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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Old Mill Way

Syd Oram has written in with a query on the origin of the name Old Mill Way in Durban North. He thought it might been named after a sugar mill which may or may not have been where the the Crusaders ground is today.

I had a look at my book of old Durban street names and it says that Old Mill Way takes its name from Labistour’s Sugar Mill which stood on site at the foot of the road. No dates are given but it says the road runs from Northway to Ocean Way and I presume the mill must have been near the Ocean Way corner. Ocean way no longer exists but, from the looks of things on Google maps, the Crusaders ground would be about right.

Does anyone have more info or a picture of the mill?

In a previous email Syd shared a few memories sparked by an article on the site. He wrote:

I happened to open an old article posted by Gerald Buttigieg in August 2005. I had many a chuckle about some of the stories he related. Depending on where they were held, the Saturday night “sessions” either could be good fun, or a battleground of serious proportions. The Norwegian Hall opposite the L.A. was a regular venue and there were times that I wondered whether I had gone to a fight and a session had broken out, or whether it was the other way round! You always had to have the “Breekers” barging in, “soeking kak”. Even the Journey’s End Hall in Kensington Drive Durban North had its fair share of rumbles.

I couldn’t help but remember the shebeen in Umgeni Road. I think it was demolished when work started on the new railway station. I think it was upstairs in a fairly insalubrious building, which looked about 100 years old even then. A bottle of Mainstay or Klippies would cost about R1.50 in the early sixties, probably about R150 in today’s money. But when a lad is thirst at 11 o’clock of a Saturday evening and has forgotten to buy supplies, price doesn’t come into it!

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Durban Schools : Matriculation Classes

Taking a cue from the Glenwood Matric Class photo posted a while back, I thought of the idea of posting Durban School Matric classes over the years. I’ve cleared it with Allan Jackson and he liked the idea. It would also create a home for the photos as stuff tends to get hidden in various posts and many drift away from the original subject. Unfortunately to post a picture you will have to send it to Allan who will add it to the site. You can contact him via Contact Us. Please restrict the class photos to Durban Schools and Matrics only . Give the date and names if possible which will make it more interesting. No doubt the photos can and probably will, attract comment and it will be interesting to see what gets posted.

The first one I am posting is the Matric Class of 1954. That is the year I arrived back in Durban to live here until leaving in 2000. I can remember the late Eddie Barth was the Head Prefect. Being a junior then, one held these seniors in awe. I will add comment on some I knew and in later years as an Old Boy and Secretary of the Marist Old Boys Association met many of them in person.

Marist Brothers’ College St Henry’s Durban : Matriculation Class 1954.

Click on picture to enlarge.

Back Row: Picture Left to Right :
? , R Atkinson, H Schuurmans, Leo Gibson, R. de Billot, P Savage, C Kerdachi.

Front Row: R Nell, Jock O’Connor*, C. Paul, Edward Barth*, Rev. Brother Eugene*, J. Rock-Perring, Ed Petterson,
Roger Seymour, P du Toit.

* Deceased.

Names have been taken from a Marist Archive and what is posted may be incorrect. Please correct errors noted.

Brief notes: Jock O’Connor served as a lawyer virtually his whole working life with the firm, Browne Brodie. He managed the Pinetown branch for many years. Edward Barth took over the firm Medwoods from his father Alfred Barth. Edward built the firm up substantially. One remembers the Medwood’s vans being an olive/khaki colour green with the slogan “Around the Corner, Around the World”. Later Medwoods had the contract to move racehorses between Summerveld and the race courses in Durban and Pietermaritzburg.

Another interesting fact is that Edward’s mother, Maisie Barth negotiated the sale of David Don’s property in South Ridge Road called The Maze to the Marist Brothers when it came onto the market in the mid 1920s. David Don was member of the Natal Legislative Council, co director of Natal Estates and a noted bibliophile. His collection of Africana books and pamphlets were donated to the Durban Town Council in 1915 following his death. St Henry’s opened its doors in 1929 with the first classes being held in the house, the school buildings only being completed 1931/1932.

Continuing with this series here is the 1955 Matriculation Class. Click on photo to enlarge

What is interesting in this photo is that all the matriculants wearing the school blazer have a flash stitched to the top blazer pocket. This became a tradition in that all matric classes thereafter sewed a yellow flash to the top pocket. This must have been the first year of this trend which was not introduced “officially” as far as I know.

Of the class if I remember correctly Mike Parsons played Natal Cricket later. The late Julian Williamson studied for the priesthood.

I do not have the 1956 Matriculation Class photo but here is the next one, 1957. Click on photo to enlarge.

BACK ROW -Pat Trimborn, Gerald Byrne (D), Andre Smit (D), Henry Galea, Patrick Leeman (D) Kenneth Etheridge (D), Conell Starke (D)

THIRD ROW -Terence Riley (D), Siegfried Berger, Robert White, Peter Rhodes, Neil Groome (D), Thys de Waardt (D), John Starke, Edmund Browne,
Jack de Billot (D)

Second Row – Mike Pithouse (D), Neville Savage, George Evans (D) David Klein, Pierre Lavoipierre, Bruce McKune (D), John Butt (D), Walter Davey, George Reilly

Front Row – Stan Pretorius, Tony Formo (D), Percy Vorster, Brian Parsons (D), Tony Seneque, Raymond Jerome (D)

D Deceased

Pierre Lavoipierre entered the priesthood and served the Durban diocese. He officiated at my wedding in 1970! Pat Trimborn son of Max trimborn (of Comrades fame) played cricket for SA, Stan Pretorius was only 15 in his Matric year!!!

Matric Class 1958

Back : Mick Parker* Clive Phipson Brian Shipton

Mid : Colin Andrew Mike Welman Peter Erlich Roger Falconer Denis Hersey A Smith Dave Nozaic

Front: Eddie McPetrie* Edward Barbieri Joseph Pieri Roger Markham M de Broglio Edward Hughes* A Dabrowski Daniel Kline Willi Scherzer

*Deceased to my knowledge.

Clive Phipson became a world ice skating champion. Joe Pieri was “knighted” by the Italian Government some years ago for his work with the Italian community in KwaZulu Natal. For many years he was very involved with the Juventus Soccer Team associated with the Italian Club in KZN.

Matric Class 1959

Back – Eric Dokoupil, Robin Pascal, Edward King, Camillo Fiore, Kenneth McLennan, Michael Lawson, A Doncy,
Middle – Derek Jones, Neville Kerdachi, David Gibson, Lawrence Gibson, Terence Fripp, Patrick Guilfoyle, Robert Archibald, Colin Andrews, R Beattie
Front– Ronald Fowler, Alan Miller, J Pedersen, Clive Pitt, Roderick O’Connor, David Hayden, Michael Rhodes, Owen Hughes, Lawrence Farr.

I am including a photo of the the 1959 1st Cricket XI. This team had the honour of beating Durban High School at cricket the year the star studded DHS side included players like Barry Richards and Lee Irvine. I think it was the first time St. Henry’s had beaten DHS and recall that on that Monday assembly, the team received a special accolade from the boys on their achievement. Lawrence Gibson was captain.

St Henry’s First Cricket XI 1959

Back Row: Gordon McLoughlin*, Brian Privett*, Alan Miller*, Patrick Guilfoyle, Barry Pedersen* John Kennedy (Scorer)

Seated : Jack Waldman, Tom Davis Lawrence Gibson, Rev Brother Marcellin (Coach), Anthony Hortop, Clive Pitt, Creigh Kenton.

* Deceased

Matriculation Class 1960

This my “first” Matric Class and was my “ Annus Horribilis”. To explain. Came the year end results and I was notified that I had not passed. I recall being away on holiday and my late sister telegrammed me with the bad news. The holiday was cut short and I returned to Durban. I remember immediately on getting back I had to decide what I was going to do so my mother and I made an appointment with the Principal, Brother Ephrem. We sat with him in his office and he laid down the choices available. Ask for a remark but if the result remained the same, I would not be accepted to repeat the year. Rewrite the examination in April and again if I did not pass I would not be able to come back to St. Henry’s. The last option was repeat the full year in 1961. Two in the class opted to repeat the year, Richard Perry and myself. In later years I was told that only five in the class had passed. I have never been able to confirm this and sadly this class had a reunion in 1961 and never again. I repeated Matric in 1961 and passed with a University Pass. I often wonder if I should not have gone for a remark but that is water under the bridge now.

Back Row: Fred Brown, Richard Perry, Denis Brown, Derek Jones , Peter Warby, Michael Sommer,
Chris Proctor , Ronald Rosseau*

Mid Row: Lester Coelen, Denis Phipson, Barry Pedersen*, Simon Noome, Paul Holden,
John Hughes*, Patrick Homan, John Summerton, Raymond Ambrosini

Front Row: Camillo Fiore, Peter Gibb*, Colin Hebrard, Rev. Brother Ephrem *(Principal),
John Vos (Head Boy) , Rev. Brother Marcellin (Class Teacher) , Chris Garvin, Arnold van Hest*,
Derek Wilkes

Ground : Emmanuel de Passos, Michael Byrne, Creigh Kenton, Gerald Buttigieg, Clive Hook*
* Deceased
As I said this class dispersed and we never got together again. Emmanuel de Passos was ordained a priest and is now in semi retirement at his old Chatsworth parish. Lester was Penny Coelen’s brother.

Matriculation Class 1961.

My “second” Matric was hard graft when I think back. In the languages all the set work books were different. Matric for the JMB exam was in a sense a two year course, Standard 9 and Standard 10. Set work books covered in Std 9 were carried over to Std 10 with additional ones added. This was for all languages. The other subjects had the same content. So I had to pick up on all the setwork books that the Std 9 had had.

Back Row: Warren Myers, Mike Hennessy, John McKinnon, Paul Smits, John O’Connor*, Ian Brennan*

2nd Row: Bryan Summers*, Laurence Olivier, Dave Haskins, John Lander*, Peter Smorenburg*, Peter Olivier*, John Shelton, Ray Martin*

3rd Row: Dennis Larriviere, Michael Haynes, Robin Soanes, John Kennedy, Rev Brother Marcellin (Class Teacher), Chris Wilkinson, Ian Halliday, Richard Perry, Erwin Rohrs

Ground: Gerald Buttigieg, Norman Taylor*, Anthony Hortop, Jack Waldman, Dunstan Browne.
* Deceased
Click on photos to enlarge.

Dunstan Browne was the leader of the 60’s band Dunny and the Showmen. Anthony “Toppy” Hortop became a teacher and taught at Glenwood for many years.
This year ended my schooling with St Henry’s which covered the period 1954 to 1961. Unfortunately I did not get class photos of my early years there but some of the boys in this class were with me since 1954.

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Shepstone Whaling Company?

posted in: InfoRequests | 5

Ian Hart has written in to ask for our help. He writes:

“I am researching the activities of a Swedish man, Charles O. Johnson, who became one half of the firm Irvin & Johnson, Cape Town. Johnson started whaling from the Durban/Natal area in 1912, and soon after took an interest in The Shepstone Whaling & Fishing Co. which was apparently started by a group of Norwegians from Port Shepstone. I am trying to find out where the Shepstone company’s whaling station was located and hope you can help. There is one report that Johnson started at The Bluff, Durban, but may have moved on to Port Shepstone.”

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Chelmsford Primary School Class 1 1963

Karen Ward has sent me this 1963 Class 1 photo. She cannot remember the names of the pupils but she was the only girl in the class and stands in the middle of the back row. Two away from her is Tony Leon, who took up politics after attending DHS. She thinks the tall boy standing on the right is Clive Nanking. She would like to know if any one can recognise the others. Anyone have a bit of history on this school which was on the Berea?


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Born in Jacobs

Reader Ken Rigney recently sent in some memories of his early life in in Jacobs and hopes we could help with photos and other information to add to his stock of information.

My name is Ken RIGNEY. I was born in the Jacobs area of Durban in 1930. I left South Africa in 1956 to live in Southampton, Hampshire in the UK. I’m now in the process of writing my life story for my great grandchildren to read one day.

Can anyone help me obtain photos of the Jacobs area during the 1930’s. I’ve tried all avenues including Durban’s newspapers libraries, factories and developers to no avail.

When we lived in Salisbury Road, later renamed Paisley Road there were no houses, roads or factories. My granddad Albert STOFFLES built the first five houses where we lived. He also built roads and sold properties for the big business owners in Durban. Sadly I don’t possess any photos of the area before firms such as Ropes & Mattings and another firm called Malcomess arrived. Read More

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Da Gama Clock Update


Most Durbanites are familiar with the Da Gama Clock which has stood on Victoria Embankment for many years. It has been in a sorry state for many years and was extensively vandalised but the city, thankfully, is now doing something about it. Our informant Martin Prange from the municipality Urban Design &  Landscape Planning department at the City Architects wrote in yesterday: Read More

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Customs Clock

posted in: InfoRequests | 1

Reader Melissa Field wrote in with a query I can’t answer (not unusual) but perhaps the colloquium can provide the information.

Is that a CLOCK on the side of the Customs and Excise Building in Bay Terrace? At the moment there are NO HANDS at all. But all of the old photos on Google  have one hand around the 9. My husband thought it might be a vertical sundial. He seems to remember that there was always only ONE hand.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Thank you,
Melissa Field

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Tram shelter upgrade

posted in: Pictures | 0

Here’s some good news for a change. I recently received some pictures from Kevan Mardon showing before and after the restoration and repair of the tram shelter at the top of Florida Road.

And here’s the shelter after the completion of work by Southern Roofing. The funding was apparently provided by the municipality.

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Durban and Districts

posted in: InfoRequests | 3

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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