Big update

There are a lot of bits and pieces that have been collecting so I might as well plunge straight in with a couple of pictures sent in by Bob Gooderson relating to the construction of the New Lonsdale Hotel. The pictures have been added to the gallery below which contains the pictures he has contributed over the years.

 Here are some comments, additions and appeals for information.  Georgina Stening wrote:

Dear Allan

I am a 2xgreat granddaughter of Henry William Currie who was Mayor of Durban and of “Curries Fountain” fame. I live in England and have visited Durban on two occasions. I have been to the Killie Campbell museum and obtained some family photos from the Old House Museum. My great grandfather was William Keit who married Currie’s only surviving daughter and I have been in touch with Professor Mc Cracken who wrote about Keit.

I wonder if you have any other information as I am trying to find out Currie’s actual birthday, as I may have traced him back to Kent in England, but I need the day and month to confirm this. I am sure that there must have been many articles written when he was Mayor of Durban but I have found the local newspapers of the time do not even give me the courtesy of a reply when I contact them.

I have a photo of the painting of Currie and his garden done by Baines. I hope to see the original painting of the garden in the museum when I visit Durban in November. I do have a press cutting of Currie’s obituary but I am sure there is much more info ‘out there’.

I look forward to your reply.

Kind Regards
Georgina Stening

Steve wrote in asking about a tanker that was damaged off the Transkei coast and came in to Durban for repairs. I do know she wasn’t the Aimee Lykes which nearly sank herself by running into the Aliwal Shoal at speed in October 1963 and spent six months being repaired in Durban. I found a great web page  about Aimee Lykes but, if you know anything about the tanker, please leave a comment below this.

Tim Conroy wrote:

I am fascinated by FAD, for which, as John Humphrys would say in that droll way of his: “Many, many thanks”.

He went on to solve a mystery which cropped up on one our flying boat pages and then he wrote:

I am also intrigued by PJ Thomas’ comments that he, aged nine, flew to SA in February 1947 the first leg in the Hind. I, aged six, flew from Croydon to Pamietfontein in mid-March in an Avro York, but I don’t know if it was BOAC or SAA. the flight was delayed a day because of that dreadful 1947 snow. Amazing to realise that a mere five years later the Comet service started!

On the same subject, Michael West wrote:

Hallo…The Flying Boat nose on in the Harbour with the Liberty Ship behind is G-AFCI Golden Hind….identified from the faired over gun turret below the fin which this had from about 1942 till its post-war rebuild when it got a new tail-cone at Shorts. See Nicole White’s other photos of Golden Hind….M West (in the UK).

Arthur Gammage needs some info. He wrote:

We have some work to do at the taxi ranks at Cartwright Flats, Umgeni Road. Can anyone tell me the origin and significance of this name? All I have so far is this reference from the S A History Online website:

“The Party (CPSA) had become very small after the shooting of CPSA member, Johannes Nkosi, in 1930, during the Anti Pass demonstrations at Cartwright’s Flat, Durban.”

Shaun Dreyer wrote asking about the Kloof Garden Railway:

Dear Allan

I am hoping you could be of help to me I am trying to find out more about a private railway that ran in a garden in Kloof in the 1960’s -1970’s. I have found your articles on the train that ran on the Durban beach front most interesting and I am not sure if these trains are not linked to the one in Kloof. As far as I also know the beachfront train eventually made it’s way to Scottburgh, which has also been removed.

I look forward to any kind of info you can provide for me.

Kind Regards

Alistair Brande wrote:

Hi Allan,

As far as I can remember there used to be a chain of toiletry shops in Durban. The concept was very similar to Clicks – I seemed to remember that they went out of business during the 1970’s. The name Powder Bowl seems to ring a bell.

Please can you help?


Sam Rouche wrote:

I was on the hunt for info and pics of the old Tropicale Restaurant in Albert Park. I remember going there with my grandpa when I was very young and was hoping you may know where I could get hold of any?

I’m doing a project for University in Albert Park and would love some images of the park to include. I hope you may be able to help.

Thanks so much for the great site!

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16 Responses

  1. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Georgina,
    Not too sure how much research you have done but I have a bit of information re H.W. Currie taken from John McIntyre’s book, “Origin of Durban Street Names”. Currie Road on the Berea was named after him. Here are the accompanying notes for what they are worth.
    “Currie Road runs from Berea Road to Florida Road. Named after H. W. Currie, Town Councillor in 1858, 1863-1866 and 1870-1880, and Mayor in 1879-1880; whose efforts in establishing wells and tanks at the foot of the Botanic Gardens in 1878 (hence Currie’s Fountain) from which water was piped into the growing town, saved Durban from a serious water famine. The Council in 1888 erected the Currie Memorial Fountain at the corner of West and Point Road in grateful remembrance of his achievement”.
    The memorial fountain remained in loco well into the 1990s. I know it was totally refurbished and missing pieces and parts were reproduced in epoxy to restore it to its former glory. The memorial was moved from its original position by the Etekwini Municipality to the Durban Botanic Gardens where it now stands.

    I checked whether H.W. Currie was possibly a Byrne Settler, that is the emigrants that arrived from England between the years 1849 to 1851 under the Byrne Emigration Scheme. His name does not appear on the list of passengers given in Dr John Clark’s book, Natal Settler Agent, The Career of John Moreland. However on page 187 of the same book there is this note. ” Durban itself had prospered because of its greater opportunities in commerce and manufacture. It had attracted to itself a nucleus of of ambitious, energetic and able men — like Sam Beningfield, William Campbell, George Christopher Cato, C.J. Cato, H.W. Currie, J.L. Hulett, J.R. Goodricke, William Harley, J.F. Kahts, E.P.Lamport, John Millar, Henry Milner, Savory Pinsent, George Robinson, John Robinson, W. Smerdon, Edmund Tatham, R.W. Tyzack, G.H. Wirsing and many others – who in their different ways contributed to its growth”.

    There is also reference to H.W. Currie in Eric Goetzsche’s book ” Father of a City”, the life and work of George Christopher Cato (born 1814- died 1893) , First Mayor of Durban. H.W. Currie was Mayor of Durban during the Zulu War and it was he who introduced the Town Guard which initially was 204 strong. This was instigated due to the threat that there was a possibility of Durban being besieged by the Zulus. I have an idea the Town Guard eventually became the Metropolitan Police later known as the City Police and are one of the oldest police forces still existent.

    Also from John McIntyre’s book. “Keit’s Avenue off Berea Road ..named after the old family who lived there for many years. Mr. W Keit was curator of Municipal Parks and Gardens for a long time and was a noted botanist and horticulturist .
    Hope these notes give you new leads.

    • Moira Badstubner (nee Williams)

      full marks to you for your follow-up on Currie, Cato and Keits Ave etc…

  2. Georgina Stening
    | Reply

    Dear Gerald
    Thank you so much for taking the trouble to reply to me. I am afraid that I have only just seen it so do appologise for not answering sooner. In late 2013 my husband and I travelled to SA and were able to view old copies of the Natal Mercury at the Bessie Head Museum in Pietermaritzburg. We photographed many articles printed at the time Currie was Mayor including a very moving and beautiful letter to the ‘Officers, non commissioned Officers and Men of the 2nd battalion of H.M. 24th Regiment who fought at Rorkes Drift…….
    As the time has now arrived when you must take your departure from this colony, we, the Mayor and Town Council, as representing the burgesses of Durban, Natal, cannot allow you to leave the land whose frontier your heroism has kept inviolate, without delaying your footsteps for a moment upon the shore, while we place upon enduring record this expression of our admiration of your deeds, and of our lasting gratitude to you, for the heroic services performed by you in the defence of this colony when menaced by an invasion of overwhelming numbers of Zulus, on the night of 22nd January, 1879.
    It is not yet a year since in the shadows of the evening, a company of your regiment saw approaching from the slopes of the Buffalo River the darkest cloud of invasion that had ever lowered over the wide frontier of British Dominion in Africa.
    The storm which then gathered around you, held in all the fierce power caught from recent victory, gained over your brethren who had fallen, fighting at a vast disadvantage on the sad and fatal field of Isandhlwana.
    Reckless of loss, confident in its numbers and strength, that wild wave of savage invasion burst upon your hastily improvised defences, and surged against the scanty defenders as the sun went down. all through the night the savage but dauntless foe renewed again and again his attempts to break your line – a line that was weak in all save courage, loyalty and duty. No need for us to repeat the story of Rorkes Drift.
    As the daylight faded away above the heights of Helpmakaar, it left you, simple and untried soldiers holders of an unknown post. When daylight broke again over the Zulu Hills, Rorke’s Drift had become a name of pride to those who speak the English tongue over the earth, and each and all of that little garrison had become heroes.
    Out of the gloom of a great disaster the star of your victory shone resplendent, and Natal, saved by you heroism, dried the tears of her anguish in the glory of your victory.
    take then, officers, non-commissioned officers and Soliders of the 2-24th regiment, the thanks which we, burgesses of Durban, and colonists of Natal, heartily offer you.
    Wherever your future fortunes and destinies of the Empire you serve may call you, be assured you will carry with you the honour, the admiration, and gratitude of those who now bid you Farewell! H.W.Currie, Mayor. Durban, Port Natal January 1880.

    Some letter ! Regards Georgina Stening

  3. Georgina Stening
    | Reply

    Dear Gerald
    Following on from the information you kindly supplied to me, although I live in the UK, I have visited Durban a few times and travelled along Currie Road and Keit Avenue. I have been to the botanical gardens and seen the water fountain and researched William Keit, who is in fact my great grandfather. Prof. McCracken, who has written many books on the botanic gardens has been very helpful to me. Indeed the old Palm trees along the Esplanade were planted by Keit in old oil drums on his property to grow them on and my Grannie remembered being told off as a child for jumping over them! Best wishes from a considerably colder but sunny UK.
    Georgina Stening

  4. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Georgina
    Thanks for that added info. The last time I visited the Botanic Gardens I came across the Currie’s Fountain Memorial which had been moved from where it stood for years at the corner of West St. and Point Road. I am not sure why it was placed there originally but I understand that where it now stands is more in line with the original Currie’s Fountain which was Durban’s water source. The memorial was refurbished some years ago and my nephew supervised some of its restoration with some of the broken and missing parts having to be re-fabricated. Have you any idea of the date when the Esplanade palms were planted? I am also not sure of the date when the Esplanade was laid out in its present form. I do know the railway line to the harbour edging the Esplanade was laid in the early 1930s.

    Currie's Fountain Memorial

    I attach a photo of the Currie’s Fountain Memorial as it now stands in the Botanic Gardens.

  5. Georgina Stening
    | Reply

    Dear Gerald
    I can’t tell you exactly when the palms were planted but my Grannie was born in 1885 so assuming she was old enough to jump over the drums I would think that they were planted in the early 1890’s. William Keit was made Curator of Parks and Gardens after he resigned from the Botanical Gardens in 1882 so I would assume he was still in that post when the palms were planted. He layed out Albert Park and Mitchell Park to my knowledge so in all probability the Esplanade was layed out about the same time. I expect that Prof. Donal McCraken at the Botanic Gardens would be able to tell you more accurately. William Keit died in 1916. Thank you for the picture of the fountain, it brings back lovely memories of my first time in SA in 2011.
    Kind Regards
    Georgina Stening

  6. Georgina Stening
    | Reply

    I forgot to mention that only some of the original palms remain and from memory are sited on the east side with a road running each side of them.

  7. I.E. Colyn
    | Reply

    My eldest sisters late husband, David Wheeler’s grandmother Sue Currie whom I believe is part of the Currie family. I am unable to substantiate this with my sister as she has Altzheimers. Can anyone recall the name of Mr H W Currie’s wife?

    • Georgina Stening

      Dear I.E.. Colyn
      I have just found this question, albeit a year late! H.W. Currie was my 2x great grandfather and he married twice. Firstly to Sarah Parker in 1841 and then to Sarah Ann Rudder in 1844, from whom I am descended.
      Georgina Stening

  8. Moira Badstubner
    | Reply

    I lived on the Bluff and some how the name Wheeler rings a bell…
    I also worked for Electricity Supply Commission so now I am confused!!!! Moira Badstubner (born Williams)

  9. Wayne Grundy
    | Reply

    Any Connection with H W Currie and Mount Currie in Kokstad…?

    • Gerald

      Hi Wayne,
      Looked up the references I have and find no connection between HW Currie and Mount Currie.

  10. Ann Harper
    | Reply

    I have been researching the family of Captain John Smith. He had a number of children including a daughter called “Susie” who according to family lore married a Currie, the mayor of Durban . I wonder if that is your Sue, IE Colyn. Captain John Smith apparently donated his ship’s canon to Durban. My husbands line is connected to William Henry Smith one of his sons. Another daughter May married into the Colenbrander family. Hope this helps.

    • Georgina Stening

      I don’t think your information is correct. Henry William Currie was my 2xgreat grandfather and he m,arrived Sarah Parker in 1841 and then Sarah Ann Rudder in 1844 from whom I am descended.
      Henry and Sarah Ann Parker are both buried in St Thomas cemetery on the Bereaved in Durban.
      Regards Georgina Stening

  11. Gerald
    | Reply

    Hi Ann,
    Smith is a well known name in Durban’s history but I cannot place Captain John Smith. It would be helpful to elaborate as to his connection to Durban. Which ship did he command? Also what period was he?

  12. Ann Harper
    | Reply

    Just starting the Smith research and so rely quite a lot on anecdotal evidence from my mother in law. .

    My husband’s Smith line (omitting all the other children and side shoots)
    Capt John Smith (very sketchy info) apparently born in a port village of Kent, sailed out to SA with 6 children, boat worked along the coast between Durban and Port Elizabeth. Married Matie Wessels who he met on one of these trips, she returned to her parents in the Free State when he died. He is apparently buried in Anglican church grounds, Pinetown.
    William Henry Smith ( born in Kent, Married Catherine Maginnity, 1888 Belfast , died March 1942, Addington.
    George Amos Smith Born 1892 Belfast, Ireland, died Greys Hospital, PMB. Lived most of his early life on the Bluff.
    Norah Annie Smith born September 10, 1919, Durban. died 16 August, 2007. She was my mother-in -law. She married Stanley Edward Harper in 1946. Lived for 50 years on the Bluff. Still trying to verify dates etc

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