrey Road I had a look on my map. These may be minor “facts” about Durban but the more we bring to light, the better the picture of the past we build up.

    • Bryan
      |

      I dont recall that farm, I moved to sherwood in 1973 and am still there, I did a major revamp to the caltex garage in the 1970, s , a previous writer stated that after his grandfathers death the land was sold for two thousand pounds? Strange as in 1965 the currency was Rands, Sherwood like sparks estate has/is being absorbed with very few whites left, when I moved there in 73 it was called the garden suburb, no longer that, and cows used to come up candela road in the morning heading to the umgeni to graze, then return in the late afternoon, to an indian owned farm in the area which has become the smarty houses.

  3. Richard Holmes
    | Reply

    That was a great post Gerald – I lived twice near Sparks Estate .Once in Grace Avenue and then again much later in West Riding

    As I now live in the UK I am no longer able to visit haunts of my past so rely on this sort of thing to revive memories

  4. graem
    | Reply

    Hi Gerald. Just to confirm on Sparks estate again.
    We messed around at Peterson’s Pig Farm around late 1950’s, early 1960’s.
    Also, the actual entrance to the farm house was off Jan Smuts, about 200 to 500 mts behind the shop going down Jan Smuts towards the entrance into Westville. It was a gravel driveway lined with guava trees…….There was another service station diagnaly accross the road also.
    Peterson’s shop was definately on the corner where the Traffic lights are/were.
    I believe old man Peterson had a few fishing trawlers because in his farm sheds were old crates, huge fishing nets, buoys, and anchors. We found a box of flares the one day and set off a flare near the pig enclosures. I remember running down into the valley of guava trees being chased by the farm worker. He had zero chance because we knew that bush area in the valley like the back of our hands. I think there are units/town houses built there now.

    • Bryan
      |

      That garage is still there but now its an Engen station and was demolished and rebuilt , it is now indian owned , the previous owner a mechanic used to put a car or two for sale on his driveway, in the early 1970, s I bought a vw beetle for my then fiancee for R100, she used it for a year but did not like it, saying that she could not see the road directly in front of the car, soon after that I stopped for petrol there and the owner asked how the car was, I told him my fiancee, s tale, he said his daughter was going to varsity and needed transport and bought the car back for a R100, we are certainly …ripped off…with car prices now.

  5. Angela Naidoo
    | Reply

    I just happened to visit your site whilst looking for old photos of Durban.

    Very, very interesting read! Thanks guys for enlightening me of the area. Never knew the history until now. I was actually born in Mayville in 1949 just behind the “Castle” in Jan Smuths Avenue, near a little brook that ran across our property coming from up 45th cutting (don’t know where it starts). Our lane was called Brookleigh place. I know all the area you described in your comments as we lived near the Mayville Hotel and used Waterfalls Road to get to Overport and Sparks Estate.

    • sagren
      |

      Hi, my dad lived at 495 Jan Smuts Highway (opposite the hotel) and it is good to know a former resident is still alive. I am trying to get a 1949 Durban Race Riot Commemoration from government officals approved and would like to know if you would be offended or angered at the thought of it?

      Many people do not want the past pains brought back but I feel the truth on why the attacks on innocent Indians took place must be known. Indians are falsely blamed to cause the African rebellion instead of white government who benefitted from the violence.

    • Tag Pillay
      |

      No offense, Sagren. To hide the truth is a sin.

      And thank you, Mr. Gerald Buttigieg for the priceless narrative and would suggest that you start a “Sydenham Facebook” page or request me to do so.

      I was born at 43, Church Lane, off Randels Rd, a one acre property owned by my late father. This lane ran perpendically across from the Hindu School (and temple), also, Khan’s shop, where I studied under Ganga teacher.

      One of our neighbors was the late Billy Nair and Dr. Goonam. At dusk, to avoid being caught and at the age of six around 1956, I used to peddle (together with my elder brothers) the “New Age Journal”, printed clandestinely by Billy Nair.

      Most were jailed. We escaped. Dr. Goonam was sent to a labor camp.

      Despite the early age, I do remember the names mentioned by Mr. Gerald Buttigieg, and also because we had another property, a small farm, on Cannon Av. My father is buried at Kenilworth graveyard.

      I wonder if anyone can help me identify the massive foundation structure we found in our new home at the corner of Dunnotar and Clayton Road? I believe it used to be a cattle farm or dairy. We built our new home at this site which is now 105, Dunnottar Road (or Av.)

      And I wonder if Mr.Gerald Buttigieg remembers Mr. Grey and Family and the Agnew family? Anyone??- one of the last owners of the Terminus market-shop in Overport?

    • Craig Marc Esbend
      |

      Hi Tag Pilly and Mr. Gerald Buttigieg!

      You are more than welcome to Post onto https://www.facebook.com/sydenhamdbn

      I will be happy to give you guys full access. And goes to anyone else whom have any interesting Facts to share about the area.

      email us at info@sydenhamdbn.co.za

    • Vivian Moodley
      |

      Hi Angela,
      I have an unusual request! I am trying to trace my roots. I was born in 1950 and was given away as a child! Recently I have discovered that my biological mother was from the Mayville/Cato Manor area. She apparently went by the name of Mary Singh and worked for Mackenzie Clothing. I have been desperately trying for decades to find out more and I am willing to meet with anyone who are descendents of people who lived in the area.
      I am hopeful that you may know of such persons. Please help me if you can.
      My phone details are 0725677201/031 202 5383

      Thank you kindly

      Vivian

    • Gerald Buttigieg
      |

      Hi Vivian,
      I am a great believer that the more information you can gather the more scope there is for further leads. I have very limited reference books but strangely enough the two Durban Directories I have, one for the year 1938 and the other 1968, have been invaluable in finding out informative snippets. One must remember that from what I gather, Durban in 1938 was not in a change of flux. It was “settled” then and with the advent of war not much was to change for the next 6/7 years. The 1968 directory shows Durban changed post war and reflects major changes in that many old firms fell away and new ones came to the fore. In this light, I looked up Mackenzie Clothing in 1968 but there is no reference to the firm at all so one can assume it had closed by then. When, you would have to refer to earlier Durban Directories which one can access at the Durban Reference Library. However Mackenzie Clothing does appear in the 1938 Directory and it must have been a well known clothing manufacturer as it even commandeered a half page advert in the directory which was not common in that directory. Mackenzie Clothing was run/owned by Robert Knox MacKenzie and business was carried out at 45 Prince Edward Street. The advert shows some of the clothing made namely Servant House Suits, Boiler Suits, Dust Coats, Blinds and Awnings. If one recalls, Prince Edward Street was and still is part of the Indian business area if one reflects on the separation of businesses at the time. So although it does not help you greatly it does point to the area where your mother worked.

    • ronell
      |

      Hi Angela

      My mum was born in the same year as you, but in Everton Rd Sydenham. I think the family surname was Kendiah. Is there anyone that knows anything about the family. My grandfather fought in world war 2 and I have since lost my mum and she was an only child. I am trying to trace my grandparents home in Sydenham if anyone can assist me. Thanks

  6. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Angela
    So glad you found the site interesting. I used to do the maintenance on the PABX
    (Telephone System) that was installed at the NPA offices/depot which was at the foot of Jan Smuts Avenue. In those days Cato Manor had more or less been cleared of all the shacks that were there originally in the early 60s at the time of the riots. I think the area was called Mkumbaan (spelling?) by the locals. I still recall that along the road there was one Indian house left intact which was an orphanage run by the Aryan Benevolent Society. The SPCA also had premises there and then further on where the road forked there was an Indian garage / panel beater. This was at the junction of Francois Road behind the Varsity. If you carried on with that road you ended up in Bellair I think but you had to know your byroads then. I recall that “castle” house in Jan Smuts with large brown rough blocks. In later years did it not become the HQ of the Highway Patrol Police? The Mayville Hotel at the top of the hill so to speak had a grand view of the area below it. They had good lunch time bar lunches and the bar had I reckon on of the best collections of pin ups. It used to be rather isolated when the new free way came into existence. It must be remembered that Jan Smuts Avenue was the main artery out of Durban in the early 60s. The main road led off Berea Road near the Toll Gate and veered towards the road that is now between the Tennis Courts and the Durban Oncology Centre. On the corner was the Mayville Police Station, a supermarket and then a garage, past the West Ridge School and then you climbed up into a winding Jan Smuts. This led via Sherwood to 45th Cutting and there you were onto Old Main Road and on your way to Johannesburg via Westville and Pinetown. Sections remain but not many people remember that was the main route in and out of Durban.

    • Nadia
      |

      Hi Gerald

      My granny born in 1921 told me that she was a child of War born to the surname Moriaty she said that her father was high ranking in the British or Australian Army. I’m trying to trace her family history she had a sister but they grew up with their nanny who took care of them as their mum in Umkomaas. She moved to the city and worked at Lion Match Factory and fell in love with Mr Harry Singh they lived in the Kenilworth graveyard. People used to call my mum and her sisters the Graveyard Girls sadly due to the Land Act they were forced to move to Newlands East.

      Can somebody help me find my roots

  7. Angela Naidoo
    | Reply

    Hi Gerald, Thanks for giving me more feedback on this subject. You are so correct in your comments regarding the area, past and present. There was a ABH home for the old age and homeless children in Bellair Rd which has now been relocated to Unit 6 in Chatsworth where the Indians resettled during the Group Area Act in the 1960’s. There was also a school next to the home called AYS which I attended and across the road was another school called Ahmedia with a mosque, both of which still stands. The “Castle” in Jan Smuths Ave was very well known in our community and belonged to the Singh’s family who owned Singh’s Mutton Market in Warwick Ave which was then known as “The English Market” area next to the Morning Market. The yearly Comrades Marathon which began in 1921 still use this route from Durban to P M Burg. I remember when small we used to stand on the side of the road and clap hands when the runners passed. At the bottom end of the road between Bellair and Jan Smuths was a general store called C N Rana and there was a Standard Rd next to that. I know the whole area very well as children we ran everywhere, playing, visiting and even walking in that little stream and ending in 45th cutting.
    I’m actually interested to know if you have any posting or remember about a flood that took place in 1917 where the Umgeni river bust it’s bank. There were a tin town settlement on the other side of the river from Springfield Rd where the Indian market gardeners lived, now it’s a industrial site. There was a team of fishermen living in a fishing village in Fynnland at the Bluff, who saved 175 lives of these people who were being washed away with their houses towards the sea. The then mayor of Durban awarded them with medals and a piece of property at the Addington Beach to build a fishing shed and also gave them fishing rights with a 99 yr lease.
    The reason for this question is, Mariemuthoo Pavadatan the captain of the two boats, together with his brother, Gengan and team were the ones who did the deed. Mariemuthoo Pavadatan was my grandfather (mum’s dad). Although there are some articles written about them, I still feel someone out there might have some photos or articles about this history. You seem very well informed about the history of Durban and hopefully should assist.

    Thanks and keep well. Angela

  8. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Angela
    Thanks for that insight into an area now totally transformed as to what it was in your youth. My knowledge about the area is only cursory and my knowledge comes from travelling around going from one problematic PABX unit to the next. In those days there were only three of us who did this work and our area stretched from the Illovo Sugar Mill down the coast to Umhlanga Rocks and inland as far as Shongweni. One got to know all the short cuts. The 1917 Durban Floods are way before my time but there is reference to them in the book, Durban A Pictorial History by Ian Morrison. It is quite a sought after book these days and is out of print. If you want more information I suggest the Killie Campbell Museum in Mariott Road or else even Durban’s Reference Library. The library should have the book I mentioned above. So far as far as I know the feats that your grandfather and others performed are not recorded on this site but I do know there were some very good photos of the Indian Seine Netters Village at Fynnlands. Use the SEARCH facility to find them.

  9. Marisa Goldstone
    | Reply

    I was born in Aloe Grove – I have no idea where it is but was told its in the Sydenham area. I would love to know.

    • Dumpy
      |

      Hello Marisa

      I post this on the off-chance that you are still following replies to your post. Aloe Grove was known as the “gulley” and ran from Randles Road, almost opposite mayflower Road, across Kenilworth Avenue and Walmer Avenue towards Meadow Road. It was never used for vehicular traffic. We used it almost every day in the sixties on our way to the Tills Crescent swimming pool and football grounds. Click on or copy the following link https://www.google.co.za/maps/@-29.8381558,30.9840155,3a,42.7y,151.87h,88.31t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sgHKxQCeYih43FIh8_unUmA!2e0!7i13312!8i6656. The google text refers to it as Aleo but the map shows the road sign/lane sign correctly as Aloe. I know several Goldstone families, mainly those from Ifafa.

  10. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Marisa
    I have looked up both the 1938 and 1968 Durban Directories and Aloe Grove is not listed. It could be a latter naming as the area expanded. Try Googling.
    By the way there were a couple of Goldstones in the Dept. of Posts and Telegraphs in the 1960s. I am talking about the Overport Staff. One in particular apparently was an excellent soccer player.

    • Marisa Goldstone
      |

      I think it is near Walmer avenue or villa road = not sure. My dad Norman [Whitey] Goldstone worked for the GPO till about the 70’s then moved to Dunlops.

    • Kyra
      |

      Would your directories show Innes House on Field Street, I think it was a boarding house. Also were there any orphanages in Durban during 1940ish? Many thanks.

  11. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Success with those two and I have also found Aloe. Walmer Avenue and Villa Road are both listed as being in Mayville. They both run off Kenilworth Road which if I recall runs from Ridge Road down to Randles Road. Aloe Grove runs off Randles Road and parallel to Kenilworth and joins up with Villa. All this from an old Shell Road Atlas. Looking at the map they are more in Sparks Estate than Mayville.
    I looked up the Goldstones in the 1938 directory; only one A. Goldstone who lived in N033 Oxford House which was at 77 Gillespie Street. In the 1968 directory there are two from the area. Miss G Goldstone 155 Sparks Road and A Goldstone 19 Butcher Place. Butcher Place is shown as being close to Bechet High School, Sparks Estate.
    Its a long shot but you never know.

  12. Eleanor Poulter
    | Reply

    This is a very interesting page and thread. When my oldest son was in Matric in 2001, he did a history assignment on the history of Sherwood, including interviewing long-term residents. I have the assignment on our computer as a Word document.
    This is what he found out and wrote about Petersen’s pig farm, which I remember passing in the area of “Susa’s Bend” when we used to drive from Pinetown to Durban, during my childhood in the 1950s:

    Excerpt from The Sherwood Story, by Graham Poulter:
    Peterson’s Pig Farm
    Old senator Peterson was a feisty, eccentric, old Norwegian whaler who owned a huge tract of land and a disused fleet of about twenty old wooden whaling ships and a so-called pleasure boat named the Panther (according to everyone interviewed, it was a rusty old tub with ancient triple-expansion steam engines and which made everybody on it seasick). A memorable story is told about how he was always in trouble with the harbour authorities for failing to pay moorage fees. He never did, for the more than twenty years that his ships were there, and the harbour authorities took away his whaling ships one by one as reparations until all he had left was his beloved Panther. One day they came to him and asked him one last time to pay his dues or they were going to tow his ship to Japan to be scrapped. He said that sure, they could have it, but when they tried to tow it away, the bottom fell out and it sank to the bottom of the harbour, costing the harbour authorities much time and money to clean up the mess – which they couldn’t charge him for as the ship as no longer his. His estate stretched from what is now Locksley Drive to the border of Westville borough and from Jan Smuts Highway to Loon Road. The land lay vacant for a long time after his death, with many plans for such things as low-cost housing and a drive-in theatre being investigated. Today it is occupied with a series of duplexes like West Riding, the Moors and Cherry Lane. Old Mr Peterson didn’t associate with any of the local citizens, and didn’t take kindly to trespassers – making it huge sport for the local children to invade the place and have him bellow and chase them around through the guavas which covered the entire estate, even though he never caught anyone. The pigs there lived off the fruit from the guava tree, and both Mr Ramsay and Mrs Purdon say that they made a horrible stench and terrible squealing and honking noises which could be smelt and heard right across the neighbourhood. Once, someone complained to the police, who went to his door. When they confronted him, he told them that the pigs didn’t in fact belong to him but to his wife, who was not at home at the moment. So, the police returned the next day. This time his wife was home, but he was at their not very hygienic butchery which lies about where the Caltex garage is now, and was unavailable. They asked her about the pigs, and she said that they weren’t hers – she had sold them. When pressed for details about who she sold them to, she replied: “To my husband – yesterday.”

  13. Ayob Alli
    | Reply

    I have been living in Overport for the past 30 years.I find this sight very informative and its also very interesting.Sadly today the area has gone commercialiased.There’s a whole lot of food outlets( emmitting smoke),almost every flat has a businessess below and crime has deteriorated.Drugs and gangsterism has become the order of the day.There a very little or no landmarks left.Yes but this place has lots of good memories for most of us.

  14. Bryan
    | Reply

    I dont recall that farm, I moved to sherwood in 1973 and am still there, I did a major revamp to the caltex garage in the 1970s , a previous writer stated that after his grandfathers death the land was sold for two thousand pounds? Strange as in 1965 the currency was Rands, Sherwood like sparks estate has/is being absorbed with very few whites left, when I moved there in 73 it was called the garden suburb, no longer that, and cows used to come up candela road in the morning heading to the umgeni to graze, then return in the late afternoon, to an indian owned farm in the area which has become the smarty houses.

  15. graem
    | Reply

    Hi Bryan, I dont know who mentioned something about land been sold in pounds, didnt see that entry….
    I moved to Sherwood in 1955 and lived there right through to the mid seventies and all was intact as far as both Garages were concerned. Petersens farm by about the late seventies or much later was being sold up, cant remember really, because we didnt frequent there anymore because we were older by that stage and preferred spending time at the beach during breaks.
    All those complexes like West Riding, Strawberry fields, etc are built on old man Petersens farm land..
    My old man sold his house around the mid seventies or so and the area was still very good and safe……

  16. graem
    | Reply

    graem says:
    August 8, 2013 at 7:28 pm
    Hi Bryan, I dont know who mentioned something about land been sold in pounds, didnt see that entry….
    I moved to Sherwood in 1955 and lived there right through to the mid seventies and all was intact as far as both Garages were concerned. Petersens farm by about the late seventies or much later was being sold up, cant remember really, because we didnt frequent there anymore because we were older by that stage and preferred spending time at the beach during breaks.
    All those complexes like West Riding, Strawberry fields, etc are built on old man Petersens farm land..
    My old man sold his house around the mid seventies or so and the area was still very good and safe……

  17. Collin
    | Reply

    The article on the Sparks Settlers and reading replies on the history of the area is very interesting and intriguing.

    My dad was born in 1940 at his home in Loon Road. He has fond childhood memories of the area. He recalls having lived on Loon Road, alongside a cemetary. His family farmed rice and kept goats and chicken. He has recounted many tales of “raiding” Petersens farm for guavas and having been chased by Mr Petersen himself.

    My grandfather (dad’s father) used to be a go-between purchasers of pigs and Mr Petersen. The purchaser used to approach my grandfather who took them to Mr Petersen where the deal was concluded and the money was paid. Mr Petersen then ordered his farm help to go and capture a pig and sternly indicated the size of the pig by gesticulating with his hands the length and height of the pig to be captured … this varied according to the price paid. My grandfather then accompanied the farm help followed by the purchaser to the farm grounds where another deal took place (my grandfather was friends with the farm help). A much bigger pig was captured than that which Mr Petersen had indicated. Apparently Mr Petersen did not suffer any financial loss from this extra deal as the farm was overrun with pigs and that Mr Petersen himself did not know the number of pigs that he owned.

    There is another story often told by my dad and it involves chicken and snakes. My aunt, who was a teen-ager at that time, went to investigate why the chicken in the coop were cackling hysterically and causing quite a commotion. Upon closer inspection, she noticed a puff adder inside the coop feeding on eggs and chicks. There were no men folk around at the time so she kept vigil until the snake was done and returned to it’s home which was an old overturned bath tub kept in the yard.

    In the afternoon when the men returned from the rice paddy, my aunt recounted her experience that day. My grandfathers brother got hold of a huge stick and told my aunt to point out where the snake went to. My grandfathers brother then wielded the stick high above his head and instructed someone else to lift the bath tub … the idea was that when the bath tub was lifted, my granfathers brother will strike the snake and quickly dispatch it. My father hillariously recalls the mayhem and pandemonium which ensued when the bath tub was lifted… it turned out to be a mass of writhing, hissing snakes … three puff adders in total as thick as my grandfathers brothers fore-arm. My grandfathers brother was scared stiff and was immobilised with fear and seemed to be in a trance like state … he just stood there wielding the big stick above his head trasfixed by the writhing hissing mass before him whilst every-one else ran helter skelter taking cover. The commotion attracted the attention of other men in the vicinity who reponded swiftly and dispatched of the snakes. Being in that state was a benefit to my grandfather’s brother as the snakes which were very aggressive did not see his frozen form as a threat and reacted to everything else that moved. My dad goes on to tell that my grandfather’s brothers hands had to be prized open to remove the big stick and that he had to be taken to a spiritual healer as he had taken ill from the encounter with the snakes.

    Sadly, my dad and his family were relocated to Unit 7, Chatsworth, due to the Group Areas Act.

  18. Kajal
    | Reply

    Hi Angela
    The ‘castle’ that you are talking about on Jan Smuths Ave belonged to my family. I’m the grand daughter of Singh’s Mutton Market. My grandfather was the second son. Some people knew him as James or Mothi. My mum has always told me such wonderful stories of the place. It was really beautiful, wish I could have seen it in its prime.

    • vivian moodley
      |

      Hi Kajal. please drop me an email. I am in search of somebody that you might be able to help with. enactviv@webmail.co.za

    • Vinashree
      |

      Hi Kajal

      i grew up in Mayville & moved out due to the group areas act & my fascinination with the castle remained. I was at the castle today and am so disappointed that it has fallen into ruin. It is presently owned bt the dept of public works. It is so sad.
      Pleasee can you email me some pics of it in its glory and the history behind it. vmpragasan@gmail.com

      thanks

  19. vivian moodley
    | Reply

    Hi I am in search of the relatives and/or family of my biological mother and I am hoping that someone in your circle of friends and relatives might be able to assist! She apparently went as Mary and her surname could be Singh. She passed on approx. 15years ago. When she was very young she worked at Mackenzie Clothing. She would have been in her eighties today. I am told that she lived in the Cato Manor area.
    My contact numbers are 0725677201 or 031 2025283
    I will be eternally grateful
    Thank you

  20. Pravin
    | Reply

    Hi
    I’m trying to trace owners/decendants of baizley stores. used to be in randles road opposite the shifa hospital, in the seventies. any info would help.

    thanks
    pravin

    • Dumpy
      |

      Hi Pravin

      I lived in Clayton Road next door to the old age village which was only for white pesnioners then. Our local shop was either the one in Clayton Road at the top of the hill or the one to which you possibly refer. We bought our supplies on a credit book and had to pay up the book on Friday, possibly a crude precursor to the credit card but with no interest. Shifa was not around then. We knew the shop owner as Bhana Pancha (forgive any incorrect spelling). Bazley Ave about twenty metres to the right of the store and went all the up way to Rippon Road. To the left of the store was a swamp and then the bus owners Rampersad in Georgehill Road. We didn’t ever refer to it as “Baizley Stores”. This was in the late fifties/early to mid sixties.

      I know that this doesn’t answer your question but i hope contributes to the general discussion in this thread.

      Regards and good luck

      Dumpy

    • Tag Pillay
      |

      Hey Dumpy, how come I don’t know you.

      Because Bhana’s shop was my daily task for bread and milk up to December of 1966. I was then 16. His sons were Harry and Suresh. He had a daughter. The previous owner was Mr. Singh who moved to Reservoir Hills.

      Bazeley Av. was a few doors away. My old and last address was 105, Dunnottar Rd., next to Dr. Goonam.

      And I used to go to school on Mr. Rampersad’s run bus.

      Tks and keep in touch.

    • Dumpy
      |

      Hi Tag
      We lived at 201 Clayton Road opposite the Chetty family. The children were Korgi, Dyalan and Vasi and an older brother whose name escapes me. The father was a principal. I lived with my cousins(Jackie, Mike, Theo, Greg) the Stainbanks whose father was a musician who left in 1961 to ply his trade in Europe. The house was rented from the Singh family. The son’s name was Kenneth. The playground would have been behind your home and we played there every day, either on the swings or football. That mango tree next to the swings was still there when I passed there last year, still bearing fruit. Memories!!! Is that Dr Goonam the brilliant firebrand politician who was a mentor to Fatima Meer. We left in 1966 to live in Sparks Estate due to the Group Area Act. I don’t know why I remember a very sad character in the neighbourhood, an alcoholic lady know as Petrol. Maybe you didn’t know me because I would have been a about 4/5 years younger than you so I was a laaitie as we would say then. We also ended up using the shop in Tarndale Ave after a while and also used the Asherville pool depending on the person in charge on the day when they would allow bruin-ous to enter.
      Thanks for the memories.

    • Shanala
      |

      Hi The shop in Tarndale Ave was known as Ronnie Shop and belonged to the Naidoos who were also from Dunnottar Ave . The sons were Ronnie , Raj, Deena and Dhivie and they also had 3 daughters . Deena played for Manning Rangers .Dr Goonam was my late mother’s cousin . She loved dogs and if I remember she had a poodle which she pampered. The Maistry family also lived at the top end of Dunnottar Ave close to Randles Rd . What I remember is that over the Diwali festival when everyone wakes up much later after a long night of fireworks . The youngsters from Sparks Estate would swop our post boxes around . The postman had a nightmare locating the correct addresses to deliver post . I remember the old lady in Clayton road that consumed too much alcohol – she passed on but there was a very tiny
      old man that we called Gundie Thatha meaning small grandfather due to his stature that also lived in Clayton Road . One of the Rampersad boys schooled with me – Mahendra . At the corner of Spatks and Randles road was the Sydenham Pharmacy -think it is still there but changed from the old world service that we received . Someone spoke about a well known soccer right from the Goldstone family – that is Gary Goldstone from Leeds United . He lived in Wentworth and I think that his son also had a stint with Kaiser Chiefs or one of the big name clubs . The Sydenhsm area produced really good sportsmen and women with many belonging to Sacos. Does anyone know if the Bowers and Kast family from Sydenham . The daughter Estelle Kast was a beauty queen and the Bowers were swimmers .

    • Tag Pillay
      |

      Dear Dumpy,

      Thanks for an emotional feeback, and I think I remember you the four names you mentioned, Jackie, Mike, Theo, Greg and your house was the original landmark of the Sydenham area before the group areas manipulated changes. I always thought you were their youngest brother.

      And together with your cousin’s house there was a car bodybuilder who once repaired a dent on Mr. Rajval’s Kombi, and further below, the furniture factory.

      So how about Jackie, Mike Theo and Greg? We used to play soccer and cricket in that playground, almost every weekend. You may remember some of the names, Jap Ishwarlal, Allen & Brian Reddy, Jayram (whose father Mr. N.B. Naidoo was the principal at Centenary High, we nicknamed him, Gary Cooper). Next to Jayram on Dunnottar Rd, Segren and next to Segran my cousins, the Naidoos that Shanala mentions; Ronnie (oldest), Rosy, Raj, Sivi, Dheena and the two younger girls. They were the owners of Sinon’s cafe before owning the tea room at the Tarndale mall. Mickey who was in my class at Gandhi Desai High lived with his brother, Morgan, and family almost across Centenary High.

      And Google map still shows the mangoe tree, the swings. The bush pass alongside your house became a shanty town, from what I see on google map.

      Yes I do remember the Chetties, Koogie was the big guy. And Mr. Chettie was a principal, right. Behind the Chetties, another friend and his name was Gonce, at Briza place.

      Thanks again for the update and please keep in touch.

    • Kamala
      |

      Hi Dumpy and Tag, I accidently stumbled across this site. We lived in Asherville on Mallinson Road. Left SA over 40 years ago however, you and Tag seem to have grown up in the same area we did.
      Would really appreciate hearing more. Helps jog this old mind of fading memories.

  21. Avesh Ramsarup
    | Reply

    My grandfather worked as a bus driver for the Rampersads. He was shot while working/driving in booth road. I know that my dad lived in a ‘barracks’ with his family at the time in this area. My gran had to raise her 4 kids by herself. It was a nice Web page to read and get more information on this history.

  22. Craig Marc Esbend
    | Reply

    I was recently involved in design and layout in a Book called Clairwood – the untold story by Dr Juggie Pather and got to hear a few stories of Sydenham. I have started doing research into putting together the History of the Sydenham area and its people, its past, present and future.

    I will be creating a Facebook Page to help contined more information, but with also like to ask you and others to please email me any and all useful material for the book.

    email me on cmarc1975@gmail.com

  23. Portia
    | Reply

    Wow congratulations in the hard work putting this information together. I would love to get a copy of your book.

    Can you please confirm what had happened to Mr Sparks grave site. I heard that it was on Randles Road just before the Butcher Road lane. I remember seeing that grave site as a young child growing up in a Sydenham. But I haven’t seen it for many years now.

  24. dianne bazley
    | Reply

    My father in-law Lionel Frank Bazley schooled in Rippon Road primary can you give me more info we burried him in st johns cemettry in 1985 with his ancestOors

  25. Jenny
    | Reply

    Hi, Wow, such interesting reading, My question to you is, was there ever a childrens home or school on Hartley road that burned down? We lived on Hartley road, our driveway was across the road from the exit of the hospital, and my daughter always had a child visit her., (she is very sensitive to the spirits) this childs name is Irus Hill who said his house burned down?
    I am aware that this sounds strange, but this child visited her often and I feel it only fair to do some research
    thank you for a very informative site.
    Warm regards

  26. Craig Marc Esbend
    | Reply

    Good day all!

    I’m looking for the history or anything about the YWCA Hall located on the corner of Randles and Mayflower Road. We want to add the History of the Hall on our Website.

    • Dumpy
      |

      Hi Craig. This YMCA hall was built in the seventies. I remember it was a light blue building, low level with a prefab look. I left Durban in 1978 and my recollection is that it was around then having been fairly recently built. I definitely know that the Assemblies of God used it for church services so they would be a good starting point for information. Pastors LaFoy and Sean Johns were the pastors in charge. I’m sure that they are contactable through their church offices. It is a shame that community leader Mr Sam “Blessie” Draai passed on earlier this year. He was an absolute fount of knowledge regarding all things Sparks Estate and especially that he lived about six house up from the YMCA in Mayflower Road.

    • Llewellyn Biggar
      |

      Hi Gerald
      I was brought up in Sparks Estate (Cornelius road). My Grandparents (Biggar)were some of the first Coloureds to settle in Sparks Road (372). Names (Dumpy, I schooled with) and places quoted herein, brought back many memories. Peters farm,including the guava raids, was a great source of the supply of dairy produce sold of the back of the truck thank you for the historical journey and I am certainly interested in any media that is created via this medium or as a result of the associated research.

  27. Mr S.Singh
    | Reply

    I am looking for information,pics on 40 Sydenham Road (I think is near Berea/Greyville area) My Grand parents and Dad live the around 1960? Grandfathers name :Pop Singh,Grannys Name: Rookmoonie Singh, her Brothers were the Benny Singh boxing family, My Dad name was Benodh Singh. Please help if you can.

    • Kamala
      |

      Mr S Singh, Did your dad have a sister by the name of Uma ? Did you have relatives in Overport near Hope Street ? My grandparents knew the Benny Singh family well.

  28. Ela Gandhi
    | Reply

    Very interesting stories. Such positive experiences which made life interesting and beautiful. It is refreshing and enlightening to learn the stories of people’s experiences and the humour and fun that went with these experiences. Thank you for writing these stories and sharing them.

    • Kamala
      |

      Ela, What a delight reading your post. Regarding childhood experiences, visiting you and Bah and the entire Phoenix experience impacted me deeply and left me with indelible memories of love, laughter and sharing, during difficult political times. I still have the Passive Res. cooking pots (deksas) and the hammer used to make the sandals for Smuts. Hopefully I can bring them back to Phoenix someday, if someone there would like them.
      What a wonderful site. May all of you reading this continue to share your experiences as they are our legacy.

  29. Storm Ferguson
    | Reply

    Hi
    I have recently come across some family information where my great grandmothers family lived in Mayville pre 1940, the address give is The Grange, Mayville and I would be curious to go and look at what if anything may be left of it. Their surname was Moulton.
    I have greatly enjoyed reading all the comments on this page, thank you.
    Kind regards
    Storm Ferguson

  30. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Storm,
    I looked up Moulton, an unusual surname, in the 1938 Durban Directory under Durban and Mayville but unfortunately not listed. However under the Umgeni listings there is a R. J. Moulton under what I can only think may have been his business address. It is given as Buttery Quarry and Sand Depot, North Coast Road. Remember Mayville, Durban North, Umgeni and other areas were not part of Durban per se but regarded as Durban Districts. There was a Grange Road in Mayville and this sometimes t00k its name from what was there originally.

  31. Storm Ferguson
    | Reply

    Hi Gerald
    Thank you very much for your interest and trouble, very kind of you! I went to Grange Road in Mayville this morning and found Sica’s Guest House which according to the receptionist was originally Catos Dairy. Certainly a Victorian homestead originally. Moulton is indeed a very unusual name and according to the wills which I have come across they definitely existed and lived there. Grange Road is a very small almost servitude which runs close up against Sica’s Guest House and I would imagine that ‘The Grange’ and Grange road in what must have been a small community must have some connection. I thought of going down to City Engineers and looking at a few plans of houses in that immediate vicinity in the hope of uncovering something. I never knew my great grand mother who was born Moulton but would be curious to find out about them. She was born in England in 1885 and married my great grandfather in 1916 at St James Church Morningside. He and his family were parishioners there, strangely and Anglican Church as they were of Scottish descent.
    Thank you again for your interest and research.
    Kind regards
    Storm

  32. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Storm,
    Glad to be of help. There was a Cato Manor Dairy in the area in 1938 listed as being off Main Road which I think later became the Old Main Road leading out of Durban before the advent of the freeways. Main Road on the map is close to Grange Road. What was your great grandmother’s married name if Moulton was her maiden name? What I can suggest is if you have the time and inclination is to visit the Durban Reference Library and ask to see the old Durban Directories. The Don Collection at the library has most of these old directories but you cannot loan them out. As I said you would need time to do a bit of digging. Another source would be the Killie Campbell Museum in Marriott Road where possibly they could have something on the name Moulton or your great grandfather. I have a book on the Origin of Durban Street names but Grange Road is not mentioned in it.

    • Storm Ferguson
      |

      Hi Gerald
      Will try those options, thank you. My great grand mother married William Storm of Coronation Brick and Tile (later Corobrik) fame. I know a fair bit of the Storm family history as my late grandmother was very partial to her father (and mother). My interest in the Moulton’s came out of a discovery of wills etc relating to great grandmothers aunt and uncles based in Mayville. I had previously thought that my great grandfather met my great grandmother in England but also found that they married in Durban which I thought strange if she had no connections here.
      I had never really given any thought to Mayville either but some months ago I took a drive through to Albert Luthuli Hospital and thought how surprising it was, to me anyway, that there were many early 1900’s houses and buildings, mostly very decayed but nevertheless showing what must have been a busy and fairly developed place some time ago. I then discovered the Moulton connection and the interest grew!
      Thank you again for your interst and help.
      Storm

  33. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    We have a little of the Coronation Brick and Tile Co. history on FAD. Do a search for “Coronation Brick”. Good luck with your search.

  34. Anne Brooker née Damans
    | Reply

    I know the Goldstones of Butcher Place and Estelle Kast. They both live in Australia

  35. Vishal
    | Reply

    Mr S Singh , i am not sure if this information will help , but try , we had a Mr MR Singh , as principal at Northmead Secondary school in Phoenix during the 1980ties , he always spoke proudly about Sastri college and other neighboring educational institutes and the Sydenham areas , but mainly he also should constantly remind us that he hailed from a boxing family and he himself was an avid boxer. Probably the school could assist with some information. Good luck.

  36. Gene
    | Reply

    Pravin,
    It’s two years since your query about Bazley Stores. If you haven’t found out yet, it belonged to Vathi. He moved it to the building next to the present Sydenham Bottle Store. He sold it and bought a takeaway in Isipingo or Prospecton about 1988. He also built a house in Isipingo Hills. Sadly, robbers killed him in his shop in about 1990. He had a couple of girls and one son, Neil. His surname was Govindsamy or Vatharaj, I’m not sure. He kept bank accounts at FNB, Overport.

  37. ronell
    | Reply

    Hi Gerald

    I am urgently seeking information of the Kendiah Family from Everton Rd Sydenham. I am the grandchild and my mum was orphaned before I was born. If anyone knows anything I will greatly appreciate it. My grandfather fought in world war 2 and later died from Tb. That is all the information I have

    • Allan Jackson
      |

      Hi Ronell, Gerald is overseas on holiday at the moment but I’m sure that one of our readers might know something. You could also try posting your question on our Facbook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/FactsAboutDurban/. Cheers, Allan

  38. Ronell
    | Reply

    Hi Allan

    Thank you for the feedback. If anyone can assist me with information regarding Raju and Santhosumma Kendiah, who lived in Everton Rd, Sydenham, I will be eternally grateful. My mum was born there in 1949 (Elizabeth faith Kendiah).

  39. Yusuf
    | Reply

    Nice to hear these valuable memories, im not in that age group or from that era but we lived around the corner from Clayton Road when i was little, ( Brickfield Road) My Dad’s name Ghoolam Boxer well thats what he was known as. Its good to hear people proud of where they come from and share good memories together, Cheers Yusuf

  40. Carolyn
    | Reply

    My maternal great grandfather was the farmer, Keal, who is mentioned in The Sparks Settlers booklet. When we were children, my grandmother (born 1894) used to tell stories about their life on the farm and about old Durban. Keal Road is off Sparks Road and other roads in the area are named after other farmers whose daughters she and her sister played with – Maud Mallinson, Amy Daintree and Elsie Clayton. Granny’s twin baby sisters died young and are buried in the local cemetery – has anyone been there recently as I would like to visit the graves? I don’t know when the family left the farm. My great grandfather became a builder and he built two identical houses at the top of Berea Road just before Tollgate – one was demolished and Charlie’s Auto Services is in its place. After my Great Grandfather died, my Great Grandmother ran one of the houses as a boarding house.

    Interestingly, after World War 2, Granny’s husband took control of the service station station which was called Texaco in its early years. Grandpa had a Texaco sign on the side of his big Chrysler and some people took him for a taxi! My Father sold his old MG to buy my Mother’s engagement ring so had to walk from Bellair where he lived to the Texaco Service Station in Sherwood to visit my Mother before they married. (He bought one of the new Morris Minor cars shortly before they married.)

    I can remember Granny talking about ‘old man Mr Petersen’, but as the service station had replaced his farm, I think he must have been living locally in Sherwood when she knew him although they must have been about the same age so maybe she knew him from when he was a boy on his Father’s farm.

  41. Kamala
    | Reply

    Hi Yusuf, as a kid growing up in Sydenham and Asherville, I remember your father. Do you remember Gulam Mullah from 14 Ward Road in Sydenham?

  42. Joseph Chetty
    | Reply

    My grandfather built his house, after serving his indentureship at Mt Edgecombe, at 12 Delhi Avenue, Mayville. This was off Standard Road, behind CN Rana Store on Jan Smuts Highway. My dad was born there, so was I and we lived there for quite a while until relocated to Chatsworth after the property was expropriated by the Dept of Community Development. My dad also served as the local Hindu Priest of the area and had a small temple on the property where festivals were celebrated and prayers were held. People knew him as Kana.
    I am trying to contact those who were associated with Delhi Avenue as it was considered a very influential street back in those days. As a child I recall the mansions that existed there. I have traced my family ancestry back to India already. I am also looking for pictures of the area, in particular this street Delhi Avenue.
    I have now emigrated to the USA with my family but am busy compiling a manuscript to leave for my children. We are proud of our heritage.
    Can anyone assist?

  43. Gerald
    | Reply

    Hi Joseph,
    Welcome to FAD. It is going to need people who lived in the area to respond. I have noticed that several Indians have been writing books of their past and the particular areas they lived in in Durban. I also note that a monument to remember the 1860 indentured Indians who were brought over to Natal to work in the cane fields seems to be getting nowhere. 2010 was the 150th anniversary and a monument was mooted but so far the powers involved do not seem to be able to decide what form the monument should take.

  44. Sorelle
    | Reply

    where do we get pictures of the roads from back in the day

  45. Gerald
    | Reply

    Hi Sorelle
    Pictures of roads in more modern times are hard to find. Old Durban roads were covered by postcards mainly. What area and time frame are you looking for. Try your luck by Googling.

  46. Ruhkaya
    | Reply

    Good morning Gerald

    My Nephew has a school Project On sparks estate where can i get information on it and pictures or is this all we have on this site

  47. Gerald
    | Reply

    Hi Ruhkaya,
    This website relies on information provided by the people of Durban who are prepared to post their recollections and knowledge for the benefit of others. Whereas there is a fair amount of information on Durban per se, a lot has not been commented on and it looks like that this is all there is on Sparks Estate. You can do a SEARCH on the website (see the face page ) putting in a particular name or locality which may come up. Sometimes particular topics are incorrectly added to other topics so one does have to look sometimes. Apart from that the Reference Library in Durban or the Killie Campbell Collection may be other areas to look at.

  48. Fatimah Docrat
    | Reply

    Hi! This post and the comments has been excellent! It is fascinating to discover the origins of the place of my childhood! Alas I was only born in 1984 & cannot contribute. I have to say that is amazing how the Sparks estate and surrounds has constantly and successfully evolved to the times and with a multitude of cultures. The history of the area only really interested me in my teens, when we moved from Brickfield Road to Julia Road, behind Conlog, when I discovered that it was named after the daughter of a Mr Gardiner who had donated some of the parks there. I have o share this post with my Dad(Muhammed Docrat) – he grew up in Zinnia Road in Asherville and worked at Merit Clothing in Brickfield Road in the 70’s. Please keep this site wonderful site going!

  49. Kamala Perlson
    | Reply

    Hi Fatima, We knew your dad. We grew up in Mallinson Rd. Asheville. ( near Briza Place & Dunnottar Ave ). Left SA in the early 1970’s.
    Kamala

  50. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Fatimah
    Thanks for the compliments. Yes you lived in an interesting area which at one time was regarded as outside Durban. Probably one of the landmarks that many remember is Raboobee’s Corner which I think the building announcing this, is still there. If you have not read it here is an interesting note re Julia Gardiner. Click on the link: https://www.fad.co.za/2017/10/01/captain-allen-francis-gardiner-r-n-a-few-notes/

  51. Mario Masiemento Sparks
    | Reply

    Hi Gerald Buttigieg. My name is Mario Sparks. My father is Richard Sparks and my grandfather was John James Sparks, also known as Jack Sparks. Do you know any of the Sparks who settled in the Cape. I am desperately trying to establish my family tree. Unfortunately I do not have a birth certificate for my grandfather and unfortunately other family members are unwilling to provide more information. Do you know how I would be able to trace as I am not sure whether my grandfather was born here or in England and migrated to SA. I do believe he was born here as he had a South African ID as he was able to get benifits or pension. He did tell me that he was in the war as I questioned him on a photo where he was standing with a rifle and uniform. And he was able to speak Afrikaans.

  52. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    HI Mario,
    Unfortunately the article I wrote was based on a book loaned to me by Mrs Maureen Stoute whom I got to know here in Richmond KZN. She was related to the Sparks family. She has since passed on and no doubt her family retrieved all her belongings including the family book she had. I have no contact with her family so what you read is what I have got. I understand she had children and that would be your best bet in trying to establish contact with them and see if they can help you. Perhaps a reader here could help you and you never know how one thing leads to another.

  53. Mario Masiemento Sparks
    | Reply

    Hi Gerald
    Thanks for your feedback. I am actually starting to make headway and are able to slowly retrieve some info. Your website is fantastic and I never knew the Sparks family was so big and well known in Durban. I always thought they were only around the Cape.

  54. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    HI Mario
    If you can trace the writer of the book who I think may still be alive, David Gifford Sparks I am sure he would be able to help. From what I gather the Sparks Estate was a large tract of land, and if you know Durban , was behind the ridge or Berea as it was called. Basically when the Sparks families settled there Sparks Estate was outside the confines of what was known as Durban then. The western boundary was Ridge Road which cut across the ridge. I have no history of when certain areas of Sparks Estate were allocated to Coloured people and others to Indian. I seem to recall that Sparks Road was the divide. In the early 60s I recall a lot of Coloureds were allocated housing which was very basic indeed. In the years that followed the small houses were added to and extended, knocked down and rebuilt and the present situation is that the Coloured area is now completely transformed as to what it used to be.

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