Reader Allan Banfield has written in with his memories of the miniature steam train which used to operate on the Beachfront and, in particular, throws some light on what happened to the steam engine and train. He also asks for some information:
I relocated from Durban to Cape Town in 1975 and then subsequently to the UK in 1988. I have managed a number of return visits to Durban and have followed the changes with great interest.
As an architect, I think the current master plan is excellent – removing the cars and turning the immediate access into a pedestrian promenade on both The Upper and Lower Marine Parades. Once the final gap to the Umgeni Mouth and Blue Lagoon is complete, it will be a most impressive facility.
Could you help with some background information please?
What is the name of the sunken gardens / amphitheater near North Beach?
Whenever we visited with my parents up to the 70s, my Dad never failed to remind us that the gardens were built during the Great Depression years c1927/29. This was a relief work project initiated by the city council / state to provide work and income for the unemployed. He told us that white lawyers were wielding picks and shovels and pushing wheel barrows during the construction in order to put bread on the table for their families.
I have a few other stories about the beach which I will save for another e-mail.
Thanks for your site. You are performing a great nostalgia service for ex-Durbanites now living in many other parts of the world. It really is a super walk down memory lane reminding me of some great times back in the 60s and 70s.
I have always referred to them as the sunken gardens and amphitheater but would not be surprised to hear they have formal names. I have added Allan’s story to the bottom of the miniature trains page, originally started by Gerald Buttigieg.Share this: