Who owned the Bentley?

This picture of Bentleys taken off another site I visit, reminded me of a similar Bentley (the big one in the middle of the picture)  that used to be parked in upper West Street outside what was then Adlam Reid Funeral Directors, 584 West Street.  I am talking here of 1955 to 1958. Every Sunday on the way to Mass at the Cathedral, my sister and I used to walk past the car  in what was known as the “dead end” of town with the West Street Cemetery being the “dead centre”.  On the opposite side of West Street was Wilson, Davey and C. Dunham also funeral directors. I seem to recall Dove and Sons were not far away either.   The Bentley,  a big green open land tourer complete with straps across the bonnet used to be parked there very Sunday and I assume it resided there. It used to have a black cover protecting the seats and the interior. It had the same very large headlamps and at the base of the radiator was what I think was some sort of supercharger unit.  With no parking meters to worry about it probably just stood there. It had plenty of chrome and stood out quite distinctly.    Does anyone remember this car and any idea who owned it. I wonder what happened to what today must be, a collector’s item.

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17 Responses

  1. Frank Beeton
    | Reply

    This is stretching the memory a bit! Back in the 1970’s I worked with John Peate, who was well known in Natal motor sporting circles. One of these old Le Mans Bentleys was still running around Durban at the time, and I think that he told me the owner was Keith Phipps, who ran a garage in one of the small back streets behind the Marine Parade. The French called these Bentleys “the fastest lorries in the world” and they certainly sounded like lorries, with their crash gearboxes that required very skilful handling, and huge 4-cylinder engines. This may not answer the question about who the owner was in the 1950’s, but it may have been the same car.

  2. Gerald Buttigieg
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    Hi Frank,
    Thanks for that but as you say, not a definitive answer. I never saw it anywhere else but parked down West Street. It would be close to a hundred years old now if it still existed.
    Just one of the faded memories I recall.

  3. Gerald Buttigieg
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    Is this the missing Bentley? Photo 13 in Hannes Smith’s Holiday memories shows what looks like a Bentley being driven down Lower Marine Parade. Painted a strange colour WHITE and with narrower tyres could it be the old Bentley I mention above? Pity the radiator end was cut off in the photo.

  4. Joe van der Merwe
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    Who owned the Bentley? To the best of my knowledge it was owned by a gentleman named Cyril Shandley and if I’m correct, he was an undertaker. At one stage we lived in Manning Road between Clark and Moore and I often saw the Bentley travelling up Berea Road. It was reputed to have towed a broken down bus up Berea Road.

  5. Gerald Buttigieg
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    That is interesting Joe as my note from 2013 was never really answered. I only ever saw it parked in upper West St were all the funeral parlours were. Doves, Wilson, Davey & Dunham, Adlam Reid. So the undertaker part fits. What year are you talking of because I am talking 1955 to 1958 roughly?

    • Joe van der Merwe
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      Hi Gerald. It was in the early 50’s when I was still at school. Could have been a year or two later. My late brother in law, owned a 1928 Sunbeam Talbot and a 1933 Alfa Romeo GT. He was acquainted with Cyril Shandley and he related the story that Cyril had helped a bus owner and towed the broken down bus. My brother in law started courting my sister in 1953. Prior to that, we had lived in Manning Road and the Bentley was a fairly common sight in Berea Road, usually traveling at pace, I should add.
      I must say, I really enjoy reading about Durban in days gone by. It brings back happy memories. The smell of Ellis Brown roasting coffee near the cathedral, Bakers Ltd baking biscuits on the corner of West Street near the beachfront, the different bread bakeries. Even the shelters that were built in Gardiner Street to protect the queuing passengers from the bombs dropped by the Indian Mynahs roosting in the trees next to the Old Post Office. Durban had a distinctive character of its own.

  6. Gerald Buttigieg
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    Hi Joe,
    There is a lot to read about old Durban on FAD and I have contributed quite a bit. This site at the moment goes in spurts. Weeks go by with no one commenting and then all of a sudden people chime in. I recall all your memories you mentioned especially the smell of coffee around Ellis Brown in Cathedral Rd. One day all these memories will be just words written down and read by people who will probably remark” I never Durban like that”.

  7. Alan Young
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    Hi Gerald, must say your posts have evoked many memories for me. I was born in Durban in 1933 and educated at Windsor Park Primary School [Which is now a provincial licencing office] and Glenwood High. I have fond memories of Cyril Shandley’s Bentley as I was working as a apprentice draughtsman in 1952 in the Old Mill building at the west end of West Street and the Bentley was parked outside our building each morning. At about 9.00 am Mr Shandley would arrive, from where I know not, get in the vehicle and start it.
    Our building would reverberate from the massive exhaust on the car and he would then drive off. This was a daily occurrence. The Old Mill building in which I worked was mainly timber construction and was riddled with borer. Each morning when I arrived I would have to sweep off the droppings from the borer which had showered down from the timber roof structures. The building was eventually condemned and subsequently demolished.

  8. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Alan Young,
    Thanks for confirming that Cyril Shandley owned the old Bentley parked at the funeral parlour end of West Street. That was circa 1955 and I was 12 then. Good to know I was not hallucinating! I am a bit confused as to the Old Mill building you mention.
    The Bentley was parked outside the Dove’s funeral parlour facing towards the Beach end of West St. Doves was on the corner of West and Brook Street then. Opposite was another funeral parlour, Wilson Davey and C Dunham. Next to them was another old building and then the railway bridge. The railway line led to Berea Road Station below the bridge. Now what I remember is that beyond Brook St was the bridge, then a Municipal buidling where one could pay your water and electricity and next to that was a newer building that housed some shops one of which was Jimmy Green Furnishers. Then there was an open space on the corner of West and Warwick Ave with the Market Building in Warwick Ave ahead. So I cannot picture the Old Mill Building unless it was demolished between 1952 and 1955. I can find no reference to Old Mill Building.even in the 1938 Durban Directory. What was the name of the firm you were apprenticed to and I can try and trace it from that?

  9. Alan Young
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    Hi Gerald, Thank you for response. The Old Mill Building was on the south side of West Street and was the last building on that side overlooking the railway. On the west side of the railway was the Technical College The ground floor of the Mill was rented by Associated Engineers with the first floor rented by Mather and Platt [SA] Pty Ltd; the firm to whom I was apprenticed. M and P also occupied the basement which opened onto Smith Street. I’m unable to give a precise date as to when we vacated but both the above firms moved to new premises adjacent the Outspan Hotel. Probably mid 1950’s. I could be incorrect as to the ownership of the Bentley parked outside the Mill building. It was there each day facing westwards and he always drove off toward Berea Road If memory serves me in the building adjacent the Mill was a second hand car dealership on the corner of Park and West Streets and the Bentley owner was in some way involved there. My apologies if I have created some confusion on the ownership issue.

  10. Gerald Buttigieg
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    Hi Alan Young
    Will respond to your post just doing a bit of research.

  11. Alan Young
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    Hi Gerald, digging into the recesses of my memory I think the car dealer to which I referred was Middleton Motors But I’m open to correction on this . In trying to research Middleton all that kept coming up was the chief of Metro police! If a directory from that era could be found it may confirm my thoughts.
    Kind regards,
    Alan

    • Gerald Buttigieg
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      Hi Alan Young,
      I have a small library of Durban books and sometimes I hit pay dirt and other times the gaps are revealed. I have a 1938 Dbn Directory and Tower Buildings is given as the last building in West Street at No. 599. Occupants given are Associated Engineers Co. Ltd., Reinforcing Steel Co Ltd and SH Trescothick Armature Winders Electrical Repairs and Installations. So this ties in with your memories. I also found this picture showing lower West and Smith Street. It shows the general area and apparently is dated at 1920s. You can pick out the railway line and then the Tech Student Bldg then the new block and the old Tech Building. I wonder if the building with the tower next to the railway line on the left is not the Old Mill Building. On the Smith Street side the large building with central gable and two towers I only recall as a place where food coupons could be exchanged for basic foods. Have no idea what it was called. Next door to this building was a row of warehouses one of which was called Goldblatts. Mr Goldblatt bought loads of obsolete radio equipment from the Union Defence Force and I remember going there with a ham radio enthusiast to buy some parts. You were allowed to rummage through the scrap and seek what you needed. I recall the hams were after certain radio valves. I looked up Middleton Motors but can find no reference in the directories I have. After 1938 I have a 1957, 1965 and 1968 Directory. So still unsure where the Old Mill Building was but perhaps you can throw some light with the picture I have provided.

      Lower West and Smith Streets

  12. Alan Young
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    Hi Gerald, wow what a memory jogger your photo is! Yes, that is the building which I referred to as the Old Mill but your research reminded me that it was the Tower building although I always understood it to be a mill but exactly what product was milled there I know not. Also the reinforcing steel firm and the armature winders had vacated when I started work there so there were just the two firms; Associated and M and P leasing the building. If Tower was 599 West Street then Middleton would have been 597 or 595 as they were in the building adjacent Tower. Of course so much has changed since that pic was taken and most of the buildings in picture were demolished. The only ones extant are the Tech College, the small double storey building directly opposite the college and some of the buildings in the top left opposite Albert Park and the market buildings. In the lower centre the two buildings with dark roofs were demolished to make way for the Alhambra Theatre and M and P were responsible for the automatic sprinkler fire protection, one of my earlier design jobs. Thank you for sharing this fascinating pic with me.

  13. Gerald Buttigieg
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    Hi Alan Young,
    By 1957 the Tower Building was no more and the last number listed on that side of West St was 589 Crown Mills Spice Works then came the Technical College Buildings which remain today. I have not been down there for some years and I have a feeling the Art Deco Students Union building is no more. Need to check that. M & P in 1957 had moved to 1030 Umbilo Rd near Fenniscowles Road and the Flour Mills. If you look closely there is a building in Smith St marked with an X. This is EP and Commercial Printing Company. Opposite them was C Argo and Co showroom and warehouse, the sanitary ware suppliers. Other buildings I remember are the three on Smith St corner extreme right hand side of photo. The one was Jas McLeod the signwriters, then San Sales who sold ladders, wheels and castors and lastly the Peach and Hatton furniture factory. The P &H showroom was further down Smith Street beyond Park Street. I used to catch the Manor Gardens bus to school outside the premises. You can also just make out the Louis Botha statue opp the Tech. Although an old photo of the area, not much in Durban changed in the post war years and only in the 60s did the changes start coming.
    PS This is the building that now stands on the C Argo site in Smith Street.
    C Argo site Smith Street.

  14. Alan Young
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    Good day Gerald, thank you for the pic of the C. Argo site, I recall them and beyond the the grey building in the background was the rear entrance to Tower Building although Tower was stepped back with a fairly large yard area. I assume the street coming in from the right is Park Street.
    Reverting to your aerial pic there are three buildings in the top right hand corner and these were in Canal Road [now Richard Waine Road] which was the first road to the left off Maydon Road. M and P leased these premises from about mid 60’s after vacating 1030 Umbilo Road due to the growth in the business and the need for larger premises. Incidentally, 1030 was Associated’s address with the entrance to M and P being in Walter Saville Place. M and P then made another move to a first floor office block corner of Smith and Stanger Streets. From then on all fabrication of materials was done in the Johannesburg workshops and trucked to Kzn. It was at this stage that I resigned and moved into a different field of engineering. It is a fine old building that stands on the site of Argo and let’s hope it is preserved and does not suffer the fate of many other fine buildings in Durban.

  15. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Alan Young,
    I think you misunderstood my explanation. I was referring to the new buildings next to the old one on the corner. They are on the demolished C Argo site. The old building on the corner of Smith and Park St is listed as Park Gate Hall. There used to be a seller of old furniture on the ground floor. Sadly these old photos do not mean much to many but to others they do recall times and places that will never return.

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