first set out on the Facts About Durban trail, I decided to
go into Durban's history in a big way, but not to ignore interesting
bits from the present. In that vein, I have a story penned
by Chris Hoare for you today. It concerns the Single Buoy
Mooring, just off the Bluff, through which 80% of South Africa's
crude oil imports are pumped ashore. See
the story here.
some time I've been meaning to put up a page about ships which
have been called Durban. I've finally got around to it and
have put it up here
where you can see pictures and details of the vessels. I do
know of at least one vessel, Ellerman Lines' City of Durban,
which does not yet feature on the list but I would welcome
hearing of others. A picture of the City of Durban is on its
way to me but I know very little about her, except that she
may have served in the Royal Navy as the armed merchantman
HMS City of Durban.
on from the last entry in the diary concerning ships which
have been called Durban, I have now put
up a page where I have written up the details of HMS Durban's
Visit to Durban in 1926. I culled the information from a very
interesting souvenir booklet which has come my way. Published
by the Durban Publicity Association, it provides a fascinating
snapshot of Durban at that time.
received a request from Ingrid van der Burgh for information
on Air Guards who served in Durban during WWII and who apparently
drilled regularly in Air Force uniforms at Greyville Racecourse
after work. Please contact me here
if you have any information for us. There is also a page here
which has a list of other questions we'd like the answers
seem to be concentrating on Ships Called Durban at the moment,
and I have yet another snippet for you. It comes in the form
of a wonderful postcard of the Ellerman Lines vessel, City
of Durban. Click here,
or on the picture, to view that very interesting page.
received a request from Tessa King for information on the
Clairmont Estate in Durban. Please see the Research
Requests page for details on that and other research requests.
ago in Metrobeat, our ratepayers' magazine, there appeared
an excellent article, The Port Captain's Daughter. It was
about Barbara Bowyer's memories of the 1930s, when her father,
Captain William Weller, was Port Captain of Durban. The article
provided a fascinating glimpse of the Durban of those bygone
days and I decided to try get permission to reprint it on
this website. I'm delighted to say that the author, Vivian
Atwood, readily gave her permission and I've put the story
for you to read.
Green, a visitor to this site, wrote in to ask about the Perla
Seidle Gibson, Durban's Lady In White. I included a picture
of her statue on the very
first page of this diary but, as I had covered her in
the printed version of Facts About Durban, I didn't put in
any details about her on the site. Here, to repair that omission
at last, is the piece I wrote for the book:
on a visit to the harbour, in April 1940, the 50-year-old
Perla Siedle Gibson is called upon to sing for the men
on a departing troopship. She vows to meet and sing for
every ship connected with the war which arrives or leaves
the harbour. Dressed in her trademark white dresses and
floppy red hat she meets and sings for well over 1300
ships before the war ends, even on the day she receives
news that her son Roy has been killed fighting in Italy.
She sometimes sings 250 songs in a day and achieves worldwide
fame as the Lady in White. [A plaque presented by the
Royal Navy can still be seen on the Point at the spot
where she sang most often. There is also a statue of her
located next to the Ocean Terminal on T-Jetty which was
unveiled in its present location on August 15th, 1995.
It had first been viewed on March 24th by Queen Elizabeth
and Prince Philip at the wharf where the Royal Yacht H.M.S.
Britannia was moored during their visit to Durban. The
boarding establishment at Glenwood High School was named
Gibson House after Roy and its colour is white in her
statue of Perla Siedle Gibson, The Lady in White
I've got a snippet from Rosemary Dixon-Smith for you. It's
a clipping from the Natal Witness of 26 June 1880 reporting
the arrival of the Union Royal Mail Steamer Durban at Cape
Town. The clipping lists the passengers on their way to Natal
and several bits of world news which the Durbanites of the
day would have found most informative.
Click here or on
the image, left, to view the page where I've posted the clipping
and details of ships which have been called Durban.
busy putting up a page on Currie's Memorial Fountain and the
Da Gama Clock. The Scots were the masters of decorative ironwork
in the 19th century and these are fine examples of that craft.
What made them even more interesting to me was when I discovered
that they are made up of separate pieces and that buyers could
mix and match until they got a decorative piece which suited
their taste and budget. A number of people then wrote in to
tell of monuments and fountains in other places which had
components in common with ours. Some of this has been mentioned
in the diary before but I have now moved all of that to its
own page, and added some new information that has recently
come my way.
here to view
think I've been offline for this long ever since I started
this diary more than two years ago. I've been quite hard-pressed,
what with having to earn a living and other things. At least
I've still been collecting stuff even if I haven't put it
up. Today I've got a very interesting article for you which
was contributed by Gerald Buttigieg and concerns the things
that Durban youth did to entertain themselves in the late
1950s and 1960s. I personally ejoyed the article very much
and I'm sure you will too. Read
ago, I once again visited Margaret Surmon, the widow of Les
Surmon who was joint MD of the Union Whaling Company when
it ceased operations in Durban, and her daughter Caroline.
While paging through Margaret's whaling memorabilia, I came
across a clipping and partially ruined photograph concerning
the whale spotting flights which were flown for many years
from Durban. By a strange coincidence, the clipping was published
in the Daily News fifty years ago this week. I have updated
the whaling page, here,
with the two pictures.
I've got a book review for you. It's Views in Colonial Natal
by Nigel Hughes and is a catalogue of the paintings done in
Southern Africa by Cathcart William Methven. Methven was a
multi-talented individual who not only did a stint as Durban's
Harbour Engineer, but was also involved in the acquisition
of Durban's Town Hall organ, and was the pre-eminent landscape
artist in Durban at the time. Read
the review here.
visitors to these pages will know that I have a burgeoning
collection of ships and planes which have been called Durban.
I have recently discovered that there was even a shipping
line called Durban Lines. I managed to obtain two colour slides
of the Durban Lines vessel Berea alongside in Lourenco Marques
(now Maputo). Check out my Ships
Called Durban page here.
I'm sure you'll be curious to know how many people visit this
site in addition to yourself. Just click the picture on the
right and you can see the graph I've prepared for you. The
purple bars represent the number of unique visits every month
and the brown bars are the number of pages viewed by the visitors.
also started a page of Durban postcards which I'll be adding
to occasionally. Click here,
or on the picture below, to check out the first card and for
details on who posted it.
last while I've been amassing a considerable amount of information
on ships that have been called Durban. I'm grateful to Robert
Davies for adding to my stock of information on ships which
have been called City of Durban. I've added the info to the
SCD page here.
put up a vintage postcard of Mitchell Park on my postcards
ago I spent a very interesting morning with Terry Tribe who
was a blacksmith with the Union Whaling Company. He worked
in Durban but also went a number of times to the Antarctic
for the summer whaling season aboard the factory ship Abraham
Larsen. My meeting with Terry was a shamefully long time ago,
but I've only just got round to putting up a page of his experiences.
Check it out here.
courtesy Terry Tribe
general page on whaling in Durban is here
had an article on Flying Boats in Durban published in the
edition of our ratepayers' magazine Metrobeat. The story was
made up from material on my flying boat pages here
and there has been a terrific response from people with additional
information to offer on this wonderful chapter in Durban's
history. I have now spoken to people who travelled on the
flying boats, people who worked on them, one person who sold
tickets for them, a person related to the Short Brothers who
made most of them and, in the near future, I have every hope
that I will be able able to interview one of the pilots.
of getting in touch with everyone who who phoned was complicated
by the fact that I accidentally gave Kevan Mardon's telephone
number in the article. He has valiantly been taking messages
and I am in the process of speaking to everyone to who phoned,
and going to see a lot of them. The information that I get
will be put up on the site as soon as I can.
courtesy Barbara Le Grange
Contents Page | Previous
Diary Page | Next Diary