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My informant Derek Austin sent the following picture of the Alexandra Hotel and Smuggler’s Inn. It is not credited but I would be most happy to correct that if anyone knows whose the picture is.

Click to enlarge.

Allan Hannah sent in a school team photo in response to a discussion on a recent diary entry What happened in Durban 50/40 years ago?. The picture includes the famous rugby coach Izak van Heerden and Allan himself. I have added the picture to Allan’s comment on March 22 below the entry.

Some time ago I added a 1950s article on the aviation history of Durban to the site. It goes into quite some detail about the the visit of Albert Kimmerling who performed the first powered flight in South Africa (in East London) and, later, the first in Durban. My informant Coenie Breytenbach recently sent in a picture of Kimmerling’s aircraft in Port Elizabeth. He apparently dicovered it in a box of glass negatives that he bought from the estate of an old photographer. I have added the picture to the article here.

The final item this time is an entry sent in by Bob Gooderson from the Flatland News of February 2001 showing the beach end of West Street before and after the building after the Lonsdale Hotel. The notation on top was made by Robert Gooderson who founded the family’s hotel group and who died in 2005 at the age of 93.

Courtesy Bob Gooderson.
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21 Responses

  1. Bryan
    | Reply

    The Alexander hotel carried the smugglers inn name for years but the original smugglers inn was across the road, harbour side, it had its own customs officer as u could go from a ship into the pub, my uncle had a barber shop close to the Alexander in the fifties, and he did a roaring trade with the sailors from the Union Castle ships.He was French I wonder if anyone remembers him.

    • tony nunes

      Original Smugglers Inn

      Has anyone got photos or articles on the original Smugglers Inn?

  2. Hugh Scott Smith
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    My great grandfather was first a clerk then the manager at the Criterion Hotel in Point Road where Smugglers Inn was originally located. This was in the 1880s.

    Does anyone have photos or articles regarding the Criterion or Smugglers Inn from this period or later?

  3. Beth Pettit (nee Holt)
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    My father managed the Criterion Hotel in the early 1960’s, I was really young, so do not remember too much.
    I do remember old Mr Wilson, who owned the hotel and very proudly told the story of how his grandfather built the original hotel from the wood of a ship wreck called the Criterion. When Mr Wilson died, he left the hotel to his nephew who promptly sold the land off to the railways. This was the only privately-owned property with it’s own customs gate.
    I fondly remember Mr Wilson as being very kind and taking me and my mother for drives down the south coast in his big blue car (I think it was a Chev). My father moved across to manage the Alexandra Hotel (there was no Smuggler’s Inn then) for a while. I remember my brothers going down the road to the barbers shop mentioned in an earlier post.
    I remember when the ships came in, I used to be sent upstairs to our rooms to be “out of the way of the sailors”.
    The head waiter was a very short Indian man by the name of Matthew, he apparently was a chef before becoming head waiter.

  4. Gerald Buttigieg
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    Hi Beth …. and Bryan (above),
    I looked up the Criterion Hotel in both the 1938 and 1968 Durban directories I have and it appears in both of them. The address is 85 Point Road. It appears on the left hand side of Point Road and was at the very end of it near the Ferry Kiosk and “A” and “B” Shed. The Alexandra was further up at 124 Point Road. At No. 128/130 Point Road was the Alexandra Hairdressing Saloon with a Mr. J Rothstein as proprietor. This from the 1938 Directory. In 1968, 128 Point Road appears to have been a tearoom called Criterion Snack and Tap (?). To be honest I cannot remember the Criterion at all. Do you have any photos of it?

  5. jack moorhead
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    I used stop- off at smugglers when i sailed for the Norwegian line Thordahl i was on the
    Thorshope and Thorswave .1970s left the Thorswave to Join The Rhodesian Army
    Rember the bar had coins placed on from the cigarette burns Durban what a time we had

    cheers jack moorhead



  6. Richard Anderson
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    A few of us on the Pendennis Castle frequented the place in the 70’s. Had a reputation for brawling but we never saw any trouble. What is it nowadays?

  7. Jerald Rabie
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    I remember the original Smugglers Inn
    I can still picture the customs officer standing at the back entrance. It was a problem job because the officer often got drunk.

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  9. Keith Titmuss
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    Hi Danny, do you remember Essop Ghani and the Rebels. They were a really talented band in 60’s.


      Yes I remember Essop Ganie,he was a Talented Singer—he came from Overport in Durban

      he sang in many Nite Clibs

    • Keith Titmuss

      Hello Danny, I’m so pleased to hear from someone who remembers Essop. He had a wonderful voice and together with his band “The Rebels” had a large following. The singer in our band-Vic Craig- was good friends with Essop. As a result of their friendship we played several gigs with them….at the Smugglers Inn, Stanger, and Tongaat. I remember the lead guitarist who I admired as a great musican was called “Gillie”. (Sorry if the spelling is wrong) In the early ’60’s besides Dickie Loader and the Blue Jeans we ere one of only a few “white” bands who were welcome to play alongside bands such as Essop’s.
      Kind regards,

    • Danny Moodley

      Yes Essop Ganie as a very good singer,He also sang with Jerry Junior,
      They played in niteclubs in around the Pelican,The Himalayas, The Moon Hotel,The Isipingo
      Island Hotel etc,
      Yes Iknew Dicky Loader he used to work for Gallo Recording,He was slightly Limp,had a problem with his leg,But a very good singer,Do you remember Eddie Watts.
      Also Mac Stevens was a great with his Guiter

  10. Frank Beeton
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    Keith, did you ever attend the “Indian Rock Band Contests” at the Icedrome? I remember that the Rebels and the Flames were always contenders for the top prize. Kathrees’ Radio used to provide the sound equipment and it was better than that used by some of the overseas touring groups!

  11. Keith Titmuss
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    Hi Frank,, yes I did attend two of the band contests at the Icedrome. All the bands were good with some brilliant musicians. Of course the Flames were outstanding. I agree with what you said about Kathrees sound equipment.

  12. Jenny
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    Actually, this picture posted, is very place where the Smuggies was in the late 60’s and early 70’s. I don’t know what became of it after 1973, when I stopped going. We used to go there every single Friday and Saturday night and sometimes even in the week. They had great bands and cabaret acts. Entrance was free for girls. The entrance was not on Point Road though, but up the road next to it, and turn left at the corner. So Bryan is talking about a much earlier time, like he said – the 50’s.

  13. Donald
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    I used to go to Smugglers when I was 17,living in a bachelor flat on the esplanade.I used to walk there most nights (or Fathers Moustache),afterwards I would catch a lift back in an off duty taxi as their base was under my flats.One of the best bands I have ever seen played there then,they were called ‘Triad’ but I cannot find any info on them.Does any one else remember them.

  14. Mike
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    Donald, The only reference I can find to Triad…….maybe after your time though!:

    Born and raised in the Kwazulu Natal Midlands in South Africa, singer songwriter Jason Hartman’s love for music was evident from a very young age. In his teens, Jason and his brother Scott joined their father and formed a 3pieced band out of pure necessity to survive. They spent a decade together performing at various venues and corporate functions earning their keep through their mindblowing performances. Jason then broke away and moved to Johannesburg where he began busking for a living. Soon after this, he put together a 2 pieced duo called Justus, which won the Duo Competition at Tanz Café in Bryanston. This was the beginning of a successful career in the South African music industry.

    Jason Hartman – Idols winner – 2009 – hails from KwaZulu Natal but moved to Jozi where he presently resides. He is one of the founding directors of Men of the Trees, an International Society of the Planting and protection of Trees and also creates sustainable food gardens.

    Jason Hartman has played and entertained for over the past ten years both nationally and internationally. He started his career back in 1996 playing in a young three-piece rock band called Triad. The band played in and around KwaZulu Natal focusing mostly on rock classics.

  15. Anton Kelly
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    I was a student at the Technicon 1976 – 80. Our sculpture lecturer used to take us, a small group of students, out every now and then. We used to go to Smugglers for happy hour, then across the harbour to the Ferry Inn, then back with the last ferry, and then up the dives in Point Road. Completely smashed by then. Great fun.

    A friend of mine played in a band at Smugglers a few times. I went there on a Saturday morning to help move some gear. It was septic inside, I mean, really bad.

    Any idea how long the ferry and the Ferry Inn lasted?

    | Reply

    The Smugglers was frequented by the Sailors, The band that played their was the Footsteps, and they played all the time.It was in Point Road, not far from the Harbour,Later a Nite Club called the Trawlers was operating in the Harbour.
    it was the good old days.IT WAS A HAVEN FOR THE SAILORS,

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