Diakonia Centre

posted in: InfoRequests 10

I have just picked up a new comment way back in the diary with a request from Hester Joseph who manages the Diakonia Centre and thought I would give give it its own post and hopefully a bit more prominence. She wrote:

My name is Hester Joseph and I work for an organisation called Diakonia Council of Churches. They own the Diakonia Centre which I manage. The Diakonia Centre used to be the Convent High School. St. Andrew’s Street has been renamed Diakonia Avenue after the Diakonia Council of Churches which was started in 1976.

Next year (2014) the building will be celebrating its Centenary. I am looking for old photographs of the area and anything about the Convent High School or the St. Joseph School for boys which was also housed in this building.

I have replied to Hester to the effect she might well try the archive in Old Courthouse Museum in Aliwal Street. Anyone who has information is welcome to contact me or leave a comment below.

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10 Responses

  1. Jo Wallstrom
    | Reply

    Hi I went to Convent High in St Andrews street from 1958 to 1962. I only have one photo which was taken in 1962. I also went to St. Joseph’s in Smith Street. I didn’t know the boys were in St Andrew Street. When I was at St Jospeh’s there were boys until std 1 I think. If you want a copy of the school photo I have let me know. Regards Jo

    • Hester Joseph

      Hi Jo

      Thank you so much! I would love a copy of the school photo you have. Do you still live in Durban? We are planning a centenary celebration of the building next year and one of the ideas is to have a photo exhibition! Please give me your details so that I can make arrangements to collect a copy of the photograph from you. My email address is hester.joseph@diakonia.org.za Also visit our website http://www.diakoniaconferences.co.za Regards Hester

    • Jo Wallstrom

      I live in Newcastle now but will be down the coast to our holiday home at the end of June. Would actually love to see how the old school is looking. I was a cosy small place for a school. I will arrange to come and bring the photo. Regards Jo Wallstrom-Walda

    • Hester Joseph

      Hi Jo

      Are you still planning to visit Durban around this time?Please contact me on 0837994136 to arrange a visit to the Diakonia Centre (previously Convent High).

      Kind regards

    • Kartika

      Hi I went to Convent High in St Andrews street from 1958 to 1962. I only have one photo which was taken in 1962. I also went to St. Joseph’s in Smith Street. I didn’t know the boys were in St Andrew Street. When I was at St Jospeh’s there were boys until std 1 I think. If you want a copy of the shocol photo I have let me know. Regards Jo

  2. Anna Accolla
    | Reply

    Hello Hester,

    I went to St.Joseph’s Convent School from 1965 to 1971 inclusive it was a primary school during those years. I started class one in 1965 and finished off 1971 in Std 5. Boys were in the school up to Std 1. The school was in the present Diakonia Centre main entrance St Andrews Street and the back entrance the play ground St Georges. That entrance no longer exists. I drove past a few years ago and it brought back memories the window above the hall St. Andrews Street side was my Std 5 classroom.

    • Hester Joseph

      Hi Anna
      how lovely to hear from you! Was the school run by the Holy Family Sisters during that time?
      I am not sure whether you still live in Durban, but do visit us when you are next in this part of Durban and come and have coffee with us.

      Kind regards and thanks for sharing that information with us.

      Hester Joseph
      Diakonia Centre Manager

  3. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Hester,
    You ask an interesting question there. ” Was the school, (the new St Joseph’s), run by the Sisters?”. What I know is that the Holy Family Sisters opened their first school in Durban in 1875. This was the St Joseph’s School in Smith Street with the Convent Complex behind it. See my story “Durban’s St Joseph’s Churches” . To augment this school, the Convent in St Andrew’s Street was opened in 1914. Then the St Joseph’s School was closed in the mid 1960s (?) and the site was sold including the Convent complex behind it. The pupils of St Joseph’s were taken up at the St Andrew’s St. Convent. By this time, the new Convent in Glenmore was being built and transfer to the new Convent took place in April 1962. I was not aware that a “new” St Joseph’s School was started at the old Convent premises but obviously as ex pupils have indicated this was so and it appears it carried on until the 1970/80s ? As I understood it, all the Sisters moved up to the new Convent in Glenmore so your question is quite valid, who did run the new St Joseph’s? From the article in the Sunday Tribune 4/1/2014, the Sisters put the St Andrew’s Street Convent up for sale for R700 000 and this was bought by the Ecumenical Centre Trust (aka Diakonia) in early 1983. So did the new St Joseph’s last till the 1980s? Was it run by the Sisters?

    • Mark Billingham

      Hi Gerald,
      St Josephs never closed down in the 60’s but merely moved from their old premises and into the St Andrews St. property when the High school moved out.
      A lot of pupils did transfer to the new Convent High which then started from Class 1 and went through to Matric, especially if they lived on the south side of Durban.
      The Sisters still ran St Josephs and those who worked there commuted daily from their new home in Glenmore. I think that they had a chauffeur to drive them. It was not a great distance.
      I was a pupil at Convent High from 1964 for Class 1 & 2, as Marist Brothers at that stage only started from Std. 1, and I can clearly remember that we were all bussed to St. Josephs on one occasion for a concert or a recital of some kind. Unfortunately I could not tell you when St Josephs did close down.

  4. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Mark,
    Thanks for clearing that up. My wife (an ex Convent girl and who moved up to the new school in 1962) affirms that boys, only Class 1 and 2 were still admitted to the new Convent in Glenmore. What she did not know was that the sisters commuted daily to run St Joseph’s in St Andrew’s Street. She further states that the new Convent had no hall complex when opened so the Matric Dance for 1963 was held in the hall at the old Convent.
    I assume you attended St Henry’s after Class 2. I attended St Henry’s 1954-1961, and recall that there was no Class 1 or 2 as you say. I do recall though that a single storey building was erected on a part of the land which was levelled out of the garden to the right of the driveway leading up to the school. I have a notion these became the Class 1 and 2 classrooms probably in your time. The principal when I left was Brother Ephrem. Not much changed in my time. The new double storey wing with the Science lab had been opened in 1947. The only change was the old sheds and original servants quarters of the original homestead, which were used as changerooms and the storage for the school tractor, were completely revamped. At the time as well funds were still being collected for the proposed swimming pool. My large marble collection was donated to the white elephant stall of an event organised by the parents to raise funds for the pool ! But I am digressing….

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