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posted in: Pictures 54

My informant Derek Austin sent the following picture of the Alexandra Hotel and Smuggler’s Inn. It is not credited but I would be most happy to correct that if anyone knows whose the picture is.

Click to enlarge.

Allan Hannah sent in a school team photo in response to a discussion on a recent diary entry What happened in Durban 50/40 years ago?. The picture includes the famous rugby coach Izak van Heerden and Allan himself. I have added the picture to Allan’s comment on March 22 below the entry.

Some time ago I added a 1950s article on the aviation history of Durban to the site. It goes into quite some detail about the the visit of Albert Kimmerling who performed the first powered flight in South Africa (in East London) and, later, the first in Durban. My informant Coenie Breytenbach recently sent in a picture of Kimmerling’s aircraft in Port Elizabeth. He apparently dicovered it in a box of glass negatives that he bought from the estate of an old photographer. I have added the picture to the article here.

The final item this time is an entry sent in by Bob Gooderson from the Flatland News of February 2001 showing the beach end of West Street before and after the building after the Lonsdale Hotel. The notation on top was made by Robert Gooderson who founded the family’s hotel group and who died in 2005 at the age of 93.

Courtesy Bob Gooderson.
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54 Responses

  1. Bryan
    | Reply

    The Alexander hotel carried the smugglers inn name for years but the original smugglers inn was across the road, harbour side, it had its own customs officer as u could go from a ship into the pub, my uncle had a barber shop close to the Alexander in the fifties, and he did a roaring trade with the sailors from the Union Castle ships.He was French I wonder if anyone remembers him.

    • tony nunes

      Original Smugglers Inn

      Has anyone got photos or articles on the original Smugglers Inn?

  2. Hugh Scott Smith
    | Reply

    My great grandfather was first a clerk then the manager at the Criterion Hotel in Point Road where Smugglers Inn was originally located. This was in the 1880s.

    Does anyone have photos or articles regarding the Criterion or Smugglers Inn from this period or later?

  3. Beth Pettit (nee Holt)
    | Reply

    My father managed the Criterion Hotel in the early 1960’s, I was really young, so do not remember too much.
    I do remember old Mr Wilson, who owned the hotel and very proudly told the story of how his grandfather built the original hotel from the wood of a ship wreck called the Criterion. When Mr Wilson died, he left the hotel to his nephew who promptly sold the land off to the railways. This was the only privately-owned property with it’s own customs gate.
    I fondly remember Mr Wilson as being very kind and taking me and my mother for drives down the south coast in his big blue car (I think it was a Chev). My father moved across to manage the Alexandra Hotel (there was no Smuggler’s Inn then) for a while. I remember my brothers going down the road to the barbers shop mentioned in an earlier post.
    I remember when the ships came in, I used to be sent upstairs to our rooms to be “out of the way of the sailors”.
    The head waiter was a very short Indian man by the name of Matthew, he apparently was a chef before becoming head waiter.

  4. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Beth …. and Bryan (above),
    I looked up the Criterion Hotel in both the 1938 and 1968 Durban directories I have and it appears in both of them. The address is 85 Point Road. It appears on the left hand side of Point Road and was at the very end of it near the Ferry Kiosk and “A” and “B” Shed. The Alexandra was further up at 124 Point Road. At No. 128/130 Point Road was the Alexandra Hairdressing Saloon with a Mr. J Rothstein as proprietor. This from the 1938 Directory. In 1968, 128 Point Road appears to have been a tearoom called Criterion Snack and Tap (?). To be honest I cannot remember the Criterion at all. Do you have any photos of it?

  5. jack moorhead
    | Reply

    I used stop- off at smugglers when i sailed for the Norwegian line Thordahl i was on the
    Thorshope and Thorswave .1970s left the Thorswave to Join The Rhodesian Army
    Rember the bar had coins placed on from the cigarette burns Durban what a time we had

    cheers jack moorhead



  6. Richard Anderson
    | Reply

    A few of us on the Pendennis Castle frequented the place in the 70’s. Had a reputation for brawling but we never saw any trouble. What is it nowadays?

  7. Jerald Rabie
    | Reply

    I remember the original Smugglers Inn
    I can still picture the customs officer standing at the back entrance. It was a problem job because the officer often got drunk.

    | Reply


  9. Keith Titmuss
    | Reply

    Hi Danny, do you remember Essop Ghani and the Rebels. They were a really talented band in 60’s.


      Yes I remember Essop Ganie,he was a Talented Singer—he came from Overport in Durban

      he sang in many Nite Clibs

    • Keith Titmuss

      Hello Danny, I’m so pleased to hear from someone who remembers Essop. He had a wonderful voice and together with his band “The Rebels” had a large following. The singer in our band-Vic Craig- was good friends with Essop. As a result of their friendship we played several gigs with them….at the Smugglers Inn, Stanger, and Tongaat. I remember the lead guitarist who I admired as a great musican was called “Gillie”. (Sorry if the spelling is wrong) In the early ’60’s besides Dickie Loader and the Blue Jeans we ere one of only a few “white” bands who were welcome to play alongside bands such as Essop’s.
      Kind regards,

    • Danny Moodley

      Yes Essop Ganie as a very good singer,He also sang with Jerry Junior,
      They played in niteclubs in around the Pelican,The Himalayas, The Moon Hotel,The Isipingo
      Island Hotel etc,
      Yes Iknew Dicky Loader he used to work for Gallo Recording,He was slightly Limp,had a problem with his leg,But a very good singer,Do you remember Eddie Watts.
      Also Mac Stevens was a great with his Guiter

  10. Frank Beeton
    | Reply

    Keith, did you ever attend the “Indian Rock Band Contests” at the Icedrome? I remember that the Rebels and the Flames were always contenders for the top prize. Kathrees’ Radio used to provide the sound equipment and it was better than that used by some of the overseas touring groups!

  11. Keith Titmuss
    | Reply

    Hi Frank,, yes I did attend two of the band contests at the Icedrome. All the bands were good with some brilliant musicians. Of course the Flames were outstanding. I agree with what you said about Kathrees sound equipment.

  12. Jenny
    | Reply

    Actually, this picture posted, is very place where the Smuggies was in the late 60’s and early 70’s. I don’t know what became of it after 1973, when I stopped going. We used to go there every single Friday and Saturday night and sometimes even in the week. They had great bands and cabaret acts. Entrance was free for girls. The entrance was not on Point Road though, but up the road next to it, and turn left at the corner. So Bryan is talking about a much earlier time, like he said – the 50’s.

  13. Donald
    | Reply

    I used to go to Smugglers when I was 17,living in a bachelor flat on the esplanade.I used to walk there most nights (or Fathers Moustache),afterwards I would catch a lift back in an off duty taxi as their base was under my flats.One of the best bands I have ever seen played there then,they were called ‘Triad’ but I cannot find any info on them.Does any one else remember them.

  14. Mike
    | Reply

    Donald, The only reference I can find to Triad…….maybe after your time though!:

    Born and raised in the Kwazulu Natal Midlands in South Africa, singer songwriter Jason Hartman’s love for music was evident from a very young age. In his teens, Jason and his brother Scott joined their father and formed a 3pieced band out of pure necessity to survive. They spent a decade together performing at various venues and corporate functions earning their keep through their mindblowing performances. Jason then broke away and moved to Johannesburg where he began busking for a living. Soon after this, he put together a 2 pieced duo called Justus, which won the Duo Competition at Tanz Café in Bryanston. This was the beginning of a successful career in the South African music industry.

    Jason Hartman – Idols winner – 2009 – hails from KwaZulu Natal but moved to Jozi where he presently resides. He is one of the founding directors of Men of the Trees, an International Society of the Planting and protection of Trees and also creates sustainable food gardens.

    Jason Hartman has played and entertained for over the past ten years both nationally and internationally. He started his career back in 1996 playing in a young three-piece rock band called Triad. The band played in and around KwaZulu Natal focusing mostly on rock classics.

  15. Anton Kelly
    | Reply

    I was a student at the Technicon 1976 – 80. Our sculpture lecturer used to take us, a small group of students, out every now and then. We used to go to Smugglers for happy hour, then across the harbour to the Ferry Inn, then back with the last ferry, and then up the dives in Point Road. Completely smashed by then. Great fun.

    A friend of mine played in a band at Smugglers a few times. I went there on a Saturday morning to help move some gear. It was septic inside, I mean, really bad.

    Any idea how long the ferry and the Ferry Inn lasted?

    | Reply

    The Smugglers was frequented by the Sailors, The band that played their was the Footsteps, and they played all the time.It was in Point Road, not far from the Harbour,Later a Nite Club called the Trawlers was operating in the Harbour.
    it was the good old days.IT WAS A HAVEN FOR THE SAILORS,

  17. Lynette Brown nee Shires
    | Reply

    My dad help to manage the Smugglers Inn in the early sixties. Do you know how I would get more informations about this time. I will share a few stories with you shortly after I talk to my sister and dad some-more.

    • Allan Jackson

      Hi Lynette
      Thanks for the interesting comments. I’m thinking of setting up a page for Smugglers if we can get enough information and hopefully a picture or two. Contact me at the address on the Contact page and I’ll be very happy to publish anything your father can come up with. Cheers, Allan

  18. Danny Moodkey
    | Reply

    Hi Lynette

    The Smugglers Inn was in Point Road,and in the beginning it used to cater for the Seamen from the Durban Harbour
    it used to be next to St.James Hotel another welknown and busy Hotel
    The Resident Band that performed was known as the Footsteps,and the name of the Singer was Nikki Cassim
    thereafter it became a many of the Durnabites and always ended in the early hours of the morning.

  19. Lynette Shires
    | Reply

    Hello Danny,
    thankyou for your quick response.
    Dad opened the Smugglers with S.K. although S.K. was a silent partner on the paperwork. You may know the building had been abandoned for many years before it was opened as the Smugglers and the squatter who had been living there was given a job on the back door handing out tickets and dad still remembers him with great fondness.
    My dad was an ex-mounted policeman before then, had moved onto owning and managing two big catering businesses.
    When dad and S.K. went to look at the building for the Smugglers neither of them owned a car so had to leg it down to the building.
    Dad met many famous and interesting people there due to that the Smugglers was ahead of its time ignoring the legislations regarding apartheid; one customers dad recalls with respect was Winnie Mandela.
    Dad has lots of great stories about the Smugglers which he still views as a pub which was ahead of its time.

  20. Lynette
    | Reply

    Hi Danny,
    yes, opening a page on the Smugglers Inn is a good idea.
    The Smugglers inn was open 24 hours a day so there would be alot of great stories.
    Some informations I could give you may, at times, be sensitive so if you can look over it and edited it before it is published I would appreciate it.
    This is why I have only given you the initials of the dads partner as he is a very rich and powerful man now and has never offered his involvement in the Smugglers in his biographies on wiki etc.
    I can offer abit of informations on the Smugglers if I get the go ahead by dad who I will need to speak to more about this.
    My dad is in ill health so I can only talk to him about this for short periods of time.
    Best wishes from Lynette

  21. Danny Moodley
    | Reply

    Hi Lynette
    those were the good old days,Yes Smugglers Inn cross the apartheid system,many top non-white singers
    were performing their,One was Eddie Watts and many more. the Guiterist of the Footsteps was
    Mac Stevens.They were opened up to early hours of the morning. It was not far from the Customs Gate.

    | Reply

    Hi Lynette
    Its a good idea—please don’t pressure you Dad—we can take it one day at a time—-I do know the about
    the sensitive happenings then—it was with the Band and someone —–but we don’t have to go there.
    Also it will be a good idea to start the Smugglers again—-I can get it registered.
    Thanks and take care

  23. Lynette
    | Reply

    Yes it’s a good idea to start a page on the smugglers as it does sound like there are lots of great stories from there. There are some original advertisement on the net through the Google search engine from the smugglers which are worth looking up. Dad confirmed that they are genuine and from the hotel and remembers them being printed. Have you seen these?

  24. Lynette
    | Reply

    Thanks Danny, for that info. Dad says that they had to change to coloured bands because the white bands were getting too drunk. The bands really took off. On the second floor where the bands played and the people danced dad was always concerned the floor would collapse due to all the movement of the floor boards which could be seen and felt from the first floor.

  25. Danny Moodley
    | Reply

    Hi Lynette
    In those days the wooden Floors were strong.The Smugglers Inn was always talked about during the 70s.
    You should start writing a book by start collecting raw materials such as paper cuttings and photos.
    as well as looking for the old folfs.
    You should also think about starting a Small Restaurant,nearby the Point,its just a suggestion
    take care.

  26. Lynette
    | Reply

    Hi Danny. I hope you are well. Yes, I understand what you mean about the wood floors, wood was seasoned well back then as I understand it. Do you know the actual date of when the smugglers was running. I only have one memory of the smugglers when I was very young which involves being woken up by S.K (I think) looking up at the paper lampshades and red satin pillows then being carried down the stairs. I no longer live in South Africa so getting information is difficult. When I was running my business I met many people from South Africa and they told me some horror stories from living there in as much as there is still alot of unrest.

  27. Danny Moodley
    | Reply

    Hi Lynette,South Africa is not what people from other countries think it is.
    we are an emerging country,the days of unrest was during the 80s,South Africa is now a Democratic country
    and a very good Tourist Destination.There may be some Workers Strike, at random,which is legal.
    Its a lovely country to visit.Go to your local Ambasssdor and check wjth them.the days of apartheid is over.
    which country are you in now?
    take care,

  28. Lynette
    | Reply

    Hi Danny, I hope you are well.
    This is good news to hear this. I met a few South Africans when I had the bookshop and they told me stories about the unsafe South Africa. I am glad to hear this is no longer true. I am living in South Australia. I was born in Durban. I have heard alot of positive news events recently on Africa which has been regarding new and innovative fashion designers and food products. I am finding it very difficult finding out information on Africa on the internet. That’s why you’re website is great.

  29. Danny Moodley
    | Reply

    Hi Lynette
    I sent you a mail,not sure if you received.because now we are having load shedding
    any way I will repeat.
    South Africa is a Big Tourist destination.and we are doing very well economically,and we have people immigraging
    to invest here.You should come and try it out.I can also get your business Registered,You should get in touch with the S.A. Embassy there in Australia.If you have a problem with that ,then let me know.
    because they are there to Promote our country.Where in Durbs did you live.DO YOU STILL HAVE PEOPLE HERE.Hows your Dad ..take care of him.

  30. Lynette
    | Reply

    Hello Danny, I hope you are well. Thank you for the information. That’s good to hear and thanks for the info. Where are you located. Do you know when the Smugglers closed? Dad went on to help manage the Beverly Hills Hotel. I had a look at the smugglers on Google earth. The exit sign is still there above the back door, that’s surprising it is still there after all these years. Danny you most likely know there was a ground floor, a first floor and a second floor. I understand the ground floor was the bar and they used to serve food. The first floor was were the bands played. The second floor was a brothel. Not much left but it was a big place. What do you know about when the building fell into disuse.
    Have a lovely day.
    Best wishes from Lynette

  31. Lynette
    | Reply

    P.s. Danny did you manage to track down the advertisement for the smugglers at the Vamp furniture Blog that’s interesting.

  32. Danny Moodley
    | Reply

    Hi Lynette I am now living in Durban North,called Glenashley, its about 5 kilos from Umhlanga.
    I have seen the Building–which is now Dilapidated,and broken down probably closed during the 80s
    but not very sure.Yes it was frequented by prosties ,you will be surprised that the Point Police was not far off.I was told that some of the off duty police officers frequented that place.
    The Beverley Hills was owned by Sol Kezner,A great Big Hotelier.

  33. Lynette
    | Reply

    Hello Danny,
    I hope you are well.
    I am glad to hear the you still live close to Durban.
    Are still thinking of starting up a page on the Smugglers?
    Are you able to go and take some closer pictures of the Smugglers if you did this?.
    I have seen the Smugglers on Google earth but I would love to actually get the size of the Inn and also closer pictures of what is left.
    I notice that there are alot of dilapitated building along the same road as the Smugglers.
    Do they have a historic society that restores buildings over there.
    Best wishes from Lynette

  34. Lynette
    | Reply

    Hello Danny,
    Whoops, I forgot to ask you,
    What would be the best website to access newpapers and informations as I am happy to do research and get thing confirmed with Dad.
    Best wishes from Lynette

  35. Danny Moodley
    | Reply

    Hi Lynette
    I will have to find out and come back to you
    What I know is that every news paper has its own achives

  36. Danny Moodley
    | Reply

    Hi Lynette
    I lost your last mail for this morning,I pressed the wrong key
    please resend.
    have a nice day

  37. Lynette
    | Reply

    Hi Danny,
    Are you interested in doing a page on the Smugglers,,?
    Best wishes Lynette

  38. Lynette Shires
    | Reply

    Hi Danny, I hope you are well. Because Dad was x Police he most likely knew alot of the Police from working with them. You most likely have heard and I can confirm that it had become normal practice for regular payoffs to keep the peace and keep the smugglers running smoothly.
    Best wishes from Lynette

    • Danny Moodley

      Hi Lynette
      there is a Smugglers Inn, in Waterville,Ireland

      ,the weather here in Durbs is Fine and Hot
      Have a nice day

  39. Danny Moodley
    | Reply

    Hi Lynette
    Sorry I am not in the position to start this.As I would have very limited knowledge on this,although
    I research on various other Historical items

  40. Lynette
    | Reply

    Hi Danny,
    Thank you for letting me know.
    Best wishes from Lynette

  41. Danny
    | Reply

    Hi Lynette
    Please don’t. Get. Me. Wrong. I. Am. Here. To. Communicate. And. Assist u so. Let us not drop. This subject.. We can communicate. Hg

  42. Graham Campbell
    | Reply

    I and a buddy, were reminiscing and can’t remember the family that ran Smuggies. Carols bar was named after her

  43. Lynette
    | Reply

    Hello, The Smugglers was started by Sol Kersner and John Shires. This was the three storey building. John and Sol did not have a car between them when they went to look at the building, so they legged it after John Shires had been told about this building. John Shires had some catering businesses at the time and been told about the building. The old fellow that was squatting in the building was given the job at the back door handing out tickets of admittance. John Shires remembers him with great fondness. Liquor was bought from the building next door to get around having a liquor licence which later took the Smugglers name.

  44. lynette shires
    | Reply

    It isn’t mentioned on the internet so it may not be a well known fact that the ‘Smugglers’ was a magnet to many celebrities in the 1960’s which included the Mandellas, the Adamsons (born free) and many more. The first floor was a bar, the second floor a club (with live bands) and the third floor a brothel. The Smugglers also used the income to donated to many charities such as the local school.

  45. Rocky van Eyssen
    | Reply

    I remember from the 1990s a Grant Greave?, who went to school at Durban High School, was a member of the family that owned it

  46. Graham Campbell
    | Reply

    Thanks Rocky, that did jog my memory. Was Carol his mum?

  47. Rocky van Eyssen
    | Reply

    I never met Carol, but I remember ‘Carol’s Bar’. I went there in 1979, with Robbie Burns (he played soccer for Durban City and Virginia United), and met Lionel Houseman and ended up rowing for Umhlanga Rocks Lifesavers. I met Grant 5 years later, when a Standard Bank (bank manager was also Durban High School) lunch ended at 16.00 and we went to Smugglers, but this time we went upstairs

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