What happened in Durban 50 years ago?
Last year I wrote up an article covering what happened in Durban 50 years ago. I used my late father in law’s newspaper cut-outs as reference. I am doing the same this year so here goes:
The winners of the Dusi Canoe Marathon were the doubles pair, Derek Antrobus and Peter Gladwin of Pietermaritzburg.
The first intake of Active Citizen Force trainees from Durban leave Durban Station on Jan 2nd to join their country wide counterparts at various military basic training bases. ACF Military Training of 9 months duration is now virtually compulsory for every able bodied white male. My turn came up in April when the second batch were called up.
Durban’s claim to be the third largest city in South Africa is refuted. The 3rd largest city is awarded to Soweto.
The Transvaal Castle, built in 1961, one of two new Union Castle ships arrived in Durban on her maiden voyage. In 1966 she was sold to the South African Marine Corporation , “Safmarine” who now joined Union Castle on the South Africa–UK run. In 1977, the SA Vaal was sold to a consortium and used for cruising in the Caribbean under the name “Festivale”.
Marcel Marceau, much acclaimed as one of the greatest mimes ever, has a week long run of performances at the Alhambra Theatre in March.
Kingsmead Sports Ground in Old Fort Road is considered for demolition as the ground falls into major disrepair.
Though not Durban related, John Glenn becomes the first American astronaut in space as he orbits the Earth 3 times in 4 hours 56 minutes before splashing down in the Caribbean near Puerto Rico. He was the third person in space after Yuri Gagarin and Gherman Titov.
Miss Geraldine Waters is chosen as Miss Freshette at University of Natal Freshers’ Ball held at the Athlone Hotel. The two runners up are Miss Rosemary Mackenzie and Miss Lee Parker. All of Durban.
The Passion Play presented every 5 years is being performed in Durban. Directed by Father Noel Coughlan, David Horner takes the role of Christ for the 3rd time. Durban is the only city in the world allowed to present the Passion Play getting special permission from Oberammergau.
The tragic death of Terence John Flusk (17) having been assaulted at a house party shocks Durban. The accused aged 18, is found guilty of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm. The death of Terence was remembered by his mother and family annually on March 10th in a memorial insert in the Durban newspapers. The last I saw it was in 2007.
“The Natal Daily News”, probably Natal’s favourite newspaper, changes its masthead to “The Daily News” on Monday 26th March 1962.
The Durban City Council gives approval for flowers to be sold inside the main entrance of Stellawood Cemetery. How many remember the flowers sold on the pavement by Mrs Barbieri outside her home in Stella Road near Stellawood?
The New Nurses’ Home at Addington Hospital under construction is making good progress and will open in 1963.
Mr Izak van Heerden, a master at Durban High School, is chosen as Manager of the Springbok rugby team to play the British Lions in a four match test series. Izak van Heerden as manager/coach of the Natal rugby team was instrumental in raising Natal’s stature as a provincial rugby team.
The Jones Car Tyre and Retreading Company of 60 Pine Street is totally destroyed in a fire.
Dudley Andrews, who played a major role in the development and teaching of ballroom dancing in Durban dies at the age of 53. His dance studio called “Dudley Andrews” was in Kent House, West Street. His wife carried on the studio, many teenagers and young adults learning the intricacies of the quick step, fox trot, waltz, jive and the hot dance of the time, the cha cha.
The Durban Ocean Terminal is opened coinciding with the arrival of the new flagship of the Union Castle Line , the Windsor Castle. Sadly today a white elephant.
The 1962 Comrades Marathon, an up run, is won by John Smith of the UK in 5 hrs 57 mins and 5 secs. Jackie Mekler is second, 7 minutes behind. The race was run on 30th May.
The first 80 families of the Zanzibari Indian Community who lived on the Bluff are moved to Chatsworth. This 600 strong community, the descendants of slaves, were living in an area overlooking Durban off Bluff Road. I have an idea the cemetery was left intact. The Zanzibari community dates back to 1873.
With South Africa now a republic, the Durban City Council decides that the Union Jack will no longer be flown from the flag pole on the City Hall portico. 50 people gather to watch the lowering of the flag for the last time at 5 pm. At the time there was a rash of car bumper stickers proclaiming “Natal – the last Colonial Outpost” which featured the Union Jack.
A South African Airways Skymaster “Lebombo” and a South African Air Force Harvard trainer collide over the Bluff. The Harvard crashes on the Bluff with pilot and co pilot parachuting to safety. The Skymaster is able to land with a severely damaged tail fin.
In April, the Convent School in St. Andrew’s Street closes with the transfer of the school to a totally new facility in Glenmore. The nuns’ convent in Convent Lane, at the back of the Durdoc Centre, was also vacated when the nuns moved to Glenmore.
The Durban July is won by a 16-1 rank outsider called Diza with apprentice Aubrey Roberts up. Second is White Foam, then the favourite Jerez and The Giant ran in fourth.
The second rugby international, South Africa vs. British Lions, is played at Kings Park Durban on July 21st. Keith Oxlee, the Natal fly half kicks a penalty and scores the only points in a hard fought match.
The Twine’s Hotel, corner Gardiner Street and the Esplanade, closes it doors and is due for demolition. The hotel was built in 1902.
Following much local support in a “Save Kingsmead” campaign, restoration of the old grandstand and the wooden stands starts in earnest. Local firms pitch in with contributions of material required.
The Durban Gold Cup horse race is won by a 20-1 outsider, Speciality, ridden by T. Lange. Runners up were New Chief, The Giant and West Point. The favourite Scotfree runs fourth from last. Punters having a bad year!
The Durban firm, Natal Glassworks, 53 Williams Road is gutted by fire.
The Durban – Kwa Mashu train line is opened with an hourly train service.
The Natal Grand Prix is run at the Westmead Race Circuit on 22nd December. The Grand Prix is won by Team Lotus with Trevor Taylor the winner, just edging out Jim Clark. Richie Ginter of Team BRM is third and South African Neville Lederle fourth. A short while after the grand prix, whilst practising for the South African Grand Prix at the Westmead Circuit in Pinetown, Gary Hocking, a Rhodesian motor ace loses control of his Lotus Climax, collides with a tree and is killed.
In my review of 1962, I recorded the passing of Terence Flusk. I came across this in the Sunday Tribune 11/3/2012:
What happened in Durban during 1972?
Demolition begins at an old Durban landmark, Yorkshire House on the corner of Field and Smith Street. The site will become the new headquarters for General Accident Insurance and will accommodate a new multi-storey building. Yorkshire House was cornered between the OK Bazaars in Smith Street and Stuttafords in Field Street.
The Channon Report concerning improving productivity in Municipal Services is tabled before the Durban City Council. Councillor Mrs. Pat Geary strongly urges the Durban City Council to revise the present long winded procedures of present day local municipal government.
A major blaze occurs at the oil refinery at Reunion. The fire breaks out 240 metres from the main refinery installation and clouds of black smoke can be seen all over Durban.
The area below the stage in the Durban City Hall is excavated to accommodate a mechanically elevated section which will increase the stage area. The City Hall floor was also to be replaced. I remember that on completion, there were signs posted outside the entrance doors of the hall stating, “ No stiletto heels are allowed”, these being high fashion at the time.
The French luxury liner, France, pays a rare visit to Durban.
The South African “Book of Life” to replace the green ID cards is introduced.
HUNUC (Habitat University of Natal Underwater Club) is prepared for its submergence off the Durban Coast. Vaughn Stone is one of the “inhabitants” who with others will live in the specially built and designed steel structure. The interior includes a 4 plate stove, landline telephones, a fridge, shower and toilet. Trials are undertaken in Durban Harbour when the “craft” is submerged alongside a wharf. Admiral Johnson of the SA Navy who launches the “craft” is not sure if he is “launching a ship, a submarine or a house”. Four teams of divers and researches will each spend 7 days underwater carrying out observations and experiments. A later entry in the scrapbook. Thousands watched as the underwater habitat HUNUC is towed out to sea in May. Hours later the habitat lay on the sea bed opposite Addington Hospital, a battered wreck!
Durban’s Mayor Mr Goldman starts the 1972 Durban to Johannesburg (DJ) motor cycle rally.
Moira Wood is chosen Rag Queen 1972 with Sue Clarence and Ruanne Louw as princesses.
History of Old Durban, and Reminiscences of an Emigrant of 1850 by George Russell, is reprinted by T.W. Griggs after being out of print for many years. This book was written by Russell at the suggestion of George Christopher Cato, Durban’s first mayor. My late father in law bought a copy then which I have today. An excellent book to have if you are interested in the foundation years of Durban.
Mrs Joan Cashmore, widow of renowned British architect, Mr F. Milton Cashmore, visits Durban and appeals for the preservation of old buildings such as The Marine Hotel, and the Old Mutual Building in Gardiner Street. Mrs Cashmore states, “ The history of Durban may not be long, but it is rich in valour and achievement and it will lose its character if buildings which are vital links between past events and present are pulled down.” The Marine Hotel and the Old Mutual Building are both eventually demolished.
Warrant Officer, Mickey Doo who was the Station Commander of the Cato Manor Police Station during the 1960 riots dies in Krugersdorp at the age of 63. Those who remember the violent riots which claimed the lives of 9 policemen may recall the hordes of Blacks who rampaged down the “old” Berea Road finally being stopped at the Berea Road/ Umbilo Road intersection to prevent them from reaching the CBD. I recall as a senior student at St Henry’s the mobs making their way past the school via Marists Road. The military eventually used the school grounds as a “military base” with a couple of armoured vehicles stationed there.
The first super tanker to make use of Durban’s offshore single buoy mooring, BP / Shell’s British Explorer, discharges 207 000 tons of crude oil.
The Durban – Johannesburg oil pipeline bursts at Bellair and millions of litres of partly refined oil spews into the Bay from the Umbilo Canal. A tight security net is thrown along the entire area as there is a risk of a flash fire. The threat was such that army commandos, city and railway police were called out at night to man roadblocks and to line the entire route of the break to prevent the public from approaching the breach.
Jock Leyden the noted Natal cartoonist celebrates 35 years service with the Daily News.
The 1972 July is won by In Full Flight (5-1 odds) , ridden by Raymond Rhodes and is trained by David Payne, the youngest trainer in the race. Pedlar runs second, King’s Guard third and Angelina fourth. The hot favourite Mazarin at 6-4 runs ninth. David Payne eventually emigrated to Australia.
The Comrades Marathon is “invaded” by a team from English running club, Tipton Harriers who make a clean sweep. The 8 man, Tipton Harriers team make off with the Winner’s Cup as well as the first novice home, Mike Orton, and the Gunga Din Shield for the team. The team consists of Ron Bentley (Captain) Gordon Bentley, Ron Copson, Mike Orton, Bill Carr, George Johnson, John Malpas and Tony Burkett. Second home was Dave Bagshaw who won in 1971, followed by Dave Box. Mike Orton won in a record time of 5 hours 48 minutes 57 seconds for the up run. Unofficial runners amongst others, Christoff Mabiso and Simon Mkhize complete the course for the first time.
Stephanie Reinecke of Durban is chosen as Miss South Africa. She is the seventh Miss South Africa from Natal in the 16 years the competition has been held. Stephanie only makes the final 15 in the Miss World Competition held in London.
The Gold Cup is won by Humdinger ridden by Ron Roberts followed by Free Style and Fleet Owner who dead heated for second with Indian Boy fourth.
Edgar Adeler, the honky-tonk pianist at the Malibu Hotel’s Father’s Moustache celebrates his 78th birthday at the nightspot with a birthday bash.
The worst fire in three years in Durban completely guts the Cinerama Theatre (corner Smith and Aliwal Streets) , previously the 20th Century. The fire also destroys the photographic studio in the same building. Eight fire engines fail to save the building.Share this: