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Patrick Coyne would like to know if anyone has a picture of the plaque adjacent to the main Post Office steps commemorating the fact that Winston Churchill gave a speech from there.

Added February 6, 2017: See this post for a picture of the plaque.

 

Tanya wrote:

Hi Allan
Does anybody remember and perhaps have photographs of the MENTONE MANSIONS? I think i recall this place correctly. IF memmory serves me correctly it was a self catering place of about 8 storeys high, and it was situation on the marine parade between the Elangeni and the Maharani Hotel.
This was in the late 1965/66? I remember I was a little girl visiting with my grandparents from Pretoria and I used to take their little dog for a piddle early in the morning still dressed in my pyjmas, while they would keep an eye over me from their little flat. it was lovely times and great memories of simpler and safer times.
I have searched everywhere but seems not to find anything about this place. Mentone mansions it was pinkish in color.
Thanks again
Tanya

I had a look in the FAD files and Google Street view and can’t find anything on Mentone Mansions, only Mentone Road.  Can anyone help?

 

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34 Responses

  1. John Taylor
    | Reply

    For the Churchill plaque try to access https://c2.staticflickr.com/8/7054/6931230731_662df79479_z.jpg

  2. Allan Jackson
    | Reply

    Hi John
    That’s interesting, thanks. I didn’t remember that plaque. I wonder if there’s any text or whether that relief is all there is.

    • Gerald Buttigieg
      |

      Hi Allan,
      The plaque commemorating Winston Churchill’s speech at the Post Office was on the right hand side looking at the building. It was mounted on a stone column and there was a text if I remember. The text commemorated Winston Churchill’s speech to the general public from the steps of the Post Office. Taken from the book A History of Natal (Edgar Brooks and Colin Webb) the incident is recorded thus: ” ……. mention should be made of the armoured train disaster at Chieveley between Estcourt and Colenso, on the 15th November 1899, chiefly memorable for the capture of Winston Churchill. Churchill after his escape from internment at Pretoria, re-appeared at Durban in December and addressed an excited crowd of Durbanites before returning to the front. ” In later years the plants in that area of the Post Office started concealing the column and not many were aware that it stood there.

  3. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Tanya,
    Mentone Mansions. Rings a bell as to location on the Beach Front but to be sure I have looked up the 1938 and 1968 Durban Directories. In 1938 Mentone is already listed so it was existing then. Its address is given as Snell Parade and the number of flats listed given as 40. To give Mentone’s position the 1938 directory gives the following: Molyneux Rd, Winchester House, Torquay Hotel, Carnarvon Cafe and Flats, Mentone Flats, Myhill Mansions, Rialto Court, Althea Court Cafe, Althea Court, Somsteu Rd.

    By 1968, not much had changed and the information is given as follows : Molyneux Rd, Winchester House, Winchester Ladies Hair Salon, Post Office, Torquay Hotel, Carnarvon Flats, Carnarvon Cafe, Mentone Mansions, Myhill Mansions, Rialto Court, Kangelani Flats, Althea Court Cafe, Althea Court, Somsteu Rd. Obvious there was an empty plot as Kangelani is a new addition at some point. As to tenants listed only 8 are listed and I will give them for interest: No 1 CF Holland, No 4 H Raner, No 9 V Gordon, No 12a S Lowenstein, No 22 BP Benjamin, No 24 R Snyman, No 33 VM Holman and No 35 Mrs JE de Lucy. The address for Mentone is given as 75 Snell Parade.

    I would surmise that most of these buildings have been demolished but it would need a walk around to see if any survive. I have a strong feeling the Torquay Hotel was demolished many years ago. Sorry no pictures.

    • Dale C Matthews
      |

      Dear Gerald, In The Early To Mid 60’s My Father Had Rented An Apartment In Mentone Mansions, On Snell Parade, Opposit The Amphitheatre, On North Beach, And All Through Those Years, I Went On Holdiay To Him In July And December. And, Then When My Grandmother And I Went DownTo Live With Him In 1965, And My Dad And I Moved To Rialto Court. They Had Another Building Between Them, And For The Life Of Me, I Cannot Recall What It Was Called!!! Both Mentone And Rialto Buildings, If I Remember, Were Owned By Either A Family, Or Just The Remaining Matriach, And She Would Not Sell Those Very Valuable Properties, Until, After Her Death ,The Younger Generation Did In Fact Sell Them,, And Are in Fact Now The Elangeni And Maharani. To The Left Of Rialto Court, Was The Kangalani, Which Had A Cafe Under It OnThe Corner, Opposite The Cumberland Hotel!!! I Think Cafe Was Called The Athens Supermarket, But Could Be Wrong!!!

    • Gerald Buttigieg
      |

      Hi Dale
      The building between Mentone Mansions and Rialto Court was Myhill Mansions. There was a discussion on FAD about these buildings and there were postcards added. Do a Search for one of the names or Kangelani .

  4. Mike Kamionka
    | Reply

    Hi Gerald,
    The following link (on this site FAD) shows a picture of Torquay Hotel, from one of the postcards sent in by Wade Kidwell. See the number on the bottom is 99?.

    https://www.fad.co.za/Resources/album/wade/wade2/torquayhotel.jpg

  5. Desmond Tuck
    | Reply

    I lived in Myhill Mansions from 1963-1969 and my late dad owned the building at the time. He previously rented Myhill Garage at the back, from about 1948. I was very familiar with Mentone Court. It was owned by Jack Blumenthal, a friend of my dad’s. Sol Kerzner was buying up the block and Jack didn’t like him so he refused to sell, and said he’d have to get it over his dead body. They first built Elangeni on the site of the Torquay Hotel and Carnarvon Court, and then the Maharani on the site of Myhill Mansions and Rialto Court. Then eventually someone bought the Mentone site and built huge holiday flats there. I left Durban in 1970 for Joburg, and then left Joburg for the USA in 1978. Contact me for more information.

    • Nasim Parak
      |

      Hi Desmond , you mentioned your dad renting Myhill garage behind Myhill mansions. Was it , at the time a petrol station ? I am greatly interested as I am the current owner of a Caltex petrol station. Behind the maharani hotel. I am interested in the age of the site. You mentioned he rented it from 1948, was it existing at that time ? Do you know when it was built. I would greatly appreciate any photos you may have of the garage.

    • Gerald Buttigieg
      |

      Hi Nasim
      Did a little detective work on your query and I think I have come up with something. In the 1957 Durban Directory, Myhill Garage existed as being 30 -34 Playfair Road. According to the map I have Playfair Road runs parallel to Snell Parade and therefore would be the back of Myhill Mansions. Now referring to the 1938 Durban Directory I have, there is no Myhill Garage in Playfair Road but considering that at that time there would not have been a proliferation of garages, there is a garage in Playfair Road called Armstrong’s Garage. Playfair Road was hardly developed in 1938 with the only properties being the Durban Jewish Club and the Star Seaside Hut (sic) on one side and Armstrong’s Garage on the other. No street numbers were allocated but I would bet that Armstrong’s Garage later changed to Myhill Garage. From my digging into Durban properties post World War 2 not much in Durban changed and the changes only started coming in the 1960s.

  6. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Desmond, Thanks for the info regarding Myhill and Mentone. Getting snippets of background is always interesting. I met Sol Kerzner when the Beverley Hills was then new and he had just had a large Plessey PABX installed and I was involved with the commissioning. Each suite had their own telephone extension which was a novelty at the time. This was round about 1968 /69. I looked up Myhill Mansions residents in the ’68 Dbn Directory and R Tuck is there in No. 28. Just to jog your memory the telephone number was 20211. You don’t happen to have any photos of that part of the beach front in that period?

    • Desmond Tuck
      |

      I do have some photos from those days but they’re packed away at the moment. Although retrieval is on my “to do” list, I can’t make any promises as to when that will be. I spent many happy hours playing in the Amphitheater Gardens, and we used to watch the shows on the stage with binoculars from No. 28, which was indeed my home from 1963-1969, when we moved to Montezuma in the next block. My blessed late dad, Ruben, passed away only last year, 2013, at the ripe old age of 94. If you e-mail me, I’ll keep it on record and when I get my pics, will scan them to you.

    • Nasim Parak
      |

      Thank You so much Gerald, that information was fascinating, currently my service station is called Caltex North Beach , in 30 Playfair Road. No one knows the exact age of the site. I am surprised that it could have existed in 1938 as you said north beach was sparsely populated then to sustain the business.

    • Gerald Buttigieg
      |

      Hi Nasim
      Looks like that all lines up. The present address of your garage lines up with the 1957 entry of Myhill Garage. Myhill Garage address lines up with the Armstrong’s Garage entry for 1938. So I would say there has been a garage on that particiular site for close on 80 years at least. I would say cars became available in Durban in the 1900s but they would have been for the elite, Remember Durban developed a very efficient transport system from the earliest days first with horse drawn trams through to the trolley buses. So owning a car in Durban itself was not a necessity for a lot of families. I would say this continued until post year years and only the expansion of outlying parts of Durban and affordabilty made the car a need to have. Take Durban North for instance this only became part of Durban about 1932. So within Durban itself the need for plenty of garages was not commercially viable as compared to today. By the way Caltex originally was known as Texaco if I am not mistaken. They had offices in Durban in 1938 at 51 Williams Road, Sydney Road area. Caltex still operated from the same site in 1965 so this again shows that business firms tended to remain in their set locales over the years. You will have to follow up the Armstrong’s Garage clue now.

  7. Desmond Tuck
    | Reply

    And yes, I do remember that our phone number was 20211. Myhill Garage was 29830. We lived in Hampton Court prior to Myhill, and that was demolished to make way for Marine Sands. I believe the phone number was transferred.

    • Allan Jackson
      |

      I have emailed Desmond as he requested. We’ll post the pictures when we hear from him.

  8. J.Dube`
    | Reply

    Hi Gerald & Allan.
    I have 2 photos of the area including Mentone Mansions and the others mentioned. I will send them to Allan and ask that he kindly puts them on the site. These are from the 1950s / 1960s if it helps.
    Regards
    John

  9. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    A correspondent by the name of Tanya wrote in asking for pictures of Mentone Mansions. Being a rather unknown block of flats on Durban’s Snell Parade it would seem that photos would be rare or hard to find. However John Dube, has obliged (see post above) and found two pictures of the area, one a photograph of unknown date and the other an ARTCO postcard which I think would be late 50s early 60s vintage.

    John does not indicate where the photo came from and it is hard to guess when it was taken. With my limited resources I established that the tall block of flats is called Kangelani. This is a +/- 15 storey building (counting the floors and referring to the 1968 directory where the flat numbers only go as high as 154 ) The building is post 1938 as it is not listed in the 1938 Durban directory. I would venture to say it is post war probably early 1950s.

    Using Kangelani as a marker then to the right is Althea Court* with Althea Court Cafe at street level. This is a 9 storey building and is listed in the 1938 Directory. (NOTE: all buildings below marked with an asterisk are listed in the 1938 Durban Directory).

    Then not clear in the photo there is a road, Somsteu Road, with a partial view of the Cumberland Hotel on the corner of Somsteu and Snell Parade. In the distance the background is indistinct but no buildings are shown. However the 1938 directory lists the following as beyond the Cumberland Hotel* : Oswald Pirow Avenue, the Aeronautical Station (?) , Defence Force Barracks , Walter Gilbert Road, The Country Club and Athlone Drive. The Aeronautical Station may refer to the Stamford Hill Aerodrome which was then Durban’s Airport.

    Coming left from Kangelani, the first building is Rialto Court*, a 6/7 storey building with 42 flats.
    Then Myhill Mansions* , which in the photo appears to have two flanks and one assumes the entrance is inset between them. The building is given as having 58 flats. Then comes Mentone* of 4 storeys and 40 flats. Then further to the left Carnavon Flats and Cafe which appears to be a 3 storey building with angled frontage in the photo. Carnarvon Flats consisted of 11 flats. Finally one gets to the last building on the left which is the Torquay Hotel* with an indistinct dormer window set into the roofline. Only one is visible but the Torquay had distinctive dormer windows and arched detail which is clearer in the postcard below.

    The Artco postcard is numbered 463 and shows the Amphitheatre and Sunken Gardens. In the background are the Torquay on the left and Kangelani on the right. It gives a clearer view of the frontages of the buildings named above. The building attached to the Torquay on the left is Winchester House* which housed a ladies hair salon and the Snell Parade Post Office.

    As I write it appears that the Sunken Gardens are in a total state of disrepair.
    Thanks for the photos John.

  10. Jeff Isaacs
    | Reply

    Tanya, My family used to stay at Mentone mansions when taking our December holiday to Durban. This was between 1965 & 1966. It was a three story building, containing I think a total of 32 flats. I do stand to correction on that fact though. I have strong and pleasant memories of spending our two weeks at a time there. There were sea facing rooms and I thing a number of rooms facing the road at the back. Self catering in that there was a stove, fridge, crockery & cutlery. An Otis lift did duty serving the three floors with a manually operated interior gate.The photographs here are certainly old, very close to the way I remember Mentone Mansions. I have a more modern photograph I located on the web with Mentone Mansions sandwiched between the Elangeni and Maharani. I imagine it was demolished very soon after.
    Jeff

  11. Dee
    | Reply

    My mom lived in Carnarvon Court with her mom for many years (1948 to 1956 and possibly later). She has just been telling me about all the buildings in that block – Winchester Court, Torquay Hotel, Carnarvon Court, Mentone Mansions, Myhill Mansions, Rialto Court, Kangelani, Althea Court. What memories!

  12. Allan
    | Reply

    Hi Tanya yes i lived at Mentone mansions in 1973 it was next to the Elangani in fact I worked there at one stage. There was a bar at the back then called the Long John Silver. The caretaker at Mentone was a Mrs Guy I lived on the 5th floor and later on the second The apartments overlooked a grassed are and car park If you would like any more info let me know

    • Jeff Isaacs
      |

      Hello Allan, The Mentone Mansion I wrote of previously was the original beach front building. Around 1967 / 68 ( I guess) a new building was erected at the rear, six or seven stories, and formed part of Mentone Mansions. Access was through the old building or through its own entrance in Nathanial Isaacs Road. ( No relation ). This new building including the old were demolished around 1975. Not sure what stands in its place but I will research. Please do provide whatever information you may have.

    • Bob Carter
      |

      Hi Allan. Are you sure that the Long John Silver was at the back of Mentone, and not the revamped Elangeni?
      You’ve really got my memory playing tricks on me now, because I know I’ve been into the LJS, but would have sworn I’d never set foot into the Mentone!! Shoo. Too far back……..

    • Allan Jackson
      |

      Hi Bob
      I think other Allan was implying that he lived at Mentone and worked next door in the Elangeni at LJS.

    • allan fleming
      |

      Hi Bob Carter just revisited this site and saw your comments. You are correct the long john silver bar was at the back of the Elengani. When i lived in mentone mansions next door i would slip out the back to work ir to the long john silver bar

  13. Allan
    | Reply

    hi Jeff thanks for the update now I recall my flat was in the newer part and remember access through the old entrance or an undercover carpark at back. I am an Australian and have many happy memories of living in Durban. I remember when i returned for a vistit in 1994 for the test at Kingsmeade we stayed at the Elengani (this time as a guest not a construction worker ) i will have a hunt around and see If I can find any photos May take a while

  14. Allan
    | Reply

    Ps Mentone were at 75 Snell Parade

  15. Anna
    | Reply

    Thanks for this information! My mother, Joan Cressey, (1923-2004) lived in a flat in Rialto Court with her mother during WWII. Rialto Court was at 91 Snell Parade. My mother, Joan, loved living there despite the war going on and the blackout. Their flat was on the ground floor, round to the left. All blocks were blacked out at night because of Japanese submarines in the area. Patrols used to come around and tell them there was a chink of light and they could be in danger etc. Joan recalled that she wasn’t worried at all. She slept on a sort of enclosed balcony-cum-bedroom. Her boyfriend (SAAF pilot Cliff? Ellis) used to fly his plane low over her flat at 6am every morning. “He said that it was time for me to get up!,” she told me.

    Joan remembered how she crossed the road and went swimming every morning before work. She told me that she could still remember the sense of freshness of having bathed in the sea, showered and a fresh cotton dress and the sun and going to work (at the City Health Department). “It was a lovely time… she recalled, “a nice life.”

  16. Jess
    | Reply

    Hello,
    My Grandad (Colin Herbert Myhill McAlister)left behind some cryptic clues to his heritage including the initials G.F M. & Arthur Bush ‘Myhill Mansions”. Does this mean anything to anyone? Any information would be greatly appreciated
    Jess

  17. Gerald
    | Reply

    Hi Jess,
    Not much to go on there but any indication of when your Grandad lived? If you don’t know, Myhill Mansions was a block of apartments on Snell Parade, which is on Durban’s beachfront. It appears in the 1938 Durban Directory so it was built prior to that. There are three McAlisters resident in Durban in 1938, B., J., and W.A.
    In 1965 there is a C.M. McAlister living on the Berea in Durban.

    • Jess
      |

      Hi Gerald,
      Grandad was born in 1916 at Seapoint, Capetown. I googled the Berea and it said that it was an area above Durban or a collective area. I am not sure who the B, J or W.A McAlisters are but will keep looking. Thank you for your help.

  18. jess mcalister
    | Reply

    Fantastic Gerald,
    Thanks for this info, I’ll see what my dad makes of this. Cheers
    Jess

  19. Gerald
    | Reply

    Hi Jess,
    Here’s a bit more info. In 1968 C.M. McAlister was still living at 10 Marlowe, a small block of flats in Bulwer Road. However two other McAlisters are now listed : E.T. living at 3 Barbeton Place Escombe, an outlying area of Durban and J.H. living in Sander Place New Germany which is in the Pinetown area. I note there are far more McAllisters than McAlister.

  20. Amanda
    | Reply

    I lived in mentone mansions in 1983 I believe it was bought out by sun hotels about 2/3 years after. go in google street and put in snell parade you can walk all the way around the park that we used to play on at the back of the elangeni is still there. It was 2 women who owned it when I lived there they were from Bloemfontein I recall. There were holiday apartments at the front and more permanent residents at the back. We came from the uk nd there were a few English families living in there

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