courtesy Transnet Heritage Foundation.
Street - date unknown.
Click the picture to download a wallpaper-sized enlargement.
picture of West Street was sent to me by Transnet Heritage
Foundation Librarian Eurika Deminey. It clearly shows horse-drawn
trams and rickshas in use. The picture is marked J.E.M. Photo
and is undated but was probably taken between 1893, when rickshas
were introduced, and the arrival of electric trams in 1902.
An interesting feature of the picture is the clock tower of
what was then the Town Hall [now the Central Post Office]
and the bushy area across the road from it. The area was the
market square and is where the City Hall now stands.
are now quite a number of contributions from readers on this
site and I've now put up a special contents
page here for them.
to discover more Facts About Durban has led to more than a
few surprises along the way. One of them was when I found
out that there is an Italian Military Cemetery in Durban at
Hillary. In the cemetery are the graves of Italian Prisoners
of War, who died while in captivity in South Africa during
WWII, and the 120 Italian victims of the Nova Scotia disaster
who washed ashore on Durban's beaches. I'm indebted to Claudia
Arriati of the Italian Consulate in Durban for details on
Scotia victims were buried in 1942 at the site in three common
graves which were marked by three crosses. A round tomb was
erected in 1982 following a donation from survivors of the
sinking who were still living in Mocambique. The tomb is surmounted
by a broken marble column, or stele, rising out of the waves
and carrying an inscription in Italian and English. It reads:
"To the memory of the Sons of Italy who were overcome
by the ocean in the sinking of the S/S 'Nova Scotia' XXVIII-XI-MCMXLII.
The survivors sheltered in Mocambique".
The Altar in the Italian Military Cemetery at Hillary
The tomb of the victims of the sinking of the Nova Scotia.
Click picture for an enlargement.
Italian POWs were buried at the site in Hillary Cemetery during
the war and, in 1956, the Italian Consulate in Durban arranged
the exhumation of the remains of other POWS, from a number
of other locations, and for their reburial at Hillary. The
remains of 16 were transferred from Pietermaritzburg, one
from Port Shepstone, three from Weza Forest and one from Aliwal
North. An annual mass of remembrance is celebrated at the
cemetery in November.
number of Italians were captured during WWII and many of them
were brought to South Africa as POWs. The authorities did
not have the facilities to hold them in proper POW camps and
they were allowed a good deal of freedom. Many worked on farms
in the region, including a number on my Grandfather Bert Salmon's
farm in East Griqualand. The only stipulation was that they
had to report to the authorities in Pietermaritzburg once
a year and my mother remembers escorting a number of them
there on the train on her way to boarding school. My informant
Leon Nicholson grew up in Durban during WWII and told me he
remembers Italian prisoners, particularly officers in their
finery, wandering freely around Durban, having promised not
to try and escape.
been quite a time since I added to the diary so it's appropriate
that the posting today is a big one. It is in the form of
a major article by reader Leon Nicholson about his experiences
growing up in Durban during WWII.
here to go to the page where
I post contributions from readers.
you'll enjoy the story and then, I hope, you'll sit right
down and set down your own memories and interesting stories
about Durban. And send them in together with any pictures
you might have to address on the Contact
page or to my e-mail address.
this space over the weekend for some exciting news
went by with no sign from the printer but, last Thursday,
after a very stressful two weeks, I took delivery of the first
five hundred copies of the second edition of Facts About Durban.
At one hundred pages long and clothed in its new colour cover,
it looked great, even if I say so myself. I immediately set
out to deliver the orders I had received, and had dropped
off nearly 450 copies, when I discovered that the un-corrected
proof of the book had been printed instead of the corrected
despair all once and ever since then!!!!!!
Staff and technical problems at the printer's meant that,
by late last night, only about 70 of the correct version of
the book had been printed. I haven't had a status report since
then, but Facts About Durban, Second Edition, should be published
and delivered to the shops sometime next week. Watch this
on a more cheerful note, I have posted the second part of
Gerald Buttigieg's memories
of growing up in Durban in the 1950s. This time, he remembers
going fishing with his uncle.
The Second Edition of Facts About Durban is here at last.
It's almost twice as long as the first and more than five
times as interesting.
About Durban, Second Edition, had a very nice mention in the
Sunday Tribune today. Reporter Howard Donaldson called it
a fascinating book and, I must say, I have to agree. Click
on the image below to read the article.
raised a very important issue in his article: The new
version of Facts was timed to be out in time for the 150th
anniversary of the day that Durban was declared a borough.
The anniversary was yesterday on 15 May and, do you know,
the milestone has so far been totally ignored by the powers
that be in the city. The borough is not only 150 years old
but so are some of its institutions including its Metro Police
service. The Metro Police is descended from the force first
established in the borough in 1854 in terms of Borough Ordnance
# 1 and is thus one of the oldest police forces in the southern hemisphere.
You'd think that they'd be proud of this fact and of the enormous
good that the organisation has done over the years.**
Jose! The spokesman quoted in the article says that the organisation
had not considered celebrating its anniversary because it
wants to dissassociate itself from the old City Police and
its colonial past. This only served to confirm the very strong
feeling I have been getting that, as far far as most of our
officials are concerned, Durban appeared out of nowhere just
before the first democratic elections in 1994. I really feel
that it is wrong to try and blot out bits of history that
you don't like and that it is as wrong now as it was when
the National Party were doing it during the apartheid era.
** (UPDATE 30 January 2012: It is commonly believed that the City Police is the oldest force in the Southern Hemisphere and this has often appeared in print. In fact, it isn't so because the Royal Falklands Islands Police, established on November 1, 1846, predates it. See here for details.)
very nice mention from Jon Penn in today's Idler's column
in the Natal Mercury. He set his readers a mini-quiz on Durban
using bits taken from the book and confessed that he'd only
have scored 2 out of seven without his copy of it. Thanks
have put up a picture of the article, as usual, but I'm starting
to run out of server space and I'll only be putting up essentials
until I have the problem sorted out.
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