FAD back in print

posted in: Housekeeping | 0

Yay!! Facts About Durban is available again at only AUD22.00 per copy plus postage from on-demand printer Lulu.com.

It took a while but I finally got my A into G and uploaded the book’s files to Lulu. Ordering is as simple as going to my page on Lulu and adding one copy or 500 to the shopping cart. Lulu will then print and bind the copies you ordered and mail them to you. Read More

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Durban and Districts

posted in: InfoRequests | 2

Reader Tarryn has written to ask for info on a research project she’s doing. She wrote:

“I have been asked to do some research on the development of Durban’s boundaries from 1935 particularly with them extending North way to Umhlanga area. Furthermore, I need to understand what is meant by the term Durban and Districts. Please could you point out any useful material that I can consider if you perhaps know. Thanks.”

Can anyone help her?

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In Memoriam : Allan Hannah and Len Jones

posted in: Uncategorized | 2

I have just recently been informed that my personal friend, Allan Hannah passed away in September 2016. Allan contributed to Facts about Durban in various posts. This note is to inform his many friends that may not know of his passing.

I have also read that Len Jones, well known in fishing and underwater spear fishing circles in Durban has also passed on. He also contributed to the FAD site.

My condolences to the families.

Gerald Buttigieg

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North Beach

posted in: Image | 1
North Beach: 1920s.
North Beach: 1920s.


This wonderful old postcard was sent in by Derek Coleman who says it was originally sent by his grandmother. It isn’t dated but Derek says he things it dates from the 1920s.

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What happened in Durban 50 years ago 1967.

posted in: Uncategorized | 2

What happened in Durban 50 years ago 1967.

My late father in law , Archie Black who put these scrap books together , did not paste much about Durban this year . That year I was still an unknown to the family so I do not know why or whether the goings on in Durban were minimal. He did record some world events though so to fill in, I am going to include them just for the record.

As usual the first event was the Dusi Canoe Marathon. The 1967 winners were Ken “Tank” Rogers and Charles Mason. This was Tank’s first win but a second for Charles Mason who was a winner with Don Cobbledick in 1965. The win was in a record time of 10 hrs 30 mins and 35 secs. This was Tank’s third Dusi and he had also completed 7 Comrades. Second in the Dusi were Willem and Roelof van der Riet who were favourites to win with third place going to Don Alborough and K. Wright. Tank comes from a very sporting family and his younger brothers Dave and George were also Comrade finishers. Dave I think now holds the record for the most Comrades completed. The Rogers brothers were also into Hockey and I played league with them for several seasons in the late 60s and early 70s.

A burst water main in Ridge Road on the Berea spread destruction over a block wide as far as Vause Road. Properties including a nursery school, a residential hotel (Glyncourt), the Silverton bowling club and six homes were flooded by the raging mud flow. The Silverton bowling greens were covered a foot deep with mud. The cause was a ruptured section of pipe , 10 feet long , that blew off the main. The pressure and tremendous amount of water released caused a trench 8 feet deep, 50 feet wide and 50 yards either way.

The former Town Clerk of Durban, Mr W.L. “Bill” Howes passed away at his Durban North home. He was Town Clerk from 1954 to 1967.

Ten Durban lovelies at Natal University were nominated as Rag Queen finalists. They were Carol Hawkes, Moyra McMillan, Monica Fairall, Fiona Murray, Wendy-Ann Earl, Kunnie Kooijman, Rene van Vuuren, Sue Lovell-Green, Trilly van der Hoven, Glynis Plenderneith . The eventual winner was Wendy-Ann Earl with Carol Hawkes and Monica Fairall as her two Princesses.

Sadly both Princesses have passed on, Monica Fairall some years ago and Carol Hawkes passed away in 2016.

A first at Rag this year was Cupid , an “instant romance” project launched by the men students. Men, and girl students from the University and Durban Teachers Training College were asked to fill in elaborate data cards with details of themselves. Approximately 1000 students supplied information. The cards were then fed into a computer and an “electronic match maker” produced a name and telephone number for each student. At a Rag social held at Students Union , the designated couples
met and matched.
In a newspaper photo of the event , I see the band that played that night was a Group called Blue, with my ex-army friend Billy Gaugain on the drums.

The Passion Play was performed in Durban with David Horner as the Christus.

Barbara Lavender (18) was the Natal regional winner of the Miss Teenage Personality competition.

Radio Port Natal, the region’s new FM service came into being this year. Radio Port Natal joined Radio Highveld and Radio Good Hope the other national FM services. This replaced the old AM service which had been the service standard since radio was inaugurated in Natal.

Mr Alec Blaikie , a prominent Durban businessman passed away at the age of 68. He was the founder of the large timber and general merchant company, A. Blaikie and Co.

The Durban City Council decided that the Vasco da Gama Clock situated at the bottom end of Point Road at the docks entrance would be moved to a site on the Esplanade.

The Royal Navy’s HMS Lynx, an anti-submarine frigate visited Durban.

Durban’s new Chief Constable, Commandant V.C. Jearey took up his position as head of Durban’s City Police.

Miss Freshette at Durban Teachers’ Training College was Sharron Ellis with Marilyn Irvine and Susan Schoeman as her two princesses.

“Snowy” Suter , Natal and Springbok flank forward announces his retirement from rugby on medical advice. Two serious shoulder dislocations brought an end to his promising career. Suter (27) represented Natal on 62 occasions and played for the BOKs twice.

The SAA Viscount “Rietbok” crashed off the Pondoland coast killing all aboard.

One of the gantries serving the Maydon Wharf grain elevator was completely destroyed by fire. The heat of the fire caused the structure to collapse on itself.

The Natal Rugby XV played a match against the visiting Scottish Borders side, beating them 15-8.

The 1967 Comrades Marathon was won by Durban’s Manie Kuhn in a dramatic finish. This finish is still one of the most talked about as the runner up, Tommy Malone stumbled near the finish allowing Manie Kuhn to break the tape one second ahead. Manie’s winning time was 5.54.10 whilst Tommy recorded 5.54.11. Third was Gordon Baker, fourth T. Blankley, fifth F. Steyn and sixth D. Morrison.
I remember the finish line in that race was at the RDLI Drill Hall Grounds near the Race course. The newspaper lists that there were 500 entries as compared to the thousands today.

Miss Disa Duvenstein (21) from Umbogintwini was voted Miss South Africa 1967.

The 1967 Durban July was dead heated for the first time in its long history. The favourite Sea Cottage ridden by Robbie Sivewright and Jollify ridden by Johnnie Gorton could not be separated in the photo finish. Third was King Willow ridden by B. Little and fourth was Red Sands with N. Gottsco up.

The first rugby test between the Springboks and the French team took place at Kings Park . The score was 26-3 in South Africa’s favour.
The Bloemfontein Test was won by the Springboks 16-3, the Ellis Park Test was won by France 19-14 and the final test at Newlands was drawn 6-6.

Eric Egan the early morning SABC announcer known to everyone in South Africa passed away at the age of 64.

Keith Oxlee decided to hang up his rugby boots at the age of 33. On Tuesday October 10th , a public holiday in those days, The Natal XV played against the South Africabn Barbarians beating them 32-22. After the game, Keith took off the black and white Natal No. 10 jersey for the last time and handed it to the winger Syd Nomis. Keith played for Natal 98 times and represented South Africa 19 times.

The Sunday Tribunes Singer of the Year Award was given to Eve Madison.

That was all the local events that were recorded in the 1967 scrapbook. As I mentioned he did record other events which I will list below as some were quite significant in that year.

One thing to comment about and that concerns people who are now in their early 70s. It would have been just about the years 1965 to 1970, that a lot of us would have tied the knot. We would have been in our 20s by and large and so if you are that age group and still married well golden wedding anniversaries must be coming up. I know my one school friend who I am still in contact with will celebrate his 51st wedding anniversary this year and there must me many coming up for theirs. Quite an achievement I reckon for this day and age.

Other events of 1967

The then world’s largest vessel , a Japanese oil tanker, the Idemitsu Maru sets out on her maiden voyage. She weighed 210 000 tons deadweight and her deck was 1121 feet long and 164 feet wide.

A full size mock up of the Anglo French supersonic airliner, the Concord was put on display at the Paris Air Show. The first Concorde flew in 1969 and the super jets were taken out of service in 2003. After a near faultless life span of close to 30 years, an unfortunate flying episode that occurred in France in 2000 killing 100 passengers , 9 crew and 4 people on the ground closed the chapter on the Concord airliners.

The American Apollo space programme suffered a serious setback when three astronauts, Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee perished in a fire which enveloped the space capsule they were seated in during a simulated count down. They died instantly in the flash fire .

The Soviets also had a set back in their space programme when space man, Vladimir Komarov was killed when the space craft he was in, failed to deploy its parachute on its descent to Earth.

Cassius Clay (still Cassius to the boxing world then) defeated Ernie Terrell of the USA to retain his world heavy weight boxing crown.

On June 5th, the 1967 Arab Israeli War broke out . Known later as the Six Day War, the invading Egyptians were forced all the way back to the Suez Canal, with the Israeli forces capturing Jerusalem and other areas in Egypt and Jordan. This war was noted for the thousands of army boots left behind in the desert by the retreating Egyptian forces.

The American aircraft carrier Forrestal was badly damaged by a fire which broke out aboard.

Jayne Mansfield, the Hollywood star, was killed in a road accident in New Orleans. Not many may know but Mariska Hargitay on Law and Order, Special Victims Unit is Jayne’s daughter.

Karen Muir (now deceased) South Africa’s 14 year old swimming star, smashes the world 110 yard backstroke record at Coventry England.

Frew McMillan and Bob Hewitt win the men’s doubles championship at Wimbledon. The first South Africans to win a title at the prestigious tennis tournament.

Dr Christiaan Barnard performs the world’s first heart transplant at the Groote Schuur Hospital Cape Town. The first recipient was Mr Louis Washkansky with the donor being Denise Darvall aged 25 who with her mother had been killed in a motor accident.

It is proper to remember the whole team which were involved in the historic operation. They were: Professor C Barnard, Professor W Schrire cardiologist, Mr. R Hewitson surgeon, Mr. S.C. Bosman surgeon, Mr. M Barnard surgeon, Mr. T.J. Hancock surgeon, Mr T. O’Donovan surgeon,
Dr. J. Ozinsky anaesthetist, Dr M.C. Botha pathologist.
Technicians : Misses J. Pritchard, A. Friedman, E. van den Berg, F. North Mr J.van Heerden and Mr N. Vermaak.
Theatre Sisters: A.M. Russouw, M.A. Rautenbach, A. Lambrechts, P. Jordaan.

Sadly Mr Washkansky dies 8 days later due to a lung infection.

Donald Campbell is killed when his speed boat Bluebird flips whilst making an attempt on the world’s water speed record. The accident happened on Coniston Water in the Lake District, England.

The Cunard liner Queen Elizabeth II is launched.

Harold Holt the Australian prime minister drowns while swimming in the surf.

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Fynnland Beach

posted in: Mini Memories | 4

Here’s another message that rather fell through the cracks. It arrived quite a long time ago from reader Bles Grobbelaar. He wrote:

Hi Allan, Durbanites and friends

Yesterday I was an 11-year-old bare-footed youth swimming at Fynnland Beach and today 60 years later I am retired after having lectured for 39 years at universities in Australia, NZ and good old SA.

Talking of Fynnland Beach: The folks who are aware of the fact that there once was a beach at Fynnlands are getting fewer and fewer. We moved to Durban in 1948 when housing was scarce and had to live in a tent on Fynnland Beach until we could find a house. The luckier ones lived in houseboats on the beach and contributed to the unhealthy conditions that probably led to the closure of the beach in around 1954.

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Musical memories

posted in: Mini Memories | 13

Reader Keith Parker wrote in recently with some memories:

Hi Allan

Came across your website and it brought back so many memories. I am a drummer and as a very young boy had the honour of playing with Dennis Van Rooyen at functions in and around Durban. We played at weddings and many MOTH dances. I would like to know please when Dennis passed away as I am sure he is no longer with us. He was such a personality and an artist.The sound of that Hammond organ has stayed with me for a long time, being 70 years old now.

Another item on your site was regarding Lee Men Limited. the group used to play at the Arena Club which doubled as a boxing academy run by Doug Dolan if I remember correctly. During that period I was playing with a group called Limits 4 and actually we took over playing at Arena when Lee Men Limited finished up there. Later on the group became The Village Green and we had a fixed venue at the Ocean View Hotel in Musgrave Road.

Such wonderful times.

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Aviation queries

posted in: InfoRequests | 4
Durban Wings Club Piper Tripacer c 1955. Picture courtesy Michael Traynor.
Durban Wings Club Piper Tripacer c 1955. Picture courtesy Michael Traynor.


Reader Michael Traynor has been in touch with a couple of queries. The first is to do with the picture, above, of a Piper Tripacer which apparently once belonged to the Durban Wings Club. It was taken in around 1955 and unfortunately the last registration letter on the tail was cut off leaving us with ZS-CC. Does anyone know what the missing letter would have been?

He also wrote:

“LADY MARY HEATH. I wish to express my thanks to Allan and his web site Facts about Durban for the contacts he assisted me establish when researching Mabel & Sheila Glass. I am now researching Lady Mary Heath the Irish aviatrix of the 1920’s. On 11 January 1928 she arrived in Durban during her flight from Cape Town to London. I would be very interested to hear from any of your readers that might have any photographs of Lady Heath during her flight through Africa and in particular her visit to Durban in January 1928. Thank you to your readers for their assistance in the past. Kind regards, Michael Traynor, Dublin, Ireland.”

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posted in: InfoRequests | 1

Reader Ian Forbes sent a picture which he found among his grandparents’ effects and he believes  it was taken in Durban circa 1916. That does look like the Bluff in the background but apart from that I have no ideas. Anyone know anything about it?

Picture courtesy Ian W Forbes.
Picture courtesy Ian W Forbes.


Reader Karl Fischer has a query about Maydon Wharf. He wrote:

I am currently doing my masters in architecture, and my selected site for my dissertation design is between Canal Rd & Fish Wharf St, behind Wilson’s Wharf.

Where I need your input is to try and locate a photographic article that did the rounds on social media about six months to a year ago that highlighted the vacant buildings and forgotten industry along Maydon Wharf. Does this ring any bells for you? Or would you be able to direct me to something similar?

(My research is looking at the hard skills shortages in South Africa and the trend toward university education over technical/vocational education.)

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Musgrave Centre

posted in: Pictures | 2

Arthur Gammage sent in some interesting pictures of Musgrave Centre. He wrote:

Good day Allan. One of your respondents mentioned the Musgrave Centre and asked about any images. I have an artist’s impression and a photo of the original centre as attached, from journals in the UKZN Architecture Library.

Gerald Mullins has the distinction of designing this first shopping mall in the inner suburbs in 1958. It featured modernist decorative elements including a suspended curved concrete hood over the entrance. The centre has been enlarged several times, with the addition of a tower block, losing its 1950s character. One such extension involved the successful transplanting of a Baobab tree on the site to a position on the Musgrave Road frontage.
A notable feature of the centre is that it had a close street frontage from the outset, rather than the typical suburban model where the building is set back with open car parking intervening.

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I have just received a scan of a very interesting airmail postcard which was sent in by Derk van Groningen who acquired it during a trip to Zimbabwe. It is dated 5 March 1925 and there was an experimental airmail service between Durban and Cape Town at that time which is referred to here on the site.  I’m hoping readers can fill in some more of the details

Scan courtesy Derk van Groningen.
Scan courtesy Derk van Groningen.


From the message on the reverse of the card it would seem that it was carried in the first mail flight which would have been (as far as I know) the first airmail flight in South Africa. The message reads:

“Our first air mail leaves today 5.3.25 so I am sending you a post card. I hope you are well. Love to all. G.”

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