Henwoods

 

Keeping up with my resolution to add something to FAD monthly, this month I am taking a cue from John Taylor’s post about Musgrave Centre. Henwoods will only be a name familiar to those who knew Durban as it was prior to the 1970s as sadly after that the name Henwoods and its familiar logo have since disappeared along with many other old Durban names. I am posting a bit of Henwood’s history again from an excellent book I found in Pietermaritzburg at a second hand outlet. The book is titled Natal Municipal Association 1904-1964 Diamond Jubilee.

My own memories of Henwoods goes back to the mid 50s when Henwoods traded in West Street virtually opposite where Adams Book Store stands today. Adams by the way must be the last relic of the old time stores in Durban and deserves a write up in FAD. Henwoods was if I recall in the 50s a normal department store. It had a very good hardware section as well as a sports goods section. I do not recall it having a grocery or food department but I may be wrong.

The shop did stretch from West Street through to Pine Street and was not multi storeyed. I seem to recall it did not have a very modern frontage and the interior was distinctly old style as were many of the old department stores in those days. Wooden floors, darkish interiors, lots of counters with their attendant assistants. I stand to be corrected but I seem to recall that one side of the shop was actually an arcade called Henwood’s Arcade and this arcade disappeared when the site was redeveloped. Someone can correct me on this.

I am not sure either if Henwoods had the centralised cash collection system where when making payment your money and the invoice were whisked away to a central point via a pneumatic tube system. I recall Greenacres had this as did The HUB and I think Ansteys. I do not think it was in place in Henwoods.

My one distinct memory of Henwoods was buying a pair of Adidas soccer boots there. They were one of the first sports shops in Durban to have what was then a brand new “brand” if the word existed then. The boots, all leather, were imported from Germany and had the distinctive marking of the three stripes which exists still today. They were boxed in a blue cardboard box with the name Adi Dassler, who was the originator. That was about 1958/59.

The reason why Henwoods eventually closed down is unknown. I seem to recall that when the main West Street outlet closed down probably some time in the early 70s, they relocated to other premises outside the CBD. I remember the branch at the Musgrave Centre which also had a branch of Adams Book Store. The Cornish Hen sitting on the log obviously alludes to the surname as well the link to Paul Henwood’s origins in Cornwall England.

Going by the notes in the book Henwoods in 1964 had already notched up 110 years of continuous service. Sadly it is another pioneer name that has disappeared and one wonders what happened to the later generations of Henwoods.

Click on inserts to enlarge.

I have no photos or pictures of Henwood’s as it was in the 50s/60s so if anyone does please email them to Allan Jackson who can add them to this post.

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41 Responses

  1. Allan Jackson
    | Reply

    Hi Gerald
    I was interested to hear you mention Henwoods sports department. I believe that one of the heads of the department was Springbok cricketer Eric Dalton, who was a good friend of my grandparents and sang in their amateur theatrical group. I believe that Eric had played in the famous timeless test in Durban before WWII.
    Cheers
    Allan

    • Allan Hannah
      |

      Hi AllanJ
      I seem to remember that the sports dept. had a full size billiards table and one was able to test out a potential purchase, like a snooker cue, by knocking a few balls around the table!

      In them thar days I was a keen snooker player and had some sneaking thoughts about becoming a South African Joe Davis! So I saved my money and when I had enough I rode to Durban on my trustyiron horse, from Verulam where I lived and parked in front of the West Street entrance to Henwoods! In those days”parked” meant leanthe bike against the pillar next to the pavement!
      In I went, saw Eric Dalton I think, tried out a number of cues, bought one, left via the Pine Street entrance and caught the train home!! All I could think of eas the new cue!!!

      As I arrived home my Dad shouted “pranged your bike, have you?”!

      Cue forgotten, and a hitch hike to Durban to retrieve my bike!

      Regards
      AllanH

    • Garry Shuttleworth
      |

      Allan Hannah? Hannah? Could this AllanH be a long-forgotten cousin? I do remember an Uncle Alec/Alex who had two sons, Allan and Malcolm… Does the Shuttleworth surname, Aunty Doris (McDonald), Harding and Lovedale farm in the Ngele mountains mean anything to you?

      Garry Shuttleworth
      (Now living in Australia)

    • Allan Hannah
      |

      I am he! All the names mentioned by yourself mean much to me and I often think of those days. Lovedale shall always be a favourite place of mine because of the beauty of the farm -and the great times I we all had out there!
      But FAD is not the right place to talk about things like this and I would like to suggest that we chat via e-mail and “fill in the gaps!

      Your Coz

      AllanH

    • Patrick A STEPHENS
      |

      Hello Allan
      Just found the Henwoods history.
      My small contribution is that I used to service all the cash register machines in Henwoods 1956-60 time .
      At the time I was working for Natal Business Machines 33 Parry Road. My servicing area was mainly West Street from the Cathedral end to the Beach front. I also have a photo of West street when it was being upgraded which shows Henwoods but I don’t know how to send it in this reply window.
      Cheers
      Patrick

  2. Ian Jackson
    | Reply

    Henwoods
    I lived in Durban most of my life but know live in Charlottesville Virginia USA.We are friends with a South African who lives in Charlottesville who was a Henwood and was telling me lots of interesting things about the family and the business. I will tell her about this site and you can get it all first hand.
    Ian

    • Gerald Buttigieg
      |

      Hi Ian
      That would be great as one hardly hears of Henwoods these days. Durban is a very much changed city today and my generation probably knew it when it was at its best. But Time moves on so unless one records some of the past, it will sadly recede into oblivion.

    • Ian Jackson
      |

      Hi Gerald
      Left a message on her voice mail but will follow it up.The other day I found a book in my study called Alice in Durban,its a book written to advertize companies and products using Alice in Wonderland characters.It was written by Victor de la Hurst back in 1948.The ads have the phone numbers and PO box eg Henwoods was tel #21516 and PO 3.Talking of telephones my Dad Brian Jackson worked in the Telkom most of his working life and he started when the Durban corporation run the telephones with exchanges in and around Durban with the old exchange on Pine street.Gerald our paths must have crossed at some point because I worked for telkom in Durban from 1968 to 1980.

      http://imgur.com/DS3BD

    • Gerald Buttigieg
      |

      Hi Ian,
      What a small world. Of course I remember your Dad. “Padre Jackson” as he used to be called and I can still recall seeing him outside the Pine Street Exchange building in his white safari suit with white long socks and shoes to boot. He and I both worked under the late Bill Eales who was in control of the local exchanges in Centrex (as the Pine Street complex was called) as well as the Beach Exchange complex which was in SeaView Street. Your Dad if I recall managed the Central 31 exchange and I was in charge of the Beach 37 exchange at that time. Maybe I should do a write up on the Durban telephone network 1960 to 1995. By the way what section did you work in as I cannot recall meeting you but our paths may have crossed.
      That is a very interesting book you have there. Never heard of it and who was Victor de la Hurst. Interesting that Henwoods had PO Box 3 which is indicative that they probably held that Post Office box number since that service was initiated. Natal started issuing stamps in 1857, 14 years after it was annexed as a British Colony. Seeing that Henwoods started trading in 1856, they must have taken up the offer of a Post Office box number as soon as the postal service started in 1857.

    • Ian Jackson
      |

      Hi Gerald
      Thanks for your reply,the author of Alice in Durban Victor de la Hurst was for a number of years in India and Burma with the Indian Army and is an honorary Doctor of literature,Fellow of the Royal geographical Society,author,explorer journalist and broadcaster.
      Yes it is a small world,I did find a best wishes card on my Dads retirement and you are one of the many folks who signed it.I worked in the telex side and we were mostly in the old Post Office.It would be great if you could do an article on the telephone exchange run by the Durban Corporation.
      My brother -in-law who is retired and still lives in Durban worked most of his working life in Town planning and knows all kinds facts about Durban from a planning and progress point of view.His name is Linton Verdon,if you like I can connect you guys.

    • Graham
      |

      I can remember the store and remember visiting it with my Dad who you mention Bill Eales. If I am not confusing it with another store it used to have a Father Christmas in the late 60s….

  3. William Paterson
    | Reply

    Paul Henwood became the General Manager (not absolutely sure of his title) of
    the Chairman’s Fund of Anglo American Corporation. A good man. The Fund handed out considerable untrumpeted largesse to good causes.

    The General Manager of Henwood’s was a Mr Buckle whose famiy lived in Mount Argus Road, Umgeni Heights. Verna Buckle, the daughter was a great beauty and married Bill Cameron.

    • Tania Pereira White
      |

      Paul Grant Henwood was my grandfather. I am sure you know that he had passed away in 1991 and his wife Priscilla is still alive. I hope you can contact me if you need to.

    • Tania Pereira White
      |

      Sorry, me again. scroll down you will find my grandmother Priscilla and her daughter (my aunt) Sarah’s comments.

  4. Derrick Willett
    | Reply

    Indeed there was an Arcade running between the buildings consisting of small businesses’ This included a locksmith and offices on the upper higher levels.
    Like all the Department stores in Durban I seem to remember it having a tearoom. The pine street side was higher than west street. This height difference ws adjusted by s flight of stairs mid way up th shop and a lift to the upper two or three floors. As children we used to go window shopping on saturday evenings and Henwoods front half circular mirror showcase and when you leant into it you saw your reflection going on ad infinitum, Henwoods was very lucky to avoid destructon when the adjacent “London Chambers went up in flames. I have a “Orrefors” jug which I bought at the closing down sale.

    • Desiree
      |

      Beautiful imported porcelain..I remember too

  5. Richard Holmes
    | Reply

    I remember Henwoods well

    They had a cosmetics department and I dated one of the Beauty Consultants there for quite a time in the mid sixties

    I left Durban for the UK in 1999 and have just discovered this site

    Many many memories are flooding back

  6. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    West Street circa 1948/49

    I found this postcard of West Street circa 1948/49. It shows on the left the old Central Hotel with the upstairs Grill Room on the verandah which used to bridge the pavement. Then on the right across West Street look for two signs with the Henwood’s Hen on them. This is the Henwood’s Shop with a clock in the middle. In the distance on the left there is an arched window visible which was part of the old Cuthbert’s Building. There was another building adjoining Cuthberts and that stood on the corner of West and Field Streets. The area beyond Henwood’s has now completely changed with Woolworths, London House,and the new multi storeyed glass structure on this side of the road and what was the Johannesburg Building Society Building on the corner of West and Field on that side. The McFies Chambers and Arcade are not in my memory as this picture would be round about the time we landed in Durban.

    • Desiree
      |

      I recall the decor section of Henwoods store..lovely imported porcelain, lamps and cutlery. I sold my bicycle to buy a Royal Dalton crinoline lady to give my mother for her birthday..one of her delights had been to go through the store from West st to the bus stops which came out in Pine St and look at these goods. And for us children, to stop and see and touch the puppies in Marlton and Hotchkin(sp?) the pet shop windows there.
      A house built in 1896 At 120 Lambert Rd is said to have belonged to the Henwoods. A grand old colonial home, now a very elegant guest house

  7. Rodney
    | Reply

    I also remember the Central Hotel. For some reason my father stayed there for a few days (ca. 1948 -1950) and we met him there and went off elsewhere – to where I have no recollection now. My recollections of the Henwoods store differ slightly from some of the comments above. I seem to recall that in the 1950’s Henwoods was basically a hardware and ‘male’ store , unlike the general departmental stores further up West Street. Then round about 1960 it re-invented as a general department store. To do this I think it expanded somehow. I remember that the modernised store went all the way through to Pine Street, but I don’t think that the Pine Street entrance was open to the public before this. Incidentally, I recall that Payne Brothers also opened their store through to Pine Street about this time. My memories are very likely faulty, but I do seem to recall that on the West Street side that Henwoods incorporated a multi-storey building, all of 3 or 4 storeys high and that it was painted a baby blue. One thing that I am more certain about was that Henwoods operated a branch hardware store at the bottom end of the small shopping centre at the top end of Mackeurtan Avenue, Durban North at this time (late 50’s – early 60’s).
    I now live in Pietermaritzburg where there has for many years been a Henwoods Estate Agency which uses the same logo. I presume that there is some family connection, if no direct business connection.

  8. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Rodney
    Thanks for the additional input. I have looked at the 1968 Durban Directory and it shows that Henwoods at that time had 7 floors which surprised me. All 7 floors had businesses premises on them but in addition the 2nd and 3rd floors had flats or some form of accommodation. The West Street postcard above would then be before the addition of additional floors.
    Your memory of Henwood’s having a branch at Durban North is quite correct. In fact they had several…..one at Musgrave Centre, Crompton Street Pinetown, Mutual Beach Centre Somsteu Rd, Durban North 15 Mackeurtan Ave, and at Glenashley Almil Shopping Centre Newport Ave.

    • Rodney
      |

      Another afterthought – does anyone remember the cafe/milkbar ‘Dagwood’s’ that opened up near Henwoods? I think it was somewhere on the Post Pffice side of Henwoods. An uncle took us there ca. 1957-1958 and I remember enjoying the meal there. If I remember rightly, it had sketches of the Bumsteads (Dagwood and Blondie) on the walls.

    • Desiree
      |

      In Gardiner Street? The Model Dairy? Next to a tobacconist owned by family of cricketer Tich Wesley? We kids used to buy chips at that milk bar to eat in the bus on the way home from Cygnet Swimming Club at the Town Baths nearby!

  9. Sarah Jobling
    | Reply

    I am so excited to read this article and subsequent comments. My maiden name was Henwood, I am a great-great-granddaughter of Paul, as is my sister Jenefer who lives in Charlottesville (see Ian Jackson), and the daughter of Paul, the last MD of Henwoods in Johannesburg. I also have 3 brothers Henwood. My grandfather – Mr Norman of Henwoods West Street, has 3 other living grand children by his daughter, whose husband worked in West Street. My Great-uncle, Mr Edwin, also of West Street, has a son in England, and a son here in Howick, who worked in the accounts department (yes centralized payment with a traveling container) in West Street. Another of my grandfather’s brothers, Howard, was MD in Johannesburg, before my Dad, he has a daughter in Johannesburg and a son in Knysna. There is much to comment on here, but I’m out of time, thank you for raising a subject very dear to my heart.

    • Desiree
      |

      I taught with Pauline Henwoods in the 1960’s at Durban Girls’ College. A tall shy modest lady..who married?(John?) at that time

  10. Priscilla Margaret Henwood
    | Reply

    Paul Henwood married me at a place called Shepreth, near Cambridge, England during the war in August 1942. He was in the Navy and I was in the WAAF. After the war he brought me back to South Africa. We lived in Lambert Road, Durban, close to Norman & Dorothy Henwood, Paul’s parents, they lived in Eastbourne Road. Norman was Chairman of Henwoods at that time.
    So I well remember Henwoods, as someone describles ‘builders hardware department in the basement, on the ground floor wonderful china and kitchen equipment. Henwood’s had the agency of many English firms, like Josiah Parks, Wedgewood, Royal Albert, Moorecroft and many other well known china and kitchen requirements, to the delight of many people in Durban. Especially after the war, Henwood’s was like fairyland!!
    Paul and I moved to the Johannesburg store in Pritchard street in 1947, where Paul worked with Howard, Norman’s brother. Sadly Howard died suddenly but Paul stayed with the store until the Board decided to close the store in 1959.
    The famous logo was ‘You get a good deal at Henwoods”
    My memories of Henwoods are full of interest and peaceful happiness. It was a great sadness to Paul when Henwoods closed in Johannesburg and subsequently in Durban, also Pretoria, Vereeniging and Kimberly! over the years.
    The Henwood in Charlottesville is my beloved daughter Jenefer Garstang. So the world goes round!
    Best wishes from, Priscilla

    • Desiree
      |

      You will be pleased to know that the Lambert Rd home is in very good nick and I am having my 80th birthday party there on 7Dec. With the trees planted so long ago, the views, the good upkeep it is the essence of elegance and I am very grateful for it. Lambert Guest House, 210 Lambert Rd
      There are other houses in disrepair, some being demolished, but this old lady shines
      yet!

  11. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Sarah and Priscilla,
    It was great to have a response from both of you being distant relations of the original Henwood. Sadly Henwoods no longer exists but at least we have recorded a bit of the past history and the association with Durban.

    Jobling is an unusual surname but Sarah are you related to Rev. Rob Jobling who is/was a parish priest at Stanger in KZN and his brother Jim who lives in Texas USA? I had interaction with both of them in a really strange way.

    • Sarah Jobling
      |

      Yes, Gerald – Rob is my husband. We remember the interaction was all around wood-turning tools. It is a small world.
      Sarah

    • Gerald Buttigieg
      |

      Hi Sarah,
      You can say that again … it is a small world.
      Gerald

  12. Carol Henwood
    | Reply

    hello everyone

    I’m researching the family histories for both my Taylor side and my husband Tony’s Henwood side. So I often ‘google’ Henwood to see what comes up. And I’m fascinated by your messages on FAD. Tony is son of Bunny – who was son of Lynton – who was son of Alfred – who was son of the founder Paul Henwood.

    During this cool and windy spring in the UK we have started to digitise the trunk full of photographs we have inherited from Tony’s parents. There are many photos of Alfred and Lynton in South Africa – and the rest of the Henwood and Soutter families. With little notation in the old photo albums we’re struggling to identify the many warm smiling faces and the locations of the street scenes. So I’m really pleased to see all the connections and reminiscing.

    We also have a copy of the booklet “The History of Henwoods – their first one hundred years”, the booklet that includes the photograph of Paul and Mary Jane with their daughter Emily. What a life that must have been. Paul was born in 1828 in Tideford in Cornwall, one of 19 children of James, a millwright, and his wife Rebecca. When times were hard in Cornwall in the mid 19th century he’d taken a chance on a trip to southern Africa. The initial attraction proved false but he could use his skills as maker and mender of machinery until he headed up the chain of stores that you all remember. I suspect that, around the time of the birth of Natal, the people wanted to build fine houses and furnish them in style, hence the variety of stock of the Henwood stores. I guess that the stores were very much of their time and the links between UK and Africa were lessening by the 1950s.

    Did you know of the reunions that took place at Heskyn Mill, the Henwoods’ place in Cornwall? We also have some a few group photos of those reunions.

    Carol

    • John Bland
      |

      Hi,

      We are the new owners of Heskyn Mill, Saltash, Cornwall. Now used as a restaurant and therefore open for many to see.
      We would love to see photos or to read any more history about the history of Heskyn Mill and the Henwoods.
      I have been given the notes of the meeting at the mill in 1996 and the following meeting in 2000.
      We are planning to create a booklet to give to our customers.

      Regards
      John and Ann Bland

    • Claire Carter
      |

      hello
      My great grandmother was Emma Henwood who married Charles Morrison in Durban on 4th December 1886. I would love to find out more about her family as I am researching the family tree. I live in Cambridge UK. Can any of you help me find out more about Emma and her family? Family legend relates that Emma’s mother was the first white baby born in Natal. I have been unable to verify this and suspect it may not be true, but I am curious to find out more…I see John and Paul Henwood are listed among Shelagh Spencer’s early settlers in Natal. Thank you. Claire Carter (nee Moss)

    • Marc Henwood
      |

      Hi carol

      Been doing a little research on my end aswell
      I’m the son of ROY Henwood son of Gerald Henwood son of Norman Henwood the brother of Paul Henwood

      We still live in Durban and have one son Christopher- Robin Henwood

      About ten years ago we purchased the weekend beach home of Paul Henwood in Doonside on the South Coast about 20 km from Durban were we currently reside

      Would be extremely interested in a copy of the book the first 100 years of the Henwoods if at all possible

      Regards
      Marc Henwood

  13. George Henwood
    | Reply

    Hi I am George Henwood from the Swaziland clan of Henwoods .
    I remember taken photos for a Henwood book many years ago with a Paul Henwood.

    I was very young then. My great grandfather and grandfather both had the same name George. I remember hearing a story that he was being chased on horseback through natal by the Boers as he was British and ended up in Swaziland
    If any one has some further insight i would love to hear the story.

  14. Gerald
    | Reply

    Hi Marc
    I do not know of the book 100 years of the Henwoods if it exists. What I posted above was a two page summary of the Henwood family that started the business which appeared in a book commemorating 60 years of the Natal Municipal Association. I posted the whole article.

  15. Roger Henwood
    | Reply

    Hi Marc
    I have a coppy of the booklet 100 years of Henwoods

  16. Hello
    | Reply

    Hello, does anyone remembers the company called Evelyn Haddons and co they were situated in Sydney Road Durban,
    and also a well known company called Hume Pipe Company.

    • Brian Lennox
      |

      hHume pipe co was bought by Barlow Rand in the 1970 but subsequently on sold and tje namd changed

      i worked with a Pam Henwood in 1965 in Durban who i believe was a deacendent

  17. Gerald
    | Reply

    Evelyn Haddons were suppliers to the Printing Trade. I knew someone who worked there in the mid 60s. Hume Pipe if I remember correctly were based in Pinetown and were makers of large concrete pipes and associated concrete products.

  18. Jane boden
    | Reply

    My mother Barbara Crawford worked for Mr Henwood as his personal assistant back in the 60’s.In the school holidays I would sometimes go into work with my mother, my dad did a few odd jobs around Mr Henwoods house but not sure where the house was? We came to live in Somerset England in 1972.
    Mr Henwood gave my parents two small wooden side tables as a present which we had until my mum passed away over two years ago aged 86

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