What date?

Can anyone help the pictures in the following gallery which were sent in by my informant Ian Calder Potts (whose family, we soon discovered, were very friendly with my mum’s family in East Griqualand). The scans came from a book of postcards and Ian is interested in getting a date for when the pictures were taken.

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One item of particular interest is the view of West Street which shows the Electric Theatre near Payne Brothers. There is a mystery about this because the Electric, Durban’s first cinema, was always believed to have been on the site of the present Medwood Gardens and there are pictures of it there. Cinema history expert Mikhail Pappas says that he has seen a contemporary advert which refers to the West Street address so the cinema must have moved there quite early in its life. He is busy chasing down leads and will let us know when any more information comes to light.

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5 Responses

  1. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    I cannot give a definitive date of the post cards but can give some direction. I think the post cards are all of the same era. Looking at Harvey, Greenacres, that building was completed in 1900 but the two additional floors of the Railway Station were added in 1903 and the City Hall was completed in 1910. At the time the old City Hall (now the Post Office) was used for the National Convention meetings running up to Union in 1910. The picture shows the Post Office in use so I would venture to say these post cards are circa 1910. The perforations on the side I would think indicate that they came out of a “booklet” of postcards maybe “Views of Durban” which you tore out as you used them. My 2c worth.

  2. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Ian
    I assume you must be related to the Potts family whose store “Smith and Potts” is indicated in the first photo showing early West Street. I looked up the 1938 Durban Directory and found that Smith and Potts was still operating then at 245 Pine Street. There is a small ad in the directory for Smith & Potts which states” Quality House for Paints, Tools, Hardware, Glass and Leaded Lights”. I would dare to say looking at the picture that the double storey building shown in the photo was still in the same locale. Also from the directory is that the Smith & Potts Warehouse was at 58 Alice Street. With regards to the name Potts, two entries: B.E. Potts 148 Bellevue Road and V. Potts 160 Bellevue Road. Bellevue Road is on the Berea. I cannot recall the name Smith & Potts in the 1960s and it does not appear in the 1968 directory. Perhaps the war years put paid to the business.

    • Ian Calder-Potts
      |

      Gerald, many thanks for your interesting information on dating the postcards which you correctly say are in a tearout booklet. Sorry for my very late response.
      No relation to ‘Smith & Potts’; my family were farmers and traders in East Griqualand and Basutoland.

  3. Norah Ohrt
    | Reply

    Ian Calder-Potts,
    I hope you are able to assist.
    I am trying to contact Deborah Calder-Potts, she was from East Griqualand , if she is a relative can you please give her my contact details. I last saw her in Las Palmas, Canary Islands in 1969/70 and I am very anxious to re connect!
    My details are email palaciomor@gmail.com address Calle Madera 42 Martos, JAEN 23600 Spain
    Thank you in anticipation
    Norah Ohrt

  4. andy
    | Reply

    ah, my beautiful city, once a princess with hope and peace and promise but now a hellhole

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