Watering holes

posted in: New Articles 11

My friend David Baird has contributed a long article on his reminiscences of the bars, pubs and hotels that he used to frequent in Durban from the mid-1970s. If you’re anything like me, you’ll have been in a lot of the places he mentions and, quite likely, at some of the same times.

And talking of the entertainment scene and the things that Durbanites used to do for fun, I’d like to direct the attention of new readers to a page which lists a lot of the entertainment-related articles housed on this site.

Happy reading!

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11 Responses

    | Reply

    I frequented these watering holes
    The Lonsdale Hotel had the round area
    I was Miss Lonsdale August 1970
    I was runner up in February 1971
    My photo was in the window for years
    I met the singer of the band called Ballyhoo in February 1971 and had a short relationship with him Derrick Drain. The were from Bangor in Ireland,
    I spent many hours in the Lonsdale.
    I lived around the corner, ABOVE A CURIO SHOP.

  2. Gert Hofhuis
    | Reply

    What great memories, told with wonderful humour by David Baird. The upstairs pub at the Los Angeles Hotel was called Robert E Lee. Frightening though it may seem, I patronised 99% of the pubs mentioned and survived relatively unscathed. Now for your next article on pubs in the Highway area and beyond! Best wishes.

    • Tracey Ashington

      I remember the car-guard’s name was Vincent. How I recall that, I have No idea but God Bless him, such a sweet guy. (circa 1986 – 1992)

  3. Danie Fourie
    | Reply


    There seems to be no facility for responses to David Bairds fantastic expose of Durban’s drinking holes. He seems to have been a connoisseur par excellence of all the pubs he described.

    One he missed was the El Gauche in the Edward Hotel at the right hand corner of the front verandah, in its heyday the major “moffie” drinking hole and pickup joint for them in Durban. The Edward lost one of its 5 stars in consequence; later closing down this bar in order to recoup its lost star.

    The little Irish bartender David mentioned iro the Musgrave Hotel, was our neighbour, Steve Queenen, a devout Catholic, with a large family of kids, also with a Catholic style Madonna statuette in his front garden (74 Essenwood Road), which was frequently adorned with flowers. The semi where I spent the first 25 yrs of my life next door to the Queenen’s, is now where the “Nomads Backpackers” are situated. The properties in that part of Essenwood Road are unchanged to this day.

    It is in the beer garden of the Los Angeles hotel in St Thomas Rd on the Berea, where I first met my wife in 1964 (married 1965). still married to her. Today this hotel no longer exists.

    The Royal Hotel had a regal “Cape Dutch” facade. With the reconstruction of the hotel, this beautiful facade made way for the present dull modern faceless front, although the interior luxury still maintains its opulence or yore. Before Kentucky, Mac Donalds and other modern junk foods eclipsed what was traditional in Durban, the Royal was also famous for its off pavement omelette bar. My favorite being mushrooms with molten cheese. (Not like today, mushrooms were an ill affordable luxury in the 60’s).

    Danie Fourie

    • Allan Jackson

      Hi Danie. I’m afraid that David’s page was put up long before we adopted WordPress and comments. When I get a moment I’ll move your comment to that page.

  4. kel
    | Reply

    what were the names of the three bars in the Los Angeles Hotelnin Durban in the late 80s and early 90sb

    • robert moorcraft

      Sportsmans mens bar in the front
      King Cotton Ladies Bar
      Robert E Lee bar / night club – where Ricky and the Spitfires were the resident bar in the early 80’s
      Slippers Boogie Palace was next to the beer garden

  5. Tracey Ashington
    | Reply

    The downstairs bar / dance club was “Slippers”, upstairs was the more chilled bar “Robert E Lee”. I can’t remember the 3rd.

    • Gavin Nesbitt

      Cotton Club, I used to DJ at Robert E Lee for 2 x years, Nigel King Was downstairs at Slippers

  6. Donald
    | Reply

    The third bar was the Sportmans bar , it was decorated with the three local schools sport memrobelia that hung from any available piece of wall and behind the bar as a backdrop , my Mansfield High School full colours for cricket and football 1973 hung proudly there for many years gathering dust until I suppose the hotel was partly demolished to allow for the development of the present day retirement complex .

    • Grant

      Don’t forget King Cotton, the sophisticated ladies bar to try and impress the “chicks” 😉

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