Cinemas and stuff

posted in: Mini Memories 26

My informant Pat Sligo has chimed in with a couple of things lately. He provided some missing info on the cinemas page and I managed to find a picture of the Prince’s Theatre and Playhouse, which had been  missing from the page.

Pat also sent in the following short memories:

Thanks for all your effort in putting these old stories together.

I am so glad I was living in Durban as a youngster as there was always something to do. My two old school friends and I regularly cycled down to the docks and looked at the ships – I remember a submarine in the dry dock being dismantled – I think it was the Italian sub that surrendered to the Durban authorities at the end of the war – and a Barracuda torpedo bomber being catapulted off the deck of a Brit aircraft carrier as it was leaving harbour in between the South & North piers – a very noisy event – and if you were bored, then go and have a swim at either of the two beautiful beaches we had – and it didn’t cost a cent!!  We were always on our bikes somewhere every weekend – must have ridden hundreds of miles.

Do you remember a photographer – Stanley Jee from Lynn Acutt – being sucked out of the rear seat of a Harvard aircraft whilst photographing a Harvard flypast event in the late 40’s or early 50s. He had undone the safety harness to be able to move around better in the rear cockpit and ended up on the end of a parachute (fortunately by regulations he had to wear the para.) and landed in the sea near South Beach, where a lifesaver on a ski boat picked him up, just in time, as he was entangled with the parachute canopy lines and in danger of being drowned – never mind the sharks about – and he lost a very expensive Speed Graphic camera in the event. I knew him well as a Kodak customer of ours, and he took our wedding pics in 1954.

I will try and find a pic I took of the horse-drawn ice cream cart standing outside of the Metro cinema one night awaiting interval. Do you remember the stampede there used to be to get to the cart and eat an Eskimo Pie, a Twistee or an ice cream cone before going back inside?
Cheers Pat.

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26 Responses

  1. Allan Hannah
    | Reply

    Hi AllanJ

    Having just read the pieces sent in by Jenny Pache, Pat Sligo and Gerald I think that the “famous nightclub” referred to by Jenny could be The Supper Club which was situated in the Mayfair Hotel and was on the 1st floor, I think! It was there, I think, that I heard Cornelia sing her song Little Pebbles accompanied by Eduardo Jaime who was resident pianist and a player of note!

    If you look at the pics sent in by Gerald, one has a chopped of sign “xxxFAIR” and this, I believe, was the vertical sign for the Mayfair Hotel! Entrance to the foyer, the Ladies Bar and the Supper Club was to the side, down the little street , Alabany Grove. The Supper Club was housed on the 1st floor and there was was a set of plush carpeted stairs to the right of the foyer, just for the use of the Supper Club patrons.

    Just by the way, the antique shop referred to to by yourself in one of the comments was run and owned by Brigadier Howarth and was called Antiques & Bygones, I think! As Gerald comments, the shop ended up in the church and it was then run by Nick Howarth, the Brigadier’s son.

    Just another by the way, has the Al Fresco and Dickie Loader and the Blue Jeans been mentioned before?

    Best Wishes
    AllanH

    • Allan Jackson
      |

      Hi AllanH
      Thanks for the comments. Now that you mention it, I do remember that the Brigadier’s name was Howarth. I’ll have to defer to others on whether the Supper Club is correct or not because I don’t think I ever went into the Mayfair.
      Dickie Loader has been mentioned a good few times here and there on the site (I just entered ‘Loader’ into the Search feature) but there isn’t a separate page for him and the group, Maybe one day…
      Cheers
      Allan

  2. claudette
    | Reply

    Allen please can you help me ,Im trying to get the name of the hotel that was in West Street just before the Chix furniture store across was Beare Bros furntiure shop,I have been phoning my family in Durban , from Canada ,they remember the hotel but not the name maybe you will remember it,

  3. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Claudette
    Now there is a poser. In the early 50s I used to pass by that area on my way to the Emmanuel Cathedral on Sundays. I recall that starting on the intersection of West, Russell and Cathedral Road, on the left going towards the Berea was a men’s outfitters which had a diagonal road at the back of it leading to Smith Street. Then there may have been a couple of shops next to the outfitters, followed by the entrance to Chix Mansions with the Chix Furniture Store below. The Chix building had several floors all with Victorian broekie lace on the verandahs facing Wets Street and is still intact. I seem to recall the Beare Group now have the whole building as their headquarters. Then still going towards Berea Road there was that little hotel with a very unassuming front that Claudette is querying and if I recall it was what was called a residential hotel. For the love of me I cannot remember the name but I seem to remember the hotel closed and the ground floor was converted into a Natal Building Society branch. There were other shops beyond this till you got to Park Street which was a through road between West and Smith and carried on down to Albert Park. In Park Street was the old Jewish Synagogue. On the other side of Park was a bicycle shop and then a funeral parlour which had an angel figure plastered on the wall outside. I think it was C Wilson Davey. Then Adlam Reid another funeral parlour was also in this area. Then you crossed over the railway lines with Berea Road Station below and came up to the Tech Students Union Building, the Old Tech itself and across Warwick Avenue to the Louis Botha Gardens. Coming down the other way opposite the Gardens was the Alhambra on the corner, across Warwick, the Municipal Market which was set back from West Street, then some small shops one of which was Jimmy Green Furnishers, then a municipal building where you could pay your electricity , Berea Road Station below, then Doves Funeral Parlour which is or was turned into a furniture store called Savells, then carrying on were some more shops with one an electrical appliance store and electricians called AA Savage and Son, then the old Royal Theatre opposite Park Street, then Beares Furniture shop and then one came to a skinny building which faced West but behind it ran Theatre Lane.
    Theatre Lane ran you down to the old African Market which was burnt down. Then you came to the West Street Cemetery with the main gates facing West Street, and roughly opposite Chix. All this does not give me the name of the hotel but I will work on it. Hope this recalls the area for you at least.

    • Peter
      |

      It may have been the Hotel Sonna, or Sonna Hotel if I can remember
      as that hotel was in the area.

    • claudette
      |

      Peter it was the Masonic Hotel,enjoyed reading your story,I sure went down Memory Land then,thankyou

    • Peter
      |

      Hi Claudette, thanks, yes I also remember the
      Masonic Hotel, and there was another hotel in Lancers Road, the Normandy I think ?, just can’t remember it and I should, as my dad was fond of visiting the pub downstairs. Do you remember Grand Tea Room in Berea Road, and Mariposa Book Bazaar, I used to get my weekly supply of Beano, Dandy, Knockout and Schoolfriend for my sister from there. Grand Tea Room served the most delicious pies and milkshakes.

    • Gerald Buttigieg
      |

      Hi Claudette and Peter,
      The Masonic Hotel existed in 1938 and the address is given as 551 West Street. In 1968 it is still listed as being in operation on the same premises. I cannot recall when the Masonic closed down but I am sure it became an NBS branch office. The Sonna Hotel is listed as 570 West Street in 1968 but in 1938, this street address is given as Theatre Buffet Bar adjacent to the Theatre Royal. So the Masonic and Sonna Hotels were on opposite sides of West Street. with the Masonic Hotel being closer to Chix Furnishers as Claudette mentions in her initial query.
      But… checking 570 West Street in 1968, this address is allocated to Port Natal Furnishers.
      Cross checking the directory for Port Natal Furnishers, the address is given as 570 West Street. So where does the Sonna Hotel come
      in with the same address? I have heard of it but cannot place it and I cannot a recall a hotel amongst all the furniture shops which filled the area past the West Street cemetery going towards the Berea. Anybody driving by 570 West Street?

    • claudette
      |

      Hi Peter,
      Wow just the other day we were trying to think of the name of the book shop,yes I always had to go and pick up the School Friends book for my sister,Yes the grand tea room had good milkshakes,also in Berea Road was a mens home think it was the Salvation Army,and further up were tennis courts,The normady hotel was my dads,favourite place every nite for 1 beer,and a guy used to sit outside selling samoosa’s chili bites,and peanuts in newpaper which was shaped like a an ice cream cone

    • claudette
      |

      Hi Peter
      Go on google maps and type in West Street Durban,click on and just work around till you get to the beginning of West Street,you will see the building which was once the Masonic I was shocked when I saw it, and then you will also see Chix,

    • Gail Cooper
      |

      Hi Claudette,
      I just recieved an email from my sister, reason being she knows I’m researching Durban in the 60’s as we lived there for a short time……..anyway… She is in the process of packing for a move and came across an Old ‘autograph’ book of hers, that has our address listed as: Masonic Hotel West Street Durban 🙂

    • claudette
      |

      Hi Gerald
      do you remember the Chinese shop down by Wilson’ Funeral Parlour you also mentioned the building where one paid the electrical bill,you know the man that was at the counter he was always so polite .well when I was back in S.A. in 2007 ,I was in Moore Road at Buxtons and I saw him,I actually approached him,he could not belive that I had recognised him still ,he looked the same ,his hair was snow white, he must be in his 80’s,and was still wearing his safari suit,

    • Gerald Buttigieg
      |

      Hi Claudette,
      Cannot remember a Chinese shop next to Wilson Davey and C Dunham to give the funeral firm its full name. By 1968, its admin office remained at 579 West St. whilst the funeral parlour had moved to the corner of Brand and Clark Roads. What I remember of the area going back to the 60s is that you had Park St. coming into West St. on the LHS facing the Berea. On the one corner was a bicycle shop, Peerless Trading, then Park St., a furniture shop called Barnetts on the other corner, and then Wilson Davey. I cannot remember there being any Chinese shops there per se at that time. The only Chinese that quickly comes to mind was the Phoenix Restaurant in Point Rd owned by the Fontbin family and later the Tong Lok Restaurant owned by the Ma family in the old Lucey’s Hotel cnr Smith St and Point Rd. This building was totally derelict when I last saw it.

    • claudette
      |

      Hi Gerald,Yes I remember the funeral shop moved to Brand and Clarke as I would pass it in going down to the shopping centre across the road from there,Yes the chinese shop was there,as I bought my dress and ornaments from there which I still have,I will try and get in touch with my friend as she to bought from there,Yes we often went into Peerless as my brother used to go in for his bike,do you remember going down Berea Road just over Lancers ,was Perks,then a butcher and a few other little shops,one was a Barber shop and Hairdresser ,I think the other was Singer sewing machines,also a bike shop then an arcade then a Pet shop just before the Alhambra ,when in 2007 I see the Pet shop was still there,I was sad to see how from the top of Berea Shops going down to West streets,how is has gone down,

  4. Maurice Warren
    | Reply

    Would love to get a picture of the old Smugglers Inn on Point Road.

    • Allan Hannah
      |

      Hi Maurice
      Smugglers!
      Do you recall ever watching John Rothman at Smuggies! I think he went on to JHB and danced at a well-known venue just outside the city?
      I remember the fantastic steaks they served there and the Castle beers that you ordered in “quart size” as there was “no service” during the “show” and all of us beer drinkers were terrified of running out of booze before the show finished!
      Ah yes, those were fun filled days!! I recall that most of us tried to get as far back from the stage as possible – just in case we were hijacked on to the boards to become part of the show!
      Lunch time on Fridays seem to ring a particular loud bell with me!! Perhaps you recall some of the “action” that went down at Smuggies!!
      Regards
      AllanH

    • Allan Hannah
      |

      Hi Maurice
      For your interest. Try this site-

      http://www.panoramio.com/photo/9413888

      Regards
      AllanH

    • Peter
      |

      I remember watching John Rothman dancing at the Diamond Horshoe nightclub in Johannesburg around 1967 or so when I worked there as a part-time waiter in my matric year.

  5. Moira Badstubner (nee Williams)
    | Reply

    Between 1946/1953 my sister and I used to walk alone to the Emmanuel Cathedral from Davenport Road to attend Mass because going by bus would have made us late!!! I would have been 10 and my sister Denise was 8 . We would walk different routes and no one would interfere. We even walked through the cemetery!!!
    We would catch the bus home afterwards at the covered bus stop outside the furniture shop.

  6. Jane Helms
    | Reply

    Does anyone remember the Wholesale companies – my late mother worked at both of them the first being Marshalls (I remember the location but not the street name) and then later at Mosal Gevisser (excuse spelling) on Maydon Wharf . I worked at Gevissers as a teenager on a Saturday morning?

    • Moira Badstubner (nee Williams)
      |

      Moosa’s sold wool at a large ware house in Maydon Wharf.

  7. claudette
    | Reply

    HI Jane
    There was a M.Bloch and Company ,they were in Pine Street right next to the old Payne Bros which then became The Game,I hope that helps you

  8. Moira Badstubner (nee Williams)
    | Reply

    I have just remembered the name of the organist who played the organ which came up under the platform in front of the screen…”Tommy McLellan”.
    The audience used to sing the words with a ball jumping over the words at the Metro cinema. We always had a comedy, a travel film, a newsreel and “the next attraction”
    before interval and then the main film after the interval.

    • claudette
      |

      Yes those were the good times,I can still hear it all,

  9. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Marshalls went by the name Marshall’s Industrials and was located on the corner of Prince Alfred and Hunter Streets. Moshal, Gevisser were at 173 Maydon Road Maydon Wharf. Both those firms carried a large range of product but being wholesalers they were not accessible to the general public unless you had “access”. The Durban Corporation staff, Buying Clubs and some associations had access by means of “Buying Club Cards”. As Claudette said M. Bloch’s was another wholesaler and they use to have a good range of ornamental glass goods. The other one I recall was Greatrex in Prior Road which was off Ordnance Road. I doubt whether any of these firms are still in business today.

  10. claudette
    | Reply

    I used to go into Marshalls often,I also worked for M.Bloch then went to Bells which was in Hunter street as well then moved to Williams Road then to Sydney Road,
    There was also Irish linen in Gale Street and Canada Road,not sure of the new names as I live in Canada ;

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