The Arcades of Durban


This has been an on/off topic that I started, left and finally did finish. Please feel free to add any arcades I have left out and  comment on any information pertaining to them.

The Arcades of Durban.

One aspect of Durban’s central business district which I well remember growing up in Durban, was the number of arcades that linked West St. and Smith St. and West St. and Pine St. There were others as well dotted around the city. All the arcades had a myriad of shops at ground floor level and many had retail outlets on first and second floors above them. You really knew your Durban CBD well if you could remember what shops were in which arcades.  Now armed with my Durban Directory as backup I thought it would be an interesting exercise to list the many arcades that existed in 1968. Some have now disappeared, many have been revamped, some may have had a name change. Here’s the 1968 list and I have added comments as to some of them I remember. They are in alphabetical order.

African Life Arcade:       362 West Street.   West St. through to Pine St.

My memory of this arcade was that from the West Street side all the shops in the arcade were on the right hand side only. On the left hand side, the wall had fairly large picture frame display cases rented by some of the tenants. The last shop at the Pine St. end was Playdays, Toys and Hobbies who were agents for Dinky Toys and Britain’s lead soldiers. The three Monkey’s Coffee Bar was at the West St. end.

Ajmeri Arcade.                 141 Grey Street.    Grey St. through to Cathedral Road.

One of the iconic arcades in the Indian Quarter. The Cathedral Road end exited directly outside the Cathedral. The Grey Street end was a whole collection of small shops. Upstairs was a shop which sold tropical fish. There were a lot of tailors, and shoe shops in the arcade. I never felt daunted going through the arcade and in later years even took my family through it just to experience it.

Beach Arcade.                   20 West Street.   West St. through to Palmer St.

An obscure arcade which I remember from the days I worked at the Beach Telephone Exchange complex. The arcade was rather dilapidated and from West St one exited at the back of the Exchange Building. In later years the Mykonos Restaurant (remember eat as much as you like? ) was adjacent. One would arrive for work on Monday mornings to find workers from a pig farm loading drums and drums of uneaten food scraps being the weekend’s “leftovers”. In the arcade was a gift shop run by a family named Cramer and a hair salon called Salon de Beaute. The whole arcade was demolished in the 80’s and redeveloped as a CNA outlet, the arcade disappearing.

Castle Arcade.                     318 West Street.   West St. through to Pine St.

One of Durban’s landmarks which should have been preserved in my opinion. It was an old building already when I remember it. If I remember correctly it had a glass paned roof covering the central arcade and steps leading upstairs. About midpoint in the arcade used to stand a large glass showcase which housed a model of the Armadale Castle, the first Union Castle Liner to cross the bar and enter the port in 1904. This ship’s model was moved to the Durban Museum. The entire arcade was eventually demolished and the 320 West Street complex now stands on the site. There is a passage through the new complex but as far as I recall it was not named Castle Arcade; in fact I am not sure if it ever was given a name. In the new complex probably one of the first “eating house” franchises was located on the ground floor passage called the Golden Egg. This would have been early 1970s.

DoDo Arcade.                     389 West Street.     West St. through to Smith St.

A vague memory of this arcade. Seem to recall it had steps in it so it was not level right through. In the arcade was the Universal Watch Works and they had a neon sign to this effect. On the West Street side there was a lady’s shoe shop called Do Do’s which also had a basement section. Do Do’s was part of the Eddels Shoe Group.

Guildhall Arcade.      25 Gardiner Street.   Gardiner St. through to Durban Club Place.

Another not well known arcade in the lower part of Gardiner Street, Esplanade end. I know where it is as at street level was a shop called Audiolens who were agents for Bang & Olufsen (B&O) hi fi equipment. In the late 60s it became trendy to have a serious hi fi set up and equipment. I recall B&O (Swedish Bang & Olufsen ) being top notch if you could afford it. Sansui, Pioneer, JVC, Akai and Kenwood being cheaper imports. Audiolens were also agents for Japanese 35 mm SLR cameras which at that time saw the changeover to Single Lens Reflex and the demise of European view finder cameras.

Henwoods Arcade.           342 West Street.     West St. through to Pine St.

This arcade came up for discussion with Henwoods of West St. on FAD. A very old arcade from what I have read in the history. There was some uncertainty as to whether it was a single storey or double storey building. The 1968 record shows that Henwoods actually had seven floors! The 6th and 7th Floors were occupied by the Natal Business College which I recall offered early school leavers the opportunity to get what was called Commercial Matric certificates; shorthand, typing, bookkeeping etc. Very vaguely recall that in this arcade there was a shop that had various sea corals for sale as well as rocks with crystals in the insides. Not many memories of Henwood’s Arcade.

Himalaya Arcade.               159 Warwick Avenue.   Warwick Avenue through to Lancers Rd?

The closest I got to it was going to Angler’s Paradise (103 Warwick Ave) with my uncle to buy fishing equipment. Fridays they stayed open till late and the whole area was alive with people. Himalaya House would have been opposite the old Indian fresh produce Market which was on the point of being done away with not so long ago, but eventually saved. Another I never visited.

Kismet Arcade.           75 Prince Edward Street.   Prince Edward St through to Leopold St?

Never visited this one.   In the heart of Indian Commercial area.

London Arcade.                 356 West Street.       West St. through to Pine St.

The arcade running through London House, a really central block of flats in the heart of the CBD. I recall this as being a rather narrow arcade with many small and strange shops in it. The lift to upstairs was closer to West Street than Pine Street. The Brides and Maids Shop was on the West St. end and used to have full size models in the display windows. JIX Model Centre was the place for balsa model aircraft kits as well as the motors for them. CrisCraft and Baby Bees come to mind. Near the West St. end as well was Norwegian Silver, a gift shop run by two elderly ladies. It was one of my favourite places to buy affordable but good quality wedding gifts. Empire Watch Works was in there as well as a second hand bookshop which also had a vast array of sea shells and coral pieces as decor. In the directory it is shown that Emile’s Wigmaker was on the first floor. Emile’s was run by a dapper, Mr Dressler. I was friends with the guy who married his daughter and eventually ran the business. On the first floor windows facing Pine Street, the advertising was shown as Emile’s Postiche. Emile’s made a name for themselves in the wig world notably supplying Tina Turner and the late Mr Rajbansi! Interestingly enough I found that Emile’s Hairdressers were operating at the beach end of West Street in 1938. London House suffered severe fire damage I think in the 1990’s and today looks rather worn down. An interesting arcade and one I walked through often.

Madressa Arcade     145a Grey Street.   Grey Street through to Cathedral Road.

This arcade is in the Indian business area close to the Grey St. Mosque. I never went through it.  Probably took its name from the school that was linked to the nearby mosque.

Murchie’s Passage.                         Between West and Smiths Streets.

This was not an arcade as such, as I remember it, but more a walkthrough between West and Smith Sts. It ran under the Barclay’s Bank building. This was adjacent to the Cuthbert’s Building in West St. The Barclay’s Building was replaced by the Eagle Building and I seem to remember the last surviving Murchie daughter opened the new Murchie’s Passage in the late 80s? I seem to recall there were no shops in the Passage.

Salisbury Arcade.                           349 West St.     West St. through to Smith St.

Probably one of the best known and used arcades in Durban in the 1960s. Very centrally located it always had traffic going through it. On the West St. side was Jerome’s Outfitters. In the arcade was the Stork Shop (baby wear), Sincerely Yours (card shop), Arcade Tobacconists, Elna Sewing Machines, Burlington Art Galleries, Florette and Goodyear (florists), Dragon Tea and Coffee House, The Umbrella Shop, Moore Shoe Co. and at the Smith Street end, Bermeisters Camera Centre. At the Smith St end, the arcade on the right was open to an open space with staircases leading to the upper floors. This space was made into a small garden area. On the floor above the arcade I remember there being a bridal shop and a shop I visited quite often, Track and Trestle which specialised in Model Trains, Models and hobby equipment. It was owned by the late Carl Peters and the shop became a meeting place for model and model train enthusiasts. There was an escalator on the inside of the arcade which took you to the first floor. In the building above many doctors had rooms. In the early 60s on the West St end when music record shops started appearing, a shop opened on the corner. I stand corrected but I think it was called the The Record Den. This was the time of the Beatles and 45 rpm and LPs were eagerly bought. The shop if I recall had booths where you could listen to the tracks using earphones. A popular coffee shop (called The Press Club) opened at the Smith St. end in the early 90s (?) and on the Smith St frontage Keogh’s Stamps and Coins opened a large outlet for a few years.  Keoghs did not last many years at all and it was replaced by a Hilton Weiner retail outlet.

Sadly I walked through Salisbury Arcade but a few years ago and it was deserted. Just about every outlet on the ground floor was TO LET. The CBD just wasn’t what it used to be.

Sanlam Arcade.                                       West St. through to Smith St.

This is probably the newest arcade in the CBD. When the Standard Bank building was demolished the whole site was redeveloped as the Sanlam Centre. There was much controversy as to the demolition of the Standard Bank building which was highly rated architecturally. But in the end it did not survive the jackhammer. I did go through this arcade but cannot recall much of what was in the interior bar that there were escalators from ground level going upstairs.

Trust Arcade.     Corner West and Gardiner Street.

This was an odd arcade in that it had a right hand bend in it linking West St. and Gardiner St. It was at the base of the Trust Building which has now been demolished and replaced by the multistorey Old Mutual building that stands there now. I think it has changed hands now. The Trust Arcade had Bernina’s Sewing Machines, Cafe Madeline, Alpine Cake Shop as tenants. For years prior to its demise, a shop with Pottery Seconds occupied the Gardiner Street frontage.

West Walk         405 West Street.            West St. through to Smith St.

A more modern arcade relatively speaking. For the young dudes in Durban this was the arcade were Bachelor’s was. Bachelors in the 60s was the shop where to get suited. I cannot recall the names of the two owners but a school friend, Clem de Gaye worked there for quite a few years. The swinging London dress fashion had hit Durban in a big way and one, to be “hip”, just had to have a 60s suit to go with the mini skirts of the fairer sex. West Walk if I remember also had steps in it and it cut through at an angle. There was an open coffee bar in the middle and a large mosaic tiled post box below a staircase leading upstairs.

Times have changed. Will the hustle and bustle of the arcades ever be revived?

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174 Responses

  1. John Taylor
    | Reply

    Hi Gerald,
    Great post bringing back great memories!
    In the mid to late sixties I was an articled clerk to a firm of accountants situated in what was then the JBS Building on the corner of West and Field Streets. This was not the most creative or vibrant occupation, so lunch times were often spent strolling through the CBD, particularly the arcades. Bearing in mind that the shopping centre monoliths of today were not yet in existence, this was a pleasurable shopping experience.
    I always fondly recall the arcade / lane running from West to Smith streets next to the Central Hotel, particularly for the “smells of the city” which ranged from stale booze and cigarette smoke from the Central Hotel mens bar, to the “come in and buy me” delicious aroma of the Central Pie Shop. I found it impossible to walk past without purchasing a pie from their wide variety, especially the curry pies.
    I hope that our contributors share their memories. My wife and I recently reminisced about some of favourite eating out places, and we recalled a restaurant called Friars which was down one of the lanes / arcades, but the cobwebs of time prevent me from remembering which one.

  2. John Taylor
    | Reply

    The owners of Bachelors were Keith Ferguson and Graham Dunwoody. This was a real high fashion outfitter for Durban, especially when compared to the mens departments of Greenacres, Payne Brothers, and Stuttafords, and appealed especially to the closet gay community of the sixties.
    There was also another high fashion outfitter called the Skipper Bar in one of the arcades near Payne Brothers.

    • Peter abrahams

      Also at Bachelors were Allen ‘Daffy’ Morrison, Digby and Joe, Francoise Gelle. Digby and Joe went on to form Nubian Notion….can’t remember the name of the arcade…near Ashley House.

    • Gerald Buttigieg

      Hi Peter,
      Where was Ashley House?

    • Peter

      Hi Peter,
      Nubion Notion was in Murchies Passage as I recall .Digby and Joe were great mates of mine-sadly Digby and Francoise are no longer with us.


    • Nicki Jeffery

      Hi Peter,
      I worked with Francois, Digby, Clem, Robbie, Graham Dunwoody at Bachelors Mens clothing in 1972. I am Canadian and was living in SA from 1971-72. What a great group of guys! I remember Bachelors did a fantastic fashion show on Musgrave Road at the Dunwoody’s home. I was aware that Digby passed away but I wasn’t aware that Francois had.

    • Etienne

      Hi Nicki,
      I worked at Bachelors International in Merchies Passage, as a casual from ’84-’87, then managed the Pinetown branch in ’88. Francois Gelle was the MD, and Graham and Esther Dunwoody still owned Bachelors until it was sold to a JHB company called Galtrucco I think. All these guys like Kieth, Digby, Clem, Daffy were all part of the greater clothing industry by then, but still came in to Bachelors all the time. It was like the retail heartbeat of the clothing industry.

      Sadly, Francois passed away a few years ago. I think he owned a Mauritian Reastaurant in Durban North. I know he was always very friendly with Robert Mauvis of St. Geran Reastaurant.

    • Nicki Jeffery

      Hi Etienne,
      So we missed each other by 12 years. You must have some awesome memories. I feel blessed to have had the experience of Bachelors in the 70’s and to have known the Dunwoody family who were so good to me. Thanks for your thoughts.

    • Jenni

      Was this shop on the front side corner of West street.

  3. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi John,
    Bob Gooderson’s recent post about the Three Monkeys reminded me that I had written up most of this Arcade article and it was sitting there waiting to be finished. To have included all the small lanes etc would have made it a monstrous post. At one point in the script I did mention the numerous lanes, passages but then omitted them. The lane you are talking about is Mercury Lane. The Pie Shop was there as was another Durban establishment, Lerwill, Pope Bespoke Tailors who made Officers’ Mess Dresses and suits to order. I always remember the “Bespoke Tailors ” which was signwritten on the top of their display windows. There was also a camera shop in Mercury Lane probably early 90s. My friend Roy Collyer who worked for Whysalls at the Beach branch, left them and took up a position with this camera shop. I used to meet up with him there. Eventually he went back to Whysalls and ended up at the Pavilion shop. There was also a gift shop called The Galleon Gift Shop. The Central Hotel was on the West St end of Mercury Lane.
    Graham Dunwoody! That’s the name I wracked my brains trying to remember. Ferguson I don’t recall but I remember there were two of them. I remember the Skipper Bar as well, also modern and 60s . I checked and it was in Hooper Lane next to Paynes. Regwoods Toyland was also in Hooper Lane and it was owned by Reg Woodroffe (hence the Regwoods). A very unassuming shop with one small display window facing Hooper Lane and the entrance. Inside it was as large as a warehouse, a bit dark come to think of it. Probably was the best known toy shop at the time. Reg also ran the Doll’s Hospital which was well known in Durban. The Doll’s Hospital could revive just about any broken doll. Carl Peters, I mentioned in my Arcades story, worked at Regwoods as a Glenwood school boy and was probably why he eventually started his own toy/hobby business when he left school. Reg would attend the Nuremburg Toy Fair in Germany and bring out the latest model trains, building kits, etc. Regwoods had a devastating fire I think in the late 70s and then the business was taken over by the Akals. P. E. Cooke the piano and organ specialists had a shop in Hooper Lane as well. Now you know why I decided to leave the lanes out.

    • Allan Jackson

      I knew Roy Collyer when he was at Whysalls in the Pav. I hear that the firm has closed its stores and wonder what ever happened to him.

    • Gerald Buttigieg

      Hi Allan,
      Roy Collyer and I go back to the mid 1970s when I was busy with the installation and commissioning of the Beach 37 Telephone Exchange. That was a hectic project as the Level 6 Exchange (all Durban tele numbers starting with 6) in Pine Street was being closed down and was to be replaced by Beach 37 Exchange. This meant 10 000 lines had to be transferred to the Beach Exchange and kept going until Cut Over Day when Level 6 closed and Beach 37 took over. That is another story! At lunch times I used to get out of the office to get away from the telephone that never stopped ringing and used to walk around the Beach area. Whysalls was just down the road in Brickhill Road and they had second hand, traded in camera stuff displayed in their corner window. I had my Minolta SRT 101 then and was looking for lenses and accessories. I went in one day, met Roy and a lady assistant, I think her name was Judy, and we became friends. Claude Whysall and his son Jeremy were there and the chemist shop, Whysalls was still operating on West St / Brickhill Road corner. Claude Whysall was the chemist. Roy was into model trains and I supplied him with scrap lengths of multicolour telephone cable used in his layout. Upstairs in Brickfield Rd was Claude’s Camera Museum which I do not think too many people knew about. It was a magnificent collection and I recall he had one of the world’s best collections of Leicas. I understand that the whole collection eventually was sold at Christies in London. Roy left Whysalls at some stage and worked in the camera shop in Mercury Lane but then went back to Whysalls. When digital cameras started appearing business changed as cameras became over the counter goods and Game and Makro etc entered the field big time. The Whysalls corner was completely revamped and then Whysalls left that corner and moved wholly into the Brickfield Road building. I think this took place after Jeremy took over when Claude passed on. Roy returned to the the Beach branch and when the Pavilion opened he moved there. He also had a spell at their Umhlanga outlet. Roy spent his last years at the Pavilion finally retiring about 4/5 years ago now. He used to live in Kloof/ Hillcrest. I have not seen him since. I have the latest 2014 Durban Telephone Directory and Whysalls are still listed with branches at Umhlanga, Beach and Pavilion so they are still going. I did a check on the 1938 Directory and Whysalls were operating on the same No 68 West St / Brickhill Rd corner then as Whysalls Pharmacy and Wholesale Dept. From the same reference, Claude Whysall lived up the road in Olympic Court.

  4. Allan Jackson
    | Reply

    A great post Gerald. You mentioned a coffee bar in West Walk. Was that the one that had a few steps down from arcade level and became a Wimpy? Wherever that Wimpy was, it was one of our favourites!

    • Gerald Buttigieg

      I remember that Wimpy, a few steps down and it was on your left in a kind of open space. I looked it up in the Directory and that was in Murchie’s passage so bang goes my idea that there were no outlets in Murchie’s. The Directory does not list Murchie’s Passage for some reason.

    • Anthony Krijger

      The Wimpy was in Murchie’s Passage. I used to save up my change for a burger there when I was on school hols. I think it was one of the first Wimpy’s in Durban.

    • Bruce Ritch

      Hi Gerald, I worked initially at Redgwoods in October to December 1971 for the Christmas period. Colin Woodroffe, Reg’s son employed me. In January, 1972 I joined Barclays National Bank (just after it had been renamed from Barclays Bank DCO) and worked at Smith Street East branch. Late in 1972, (a couple of months after my colleagues who joined when I did, went off to do National Service in the July intake), I moved to 359 West Street branch in Eagle Building. Facing Murchies Passage from West Street, you had Barclays National Bank 359, West Street branch on the left. Upstairs in Eagle Building on the 1st Floor, was Barclays Computer Centre as well as Foreign Branch. On the 6th Floor was the Durban Central Depot, where all of the local branches delivered the days work to be processed. Also on the 6th Floor was The Parker Pen. The Central Hotel next door, hada bar, the manager of which was the father of one of my colleagues at the bank, Terry Morgan, and on the Wednesday after payday, we finished work just after 13H00 and spent the afternoon drinking cost price beer (Castle or Lion) until the regulars came in at about 17H00. As I recall, dumpies cost 25c at that time. I also often went to the CNA in Cenewa House to collect magazines (eg History of the Second World War partworks). One day in April or early May 1973 I met a Canadian girl, Christine, who was working there temporarily, while travelling around the world in her Gap year between High School and University, and we used to have lunch together sometimes at the Take and Bake in Murchies Passage. Sadly, Christine and a friend went North to Rhodesia, and they were murdered by Zambian troops on the Rhodesian side of Victoria Falls. That event, as well as feeling like I was letting down my new homeland, spurred me on to enlist for National Service. That is another story itself.

  5. Eddie Oborne
    | Reply

    DoDO Arcade: – If I remember correctly:
    Universal watch works was the last shop on the upper level. They had a sign stating watch repair 30shillings. There were a few stairs down to a lower level on the Smith Street side.

    Castle Arcade: Was this the arcade with a black and white check floor, wood framed shop fronts? Ron Tomlin radio shop at one end?

    • Tikvah Abro

      Yes- and upstairs was the original Dolls Hospital,and midway between west and pine st ,ground floor was a comprehensive Haberdashery shop called Millicent Young where you could have your buttons and buckles cloth covered as well.

    • Susanne Spiller

      Thank you for this article. It has been a wonderful trip down memory lane.
      I remember that upstairs in 320 Arcade , there was a shop i loved to browse in called ‘ The Laughing Buddah’, a men’s suit hire and , if I’m correct, the Kon- tiki restaurant?
      On the ground floor , pine St side was a Juicy Lucy.

    • Gerald Buttigieg

      Thanks for the kind words. The name Spillers rings a bell. Not sure if you are related but I seem to remember they were into food catering??

  6. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Good memory Eddie. Yes Universal was on the left and then a few steps down to a lower level. Castle Arcade was within an old building and the floor was tiled black and white pattern. The radio shop was Thompson’s on the first floor which I think was a mezzanine overlooking the arcade. Ron Tomlin, I remember it, as we bought transistor and electronic spares from them for Telkom equipment. However I knew it in St George’s St round about 1980s and not in Castle Arcade. The 68 Directory lists Ron Tomlin as being in Essex House which was in Smith St. The Capri Bio Cafe was in Essex House up the stairs, with the Trust Bank close by. I do not think Ron Tomlin was an old Durban firm in my reckoning.

    • Derek Cook

      Re Castle arcade. The Radio spares shop I remember from the early 1950’s was on the ground floor of the arcade. It was called Ellis Radio. I remember it well as I and a friend set about building a High Fidelity amplifier (such things were not on sale then) and we had to scrounge resistors, capacitors and valves from wherever we could. Ellis Radio was run by a Mrs Ellis (don’t know her background but had the impression that she carried on running the shop after her husband had died).
      Incidentally, another source of parts, advice and encouragement in those early days, was Walter Lemm who started the firm “A1 Radio Services”. He started off upstairs in one of the old buildings in West Street and then moved to Umbilo Road, close to the Moore Road intersection.

    • Tim Gallwey

      Yes, Ellis Radio was on the ground floor near the Pine Street end of the Arcade, on the right I think. My brother was heavily into building radios and I went there with him a few times, maybe in the 1940s when Mr Ellis was still alive and present. He and his wife seemed to be clued up on radio parts.

  7. Tony de Wijn
    | Reply

    I remember buying a military-style white suit with split-knee bell-bottom trousers from Skipper Bar in Hooper Lane in the very early 70’s. It went down very well at all the clubs. The Skipper Bar was next-door to a cake and pastry shop that made the best pies in Durban at the time. I may be wrong but I think the pies came from a business near Albert Park.

  8. peter
    | Reply

    Himalaya Arcade ran between Warwick Avenue and Etna Lane. ( not Lancers )
    2 shops I remember there were Predon Photographic Studio and Rajsons Hairdressers
    where I used to have a haircut for a shilling in 1961. there were also a few arcades between Queen and Pine and Commercial roads, can’t quite remember the actual names though.

  9. Cary Burnett
    | Reply

    My parents, Graham and Ester Dunwoody, started Bachelors. They were initially in partnership with two others, Lynton Israel and Keith Ferguson, but bought them out in the 60s. They eventually had five stores: Bachelors and True Blue in West Walk, Bachelors Again and Valentino in Smith St and Bachelors International on the corner of Muchies Passage on the West St side. They were pretty legendary shops and had a substantial following of loyal customers in Durban. The family has a lot of archival material including photographs spanning the decades that the business existed. Among other firsts they sponsored the Comrades Marathon and Durban City Football. They were the first to sell coloured mens shirts in Durban inthe 60s when all that was available was white, cream and pale blue.

    • David M

      Its great to read about these great arcades. I grew up in Durban and remember these shops such as Bachelors and there was another i think was called silks i think.I was a very good customer of Bachelors and Valentinos.
      I eventually worked for Woolfsons as a manager so continued my interest in fashion.
      I remember with great fondness of the very high fashion shoe outlet called Italia. They specialized in platform shoes and boots mainly for men. I used to stare in amazment at there wares in there window as a young teenager and always wanted yo buy all the stock.
      i do remember Batchelors again too. Wonderful stores.
      I absolutely loved the seventies era.
      i would dearly love to see pictures too. I love nostalgia.
      live in the UK now.

    • Quentin du Plooy

      I strolled through The Gateway Mall earlier this year and was delighted to see a Batchelors store, loaded with trendy merchandise.
      Obviously many incarnations later… Some things keep going.

    • Etienne Joubert

      Hi Quentin, I worked at Bachelors International corner West street, from 1985 to 1988, then I managed the Pinetown store for 1988. It was a great business, and established my desire to get into the clothing industry, where I’ve been for 33years. I remember Graham and Ester Dunwoody, Francois Gelle, Richard Michael, Yunis Jeff Motala and the amazing tailor shop upstairs at the Bachelors Again store in Smith street.

      During that time I worked at Galtrucco as well with Greame. Excellent training in clothing, working with the best ranges….

    • Etienne Joubert

      This was my Saturday job while I studied full time at university, so I would work there every holiday as well. So goo to study during the week, and be ale to sell the best clothing to fascinating clients.

      Get to know the various clothing agents like Ant Ozwald etc….

    • Karen Ward

      Where is Jerry Dunwoody? Was at school with her and would love to be in touch with her again!

    • Karen Ward

      It would be great to see some of those old pics Cary! Perhaps your folks would oblige for this site? I was at school witish Jerry for a while! Remember being quite jealous that she had a dad with such a cool job!

    • Ryall Hamlyn

      Hi Cary, I only read this now whilst researching the old arcades and a walk down memory lane in the 60’s. I remember your parents Graham and Ester Dunwoody very well. Keith Ferguson was my uncle. I certainly remember the success story it was. Bachelors was ahead of it’s time and Durbans prime men’s outfitters. It was the subtle revolution of mens fashion in Durban from the conservative 60’s into the era when men stepped out of Safari suits, tweed and Corduroys and started to dress confidently with snappy style. After opening Bachelors Again, Keith did indeed sell out to Graham and moved to Cape Town where he started a similar shop called “Ah- Men, ” and “Tie Rack” which were both huge successes also.

    • Pat Thomson

      Hi Carey don’t remember you but remember your brother but forgotten his name and he was good friends with Barry Nicholson. I also grew up in Northdene. Pat Kewley now Thomson

    • Tony da Silva

      hi Cary,
      by chance i came to this page and it brought me memories reading about the different arcades, i used to frequent these arcades and subsequently worked on a couple of them including West Walk with Bachelors lol
      I remember you well but hanged around more with your sister and brother and not to mention Keith Kavanagh ,i loved your mom Esther and dad Graham , it was a sad day when she said that i must go, apparently she was told i was giving discount on sale goods, she later told me it was Francois, shame i heard he committed suicide last year , anyway the time i was there was wonderful and i still see Clem (Rabi) de Gaye at Musgrave Centre, have you any pics to share from those times? a bit of nostalgia is good for the soul xx

    • Etienne

      Hi Cary

      I worked at Bachelors during the ’80’s, and I remember your parents when they still owned the Bachelors stores. think Bachelors was the real heartbeat of the clothing industry, and certainly men’s fashion in Durban in the 70’s and 80’s. What would be great would be to make a Bachelors Facebook page, where people can post old fotos of the stores, the people and personalities that were such a strong part of Durban fashion scene. I will start the page, but I need some old fotos of the stores, maybe your parents, with your permission, of course…what do you think…

      By the looks of the comments on these pages, your parents Bachelors stores, were such a big part of so many people’s lives…

      Let me know what you think.

      Best regards


  10. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Cary,
    Thanks for that information and right from the source so to say. I did not know of the association of the other stores but vaguely recall there was a Bachelors International in later years . I looked up Bachelors in the 1968 Dbn Directory and it is given as 10 West Walk. The directors are actually stated : Keith Ferguson and Graham Dunwoody. The other stores you name are not listed in the directory so perhaps you could give a sort of approximate time line. In my earlier comments I mentioned Clem de Gaye a school friend who worked at Bachelors and remembered he used to known as Frenchy. He had a younger brother, Roland. As I said Bachelors was “the” shop to go to for a suit if you you were of the younger generation at the time. It was pricey for some though. I also looked up Tailors and Outfitters in the directory and there were a tremendous amount of them. Many were Indian including Govansons of Grey Street where I bought my Time to Shine suit etc. Some of the more well known ones were Waynes, Jeromes , Outfitters, Woolfsons as well as all the main stores which had Men’s Depts. Yes interesting about the coloured shirts. You are quite right and if my memory serves me right in Bachelors the shirts were in compartments against a wall as you entred the shop. It was also in the early 60s that the “tie bar” (if that is the correct name) came into fashion. That was the little rod which went through two holes in the collar to keep the two points down. At the same time shirt collars came out with insert holes at the back of the collar points where one could slide in plastic inserts. These made the collar points stiff and prevented the curl up of the collar points. In addition the Windsor knot came into fashion which was more elaborate and smarter than the old fashion school boy tie knot. Apparently the knot was attributed to the late Duke of Windsor who was always impeccably dressed and a “beacon of sartorial elegance!”
    Had no idea of Bachelors sponsorships. If you would like to post some of the archival pictures get in contact with Allan Jackson via CONTACT US on the Home Page. I am sure he will gladly assist you.

  11. peter
    | Reply

    Hi Gerald,
    Interesting times indeed. The plastic inserts were also known as “collar bones” if I remember correctly and were also used as plectrums by some guitarists at that time.

    • Rodney Coyne

      I also now remember the days when it was more or less obligatory to insert collar bones in your shirt (white only of course). Not specifically related to Durban, but does anyone of that era remember using a ‘spiv’ for the same purpose? This was an M-shaped strong thin wire, with a spring-loaded spike at each end. The spiv was placed under the collar and the two spikes would push the points of ones collar down as with bones.

    • Tim Gallwey

      I certainly remember them but had no idea what their name was. In my schooldays it was very important to have one to keep the collars looking smart instead of curled up and slack.

  12. Gillian Lentin
    | Reply

    Hi Gerald
    Hope you can help. There was a brazilian coffee shop and i’m not sure if it was at the bottom of a little lane that ran parallel to either West Walk or Salisbury arcade. Seemed to remember someone called Stella worked there. This would’ve been the early 60’s
    Thanks ,

    • Gerald Buttigieg

      Hi Gillian
      I looked at the 1968 Durban Directory. There was a Brazil Expresso Coffee Bar at No 4 West Walk on the ground floor as well as a Brazil Coffee Bar on the first floor, No. 104 West Walk. Salisbury Arcade remember is opposite Woolworths which is on the City Hall side of Field Street whereas West Walk is on the Berea side of Field Street so you are looking at quite a stretch of area between them. West Walk was adjacent to Greenacres and there is a Greenacre’s Passage which ran between Greenacres and The Hub. The one little eatery / coffee bar I remember in Greenacres Passage was The Boulevard. I cannot recall the coffee bars personally. Hopes this help.

  13. Bobby Hex
    | Reply

    Hi Gerald,
    Great article on the arcades. I travelled daily to DHS via the city from 61 to 64 so had ample time to traverse the arcades getting of the bus in Smith street and traversing to pine street to catch the 700 bus via Ellis park to Broadway. Some of the shops I remember are Ian Vermarks store in the lane from West to pine street he was a Davis cup tennis player and all the tennis players went there. I worked at Kings sports in west street in 1965 and part time till 1968 and recall Whysall’s having a town branch in the front of the sports section where I worked. I remember well the tall imposing figure of Claude Whysall in his crisp white safari suite. The staff of the sports department at that time consisted of myself Clive Barker, Karl Benorchus, Mike Graham , and casual workers Allan Isbister and Roy Bickerton. We had great fun and added many grey hairs to our boss in keeping the peace between the camera shop and the sports department. In those days tickets for test matches were sold by Kings so when a test ticket event happened long lines formed streatching out of the door making normal business quite impossible. I remember the ticket books were printed by Hayne & Gibson [The press at Kingsmead ] These were guarded like gold as you can imagine they were in great demand. I wonder how todays world would cope in selling 30000 tickets by hand but I don’t recall any hassle ,people were much more patient in those days. Around the corner in I think Mercury lane was Derek Capelle;s sports shop he had limited stock and we often had to dispense a item for his errand boy while the customer waited for Derek to check his store room for the item. Also in this lane was Nubion Nation a upmarket trendy clothing store I think owned by Rod Andrew and Digby Wallet.

  14. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Bobby,
    Thanks for adding your memories. Some of the names you mention do ring a bell and I hope you do not mind me correcting the spelling. Ian Vermaak Sports was in Hooper Lane. I recall Kings having a photographic section in the front of the shop on the ground floor as you walked in on your left. I did not know it was a Whysalls branch though if I am getting my facts right. Clive Barker we all know and his home is still in Durban. I remember playing against him in the Under 16 Cup games. The name as you have there Benorchus I think should be Bonorchis a family of socer playing brothers who played league. Derrick Capell’s sport shop was in Mercury Lane. And then there was Reg Wright, Dan Le Roux and Les Salton’s sport shop in Pine Street. They were later joined by Mike Proctor. Yes Hayne and Gibson, The Press at Kingsmead emblazoned on the exterior wall. That building in Old Fort Road was demolished to make way for a Natal Building Society office complex.

    • Bobby Hex

      Hi Gerald,
      The photographic department in Kings was definitely run by Whysalls although I don’t recall it being there for very long. Karl Bonorchis was in his late 50s then and I don’t recall his being in involved in any sports but I may be wrong. He was in the wholesale side of the sports trade.

  15. Stuart Talbot
    | Reply

    Dear Gerald
    You might have seen a Article in the Saturday independent of a walk I did through the arcades and alleys and I can assure you they are just as bustling as ever .
    I never thought anyone was interested in these little spaces other than Barend van Niekerk’s little gem of many years ago

    Thanks and hope can contact you some day to join us if we do a walk

  16. David Owen
    | Reply

    I left a reply the other day which I think must have been deleted. I have great memories of my time in Durban as a teenager. Iam keen to find out about the shops I remember and the arcades. I mentioned a shoe shop called Italia that was so diverse in many respects . It specialised in platform shoes and had a range that was unbelievable. I remember watching the pop group Rabbitt buying shoes etc for some up coming gigs. I think that this shop was owned by the same guy who owned slack Rack. This was on Smith Street. I would love to hear about anything like this. I was a customer of Valentinos and Bachelors many times. In later years in the eighties I worked as a manager for Woolfsons 388 and as a scholar I worked for Outfitters in the very late seventies.. That was a shop straight out of the eighteenth century. I have many fond memories of working there. Reading through some of these postings have struck many fond and wonderful memories that are very precious. They were wonderful times. One of my visits back to SA i wandered down Smith street from the top and was unfortunately mugged right in front of hunts Opel at Knife point so put me off wandering again.

  17. William Paterson
    | Reply

    Excellent article and well amplified by other correspondents. Here’s a really curved ball —
    Any idea what shops /offices operated in Mercury Lane in 1919?

    Didn’t Gandhi have a little office there? Any ideas anyone? RSVP

    • Hannah Lurie

      Yes, Ghandi had an office in Mercury which he shared with Advt. R.K. Khan.
      I know this as I was commissioned to make the bronze portrait bust of Advt. R.K. Khan which is in the foyer of the R.K. Khan Memorial Hospital. (I am a sculptor)

  18. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Bill, Long time since I’ve seen you comment. Yes that is a curved ball but from the book Origin of Durban Street names here is some info.
    Mercury Lane runs from West St. to Smith St. The open drain referred to under Mark Lane * continued to straggle across the intervening properties on the other side of West St. In 1875, the strip now known as Mercury Lane was presented to the Council by the adjacent owners, (Robinson & Vause, T.M. Harvey and Churchill) and was there upon hardened as a foot way. For many years the printing wirs and editorial offices of the The Natal Mercury were situated in the lane.

    *Mark Lane runs from Pine St. to West St.– originally an open drain (called Adlam’s central drain) straggled through to West St. at this point. The Council bought the strip from TW Edmonds in 1875, diverted the drain into a barrel drain and hardened the surface to make a pathway. The name may have borne some allusion to Mark Lane in London , famous for the Corn Exchange off Fenchurch Street.

    Nineteen years after 1919 here are the occupants of Mercury Lane:
    Right Smith Street:
    4/8 Arlines Cakes
    10 JC Beatson
    12 Elgie and Co.
    12 “Patricia”
    14 Mercury Chambers
    14 NA Coughlan
    14 Lerwill Pope and Co. Tailors
    18 Thos Cook and Sons
    Robinson and Co.
    Standard Bank of SA
    West St.

    Left Smith Street:
    Southern Life Buildings
    7 “Stutmors” Shoe repairs & Invisible Mending
    7 WH Bedford
    The Natal Mercury
    The Central Buildings
    17 The Durban Optical Co.
    17a Rose Laird
    19 Chinese Dragon Co.
    21 Jacobs, Lionel and Son
    23 Miss K Burgess
    25 Hollywood Movie Tests
    27 Central Pie Shop
    29 Standard Pharmacy
    31 Novelty Shoe Store
    Central Hotel (Side Entrance)
    West St.

    Interesting . Who was “Patricia” ? Hollywood Movie Tests? One looks back and wonders.
    PS Looked up Patricia, she was a dress maker!

    • Taryn Andrew

      Hi Gerald…I fear I may be too young to truly appreciate this but nevertheless i loved reading your article,sounds very different from the “town” that I know…I am curious about something though…there was a book store in Mark lane,if I’m not mistaken…I was wondering,if by some miracle,its still there?

    • Gerald Buttigieg

      Hi Taryn
      I remember the book store. If we are thinking of the same one it was call Tony’s Book Exchange. You climbed a set of stairs to get to the bookshop itself. It virtually was next to the side of the CNA in Mark Lane. If my memory serves me right below the shop was an electrical parts dealer. Can’t say I remember who owned the book shop but it was quaint with some decorations about the rooms occupied. Books were on wooden and metal shelves. I found a particular book I wanted there in 1998. Not living in Durban any longer I do not know whether the bookshop is still there. I doubt it as when last I roamed around the streets that I grew up in, there were very few white people around the CBD.

    • Pixie Furby Mather

      Just loved reading all your posts bringing back such happy memories of my childhood and we delighted to see Novelty Shoe Store mentioned in the Mercury lane info this was owned by my Grandfather, Benjamin, (Bobby) Furby, and run by my Dad, Ted Furby!!! Thank you !

    • ivan beal

      hello gerald, ivan here again, i saw the comment from hannah lurie and i note that she is a sculptor, across the road from my shop in west street, there was a sculptor, his name was chris gounaris and the shop was called gounaris greek classical art. i wonder if hannah lurie knew chris, he was widely acclaimed and did a lot of work for the government in pretoria? i would have asked hannah directly but cannot see how to reply within her post, if you could pass my question on i would be very grateful as she may know what happened to chris, i have not heard from him for ages.
      many thanks gerald

  19. J.Dube`
    | Reply

    Hi Gerald, Further to the MURCHIES PASSAGE, in the 1950s the passage was open top running alongside Barclays Bank, 359 West Street. Down the passage on the right side of the passage at the Smith Street end there was a staff entrance to the bank. My dad worked there and I would meet him there after work . Past the bank on the same side there was a large open space used for parking. On the left side just passed the bank was a tobacconest and gents hairdresser owned by the Dinkelman family (relatives of mine) Their shop was always busy. At the West Street end running down the other side of the passage was a big furnishing and fabric shop with display windows facing onto Murchies Passage as well as West Street (I seem to remember / think that was what the shop was). Past Dinklemans there was a big shop stretching back from Smith Street. The passage was always busy being a convenient walkway between West and Smith Streets and the parking area behind the bank.

    • Rodney Coyne

      Some additional recollections on Murchies Passage : it was the final home of Pimms Chemist, at the time of its closure the oldest pharmacy in the province. I think it closed in the late 80s or early 90s.
      Regarding the Murchie family : I suppose that ownership of the property had long been out of the Murchie family, but I do remember meeting the elderly spinster Murchie sisters. They lived close to the end of Ridge Road near the steps going down to North Ridge Road (Gerald can no doubt give details of their street number). They were aunts to my Afrikaans teacher at Northlands in the 50s, Theo Shippey, who boarded with them and who has previously been mentioned on FAD. It was one of the really old attractive Durban homes – a verandah house I think they are called.

    • Gerald Buttigieg

      Hi John and Rodney,
      Murchie’s Passage from the book Origin of Durban Street Names states: runs from West St to Smith St. Took its name from the business premises of a general dealer who traded at this point in West St. for many years. A Murchie was a town councillor in 1884.

      Then the occupants from 1938 Directory:
      Smith St Right
      1 Jackson and Stuart Tailors
      3 Lamson Paragon (They were the people who printed the bus tickets if I recall?)
      5 Reg Bird & Allais (Pty) Electrical Engineers, Sound and Radio Engineers.
      7/9 Mecca Cafe
      11 Gwendoline O’Flaherty Florist
      Offices of Natal Land and Colonization Co.
      West St.

      Smith St. Left
      2 M. Dinkele Hairdresser
      4 SOS Shoe Repair Service
      6 E D’Hotman Estate Agent
      Oamaru Building *
      8/10 Kathleen et Cie Hairdressers
      West St.

      * Oamaru Building is a separate building with address given as 346 Smith St. Perhaps there was a side entrance to this building from Murchie’s Passage for it to be included here.

      Pimm’s Chemist at this time (1938) was situated at 82 Field St with W.R. Pimm the chemist.
      It appears that the word “Chemist” was used at the time as opposed to pharmacy.
      Pimms the Chemist ( W.R. Pimm & Co.) (1968) 14/15 West Walk Arcade.

      re The Murchie Sisters. 1938 Miss A.H. Murchie 745 Ridge Road Tel No. 88460
      1968 Miss C.A.L. Murchie 745 Ridge Road Tel No. 888460

      I recall as well reading there were two sisters and I have a newspaper clipping from my late father in law’s scrap book showing one sister opening the revamped Murchie’s Passage sometime in the early 70s.

      I tried to recall where 745 Ridge Road was and found it was on the corner of Ridge Road and Mountain View Road. Mountain View Road I know as my late school fried John Hughes (Natal Cricket Scorer) lived in Mountain View Road. So my memory of the end of Ridge Road was that it ends up as Tee junction with Springfield Road on the right and Ridge Road continues down a hill on the left , where it swung right again to meet Earl Haig Road. This was a trolley bus route. At the point where Ridge Road became Earl Haig Road so to speak, Mountain View Road came into Ridge Road. For many years there was a large vacant plot near this intersection on the left. Also in the vicinity was the Jet Kimber (Aero?) Scout Hall. Anyone remember this?

      Theo Shippey was a lecturer at Uniersity of Natal and brother to Kim Shippey , the broadcaster.

      Interesting as well the Murchies kept their same telephone number for the 30 years. 88 was the code for the Overport Telephone Exchange situated in Ridge Road opposite the large revamped shopping centre. The additional 8 added was due to an enlargement of the exchange and the need to have 2 routing digits to switch calls in a growing Durban area. When I arrived at Overport in 1962 as a new Pupil Technician it was already “88”. Overport was originally the trunk operator exchange for Durban subscribers outside the Durban area and was probably the first Dept. of Posts and Telegraph’s (Government) Automatic Exchange in the “outer” Durban area. Remember that the “Durban area” was serviced by the Durban Corporation Telephone Department, a totally privately owned department. In April 1969, The Durban Corporation Telephone Dept was bought out by the Department of Posts and Telecommunications being the last privately owned network in South Africa . The takeover was necessitated by the commencement of the introduction of National Subscriber Trunk Dialling where nationally, subscribers could dial each other direct without the aid of an operator. It was impossible to carry on as it was, due to the financial admin chaos of the cost of calls, incoming and outgoing, being allocated to the correct administration.

      Moving off topic now but a subject I would like to put down in writing one day.

  20. Charles Smith
    | Reply

    A map showing the arcades would make a huge difference to this article.

  21. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Charles,
    Easier said than done. I covered just about all the arcades in Durban and that covers a large portion of the CBD. I also included the more notable ones in the Beach, Grey Street and outer CBD areas. Remember as well that the arcades I mention ran through buildings and were not lanes or passages. If you were born and bred in Durban these were known walkways as the CBD was just that. There was no competition from malls and shopping centres out of town. The lanes and passages in the CBD were also interesting but I limited myself to the Arcades. The Arcades will probably disappear as the buildings in the CBD deteriorate and eventually be replaced. That is inevitable but at least they have been recorded.

    | Reply


    • Shanala

      I remember that Ajmeri Arcade had one of the best record shops in Durban . All the long players for the Black artists such as the Mahotella Queens , Steve Kekana , the Flames . I think the owner also owned another shop called Raj Music in Raj Arcade just off Grey Street . Years later I bought a Flames CD and noted that the distributor was Raj Music .He promoted quite a few Black artists of yesteryear. I used to spend all my pocket money at these 2 record shops in the 70s and 80s. There was also an optician in Raj Arcade . Unsure if it is still there . I quite enjoyed your summary on the different exchanges. Then is also Shiraz Arcade which connects Victoria and Queen streets , named after the state of the art cinema built by the Rajab family in 1970s and also Lockhat arcade connecting Queen to Commercial road which housed lots of fabric stores and home to many Indian garments. The cinema closed some years ago but remember that every new movie on circuit would be screened there with queues of moviegoers extending the full length of Victoria street and into the arcade .

  23. Mercia
    | Reply

    Selwyn Sklarchik who owned the Three Monkeys and following that, the Press Club, is still in Durban. I think that he has a Coffee shop in Umhlanga Rocks.

  24. caroline nathan rozentvaig
    | Reply

    In the 60’s there was a little popular eatery called the Matador.It was famous for it’s cheese blintzes and they also served steaks like tornado Rossini(steak cut in the middle and stuffed)and carpetbagger steak.Which arcade were they in?
    They later closed down and moved to the side street of the Playhouse in a much bigger premises called the Troubador but it did not do well.Both were run by Ivor Kissen

    • Ilana Silverman

      This was a fun walk down memory arcade!!!! I remember the great ambience of The Troubadour..a great place to listen to the likes of Des and Dawn Lindberg and Gary Bryden to name a few! The music sounded so great in that space:) Delicious coffee and superbly creamy cheese blintzes sprinkled with cinnamon and garnished with whipped cream. I remember Ivor very well:) Lovely to reminisce about Durban!!

    • Wendy Jackson-Hill nee Jacobs

      What an amazing and so interesting walk down memory lane! I was born in Durban -Mother’s Hospital in 1945 and lived in Durban until 2003 when we left to live in UK. I absolutely loved Durban, went to Speech & Drama lessons with Vere Webb in Colonial Mutual Bldg once a week and always went to the Wimpy Bar at OK Bazaars Smith Street side for a burger or a waffle! Loved the Matador Restaurant too, also Fenton Inn, Friars, The Hacienda and a charming little Portuguese restaurant in one of the Lanes off Smith Street. Sadly on each of my trips to Durban I have seen the Beloved City deteriorating and on my last 2 visits my hosts wouldn’t even drive me through Durban- so very sad that what was once such a beautiful City is now so run down. Thanks for reviving all these wonderful memories.

  25. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Caroline
    In 1968 Directory, Matador Coffee Bar listed as at No 8 Chancery Lane. Chancery Lane ran between West and Smith Street. It was one up from Greenacres Passage heading towards the Berea. The side street to the Playhouse where the Troubador was located is Albany Grove and I well remember the Troubador run by Ivor Kissen. After the late show at the Playhouse the crowds used to descend on it for a late night coffee and cheese blintz. Strangely by 1968, the Troubador no longer existed as it is not listed.
    If you remember Durban well, in the early 60s, the CBD was littered with small tearooms, coffee bars and small restaurants many people patronising their favourite.

  26. Richard Holmes
    | Reply

    Am I correct in saying that the Matador was the first with a cappuccino machine?

    It was a great coffee bar and pretty upmarket for its time

  27. caroline nathan rozentvaig
    | Reply

    Where was the Press Club-It was also a very popular place run by Selwyn Sklarchik.
    The Three Monkeys was started by Rolf Haase and I think Selwyn bought this popular coffee shop from him.The Three Monkeys had heated thick needles (like fingers)on which were placed the hot dog rolls and then the hot dogs were put inside.The rolls were never cut.We used to go on a Saturday morning have a coffee and smoke those thin coloured sweet tasting cigarettes from Mozenbique.Anybody remembers them?They were in pastel colours for the ladies.

  28. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    The Press Club was in Salisbury Arcade. As you entered from the Smith Street side, on your left, a few paces in, an open area had been created which was the Press Club. If I recall the back walls had large prints of newspaper photos. The area abutted the open space in the arcade where there was a small garden and stairs leading to the upper level shops. Again vaguely recall the tables were round with black bentwood chairs. I would say the Press Club was roughly late 70s era not before.

    Three Monkeys in 1968 was in African Life Arcade. It then at some stage moved to the Nicol Square Parking Garage Pine street side, roughly diagonally opposite the back entrance of Woolworths.

    Regarding those cigarettes. I remember them being about half the thickness of a normal cigarette and shorter. Why does the name Venus come to mind?

  29. Tony de Wijn
    | Reply

    Hi Gerald,

    I may be wrong but I seem to remember 3 Monkeys starting out in Smith Street opposite Parry Road and Barclays Bank somewhere near what was then the Smith Street entrance to OK Bazaars. It could even have been just around the corner in Field Street. Please correct me if I am wrong.

  30. Tony de Wijn
    | Reply

    Hi Gerald,

    I have Googled 3 Monkeys and I was horribly wrong and you were, of course, right.

    Tony de Wijn

  31. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    “Gnat, my boy, never buy a megaton bombe”.

    Tony, good to see you on FAD. Why not give us some of your memories from the 60s?
    Reminisces from school days at Glenwood? Racing Mini Cars was it at Hoy Park? Clarence Duffy (Duffield?) was the main opposition? Free wheeling down Burman Bush Drive in the Mini with feet up on the dash!

    Tony de Wijn and I go back over 50 years having started our working careers together. My opening comment is a remark made to Tony many years ago and has always been associated with him. Gnat was his nickname.

  32. mel
    | Reply

    Hi Gerald,

    There has been quite a lot of discussion here on Murchie’s Passage, and I’d just like to mention that I worked there for a number of years from January 1958 at the little shop Recorded Music Specialists, directly opposite the very dusty car park behind Barclay’s Bank. We specialised in the classics; what was then known as light music; popular vocals and jazz. Next to us was John Shepherd’s sandwich shop – I don’t recall its name but it’s on the tip of my tongue… We all had to move out and find new premises when the old building was demolished in around 1963, I think.

    Does anyone remember Don Albert’s Record Bar? I think it was located in London Arcade.

    On a separate topic, I remember that Theo Shippey taught for a short while at DHS (I was a pupil there from 1954-1957).

  33. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Mel,
    I did not know the original Murchie’s Passage too well but was there not a cake shop / bakery at the Smith St. end, directly opposite a lane going to the Esplanade called Bay Passage? Recorded Music Specialists I only remember being in Field St. next to the side entrance to Stuttafords. There was also a card shop adjacent I think. Rather vague memories. You have got me on Don Albert’s Record Bar. I looked up the 1968 Directory and Don Albert is not listed.

  34. Richard Holmes
    | Reply

    Anyone remember Neil’s Mens Hairdressers?

    They were afaik the first to break away from the traditional barber shop into the salon type environment

    The reason that I ask is that I recall that they first opened on the first floor of a building in the original Murchies Passage – would have been about 1964/5 I think

    Can anyone confirm?

    • Gerald Buttigieg

      Hi Richard,
      1968 Book of Words says: Neil & Co. Mens’ Hairdressing 1st Floor Chancery Buildings. Chancery Building in Chancery Lane off 422 Smith Street. Must have been a small building as First Floor: Neils Hairdressers 2nd Floor Fiona Rodel Academy of Dancing.
      To position Chancery Lane for you , picture Greenacres Passage looking from the Smith St end towards West St. On the right was Greenacres shop windows showcasing furniture normally and the exit doors of Greenacres onto Smith St. On the other side of the passage was Continental Outfitters, then Court Pharmacy , then The HUB Extension. The HUB did not run down the side of Greenacres Passage as Greenacres did. There were other shops on that side. However The HUB did run from West St to Smith St with the extension kind of offset from the main shop. The HUB extension sided Chancery Lane. On the other corner of Chancery Lane was Cotts ,William & Co. Shipping Agents.

  35. Tony de Wijn
    | Reply


    I remember Recorded Music Specialists very well. They gave excellent service and advice. They would also order any hard-to-find LP’s for customers. RMS was about the only place in Durban where I could find a stylus for our Grundig HiFi.

    Tony de Wijn

  36. Richard Holmes
    | Reply

    Thanks Gerald

    Yup I remember Chancery Lane well – I was a habitue of the Matador mentioned earlier in this thread

    I don’t doubt your reference in the slightest but even though memory dims I am reasonably sure that they started off in the old Murchies.They must have moved to Chancery Lane but I am sure I did not visit them there – they did subsequently move to Parry or Hermitage Street before folding

    • Gerald Buttigieg

      Hi Richard
      I am not doubting your memory just indicating that in 1968 they had moved to Chancery Lane. Unfortunately I do not have a range of Durban Directories only two, one dated 1938 and the other 1968. What happened in between that 30 year gap is over to you folks who were around then as I cannot categorically say but have to rely on my memory. As well remember, many people read these posts so where I expand on a person’s post as I did in my reply to you, I do it as an aside so that those who cannot remember Chancery Lane will have their memories refreshed perhaps.

    • Stephanie Miller

      No Richard – my uncle Ivor Kissin opened the Matador in Chancery Lane – it was never anywhere else prior to Chancery Lane, and a few years later he opened Picasso’s next door. Both were sold when he opened a Restaurant in Albany Grove called The Troubadour in the late 60’s. The Troubadour was in the same road as the “67” .

  37. William Paterson
    | Reply


    Your ‘Lanes’ piece sure did strike a chord for so many of us!
    I see that Gandhi had a small office in Mercury Lane before he went back to India for the first time. He used to walk to work from his house in Beach Grove every workday.

    Not quite in the ‘Lanes’ box, but has anyone any memories of a building off Smith Street? It was a kind of ‘Micro Burlington Arcade’ with a tiled courtyard overlooked by (I think) two stories accessed by open corridors of iron work. The balustrade ironwork incorporated a Star of David motif. The roof was glazed and the courtyard ended with a short turn to the right. The building was called Anglo something. Walking on the open corridors made the whole building shake a little.

    • Gerald Buttigieg

      Hi William,
      I think you have asked about this building some years ago. I have no recollection at all of such a building. I have looked up any buildings which had Anglo in their naming in the 1938 Durban Directory. There is only one Anglo-African House at 317 Smith Street. How many floors this building had I cannot say but there are 29 tenants listed. Now 317 Smith Street is not shown in the 1968 directory so 317 must have been demolished in the interim. However this building would have been in this block between Durban Club Place and Devonshire Place:
      Durban Club Place
      315 Standard Bank and Norwich Union House
      319 Protea Assurance Building
      321 Protea Assurance
      323-325 South African Reserve Bank
      Devonshire Place.

      Sadly it would seem anyone who would remember this interesting building would be very old today.

  38. caroline nathan rozentvaig
    | Reply

    Please unsubscribe’s enough

  39. William Paterson
    | Reply

    Gerald. Thank you for the input on Anglo-Africa House.
    Strange that so little is known about the place.

  40. Mike Kamionka
    | Reply

    Hi William,
    A little info I picked up on the Web!. Hopefully it is the the building you are referring to.
    Keep Well,

    Anglo-African House
    Durban, Kwazulu Natal

    Design Architect
    VEALE Harry George

    Date: 1901-1904
    Type: Unknown
    Status: Unknown

    Writings about this Anglo-African House

    Hillebrand, Melanie. 1975. Aspects of architecture in Natal, 1880 1914. Pietermaritzburg: Unpublished MA. Dept Fine Art and History of Art, University of Natal. pp 209.

  41. William Paterson
    | Reply

    Thanks for that Mike. Yes. definitely, that was the building. Pity that Melanie’s MA remains unpublished! Extraordinary that so little public info remains. There was an apartment on the top flooor overlooking the courtyard. It was alleged that the woman who lived there used to pour water over courtyard pedestrians way below during full moon.

  42. Hannah Lurie
    | Reply

    Gandhi – Mahatma, had chambers in Mercury Lane. He shared with Advt R.K. Khan after whom the R K Khan Memorial Hospital is named. He acquired the land for the hospital. I was commissioned to make the portrait bust of Advt. Khan & it is in the foyer of the RK Khan Memorial Hospital in Chatsworth

    • Gerald Buttigieg

      Hi Hannah,
      Welcome to FAD. I cannot recall you posting before. Thanks for that info . I came across an artwork of yours at the Lady Chapel, Catholic Church in Westville.
      Regarding the RK Khan Memorial Hospital, I recall attending to the PABX there when the hospital was relatively new in the mid 1960s.
      I have access to a 1938 Durban Directory and looked up Khan. I came across this interesting little bit of information: RK Khan Hospital and Dispensary Trust 439 Smith Street and 138 Queen Street. Probably the forerunner to the eventual hospital in Chatsworth. I could not find RK Khan’s name amongst the Advocates and Solicitors of that year.

  43. Hans Hallen
    | Reply

    I recall the old club arcade: it had excellent red brick and faience
    facades: open an airy walkway and leading from Smith Street to the Durban

    Hans Hallen
    formerly of Durban, designer of Centrum park, Tongaat-Huletts building.
    BMW building etc

  44. Darrell Price Jones
    | Reply

    My wife and I purchased a second hand piano today. I was wondering how old this piano might be. On the side the words “P E Cooke & Co Durban” are enscribed. I believe there was a company in Hooper Lane operating under this name some years ago. Does anyone know any further information. Would love to know.

  45. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Darrell,
    P.E. Cooke & Co. was a well known Durban firm specialising in pianos and organs and correct they were in Hooper Lane which was the lane that ran from West to Pine Street alongside the Payne’s Building. I looked them up in the 1938 Durban Directory and they were listed there as piano importers and operating at 21 Hooper Lane. There was also a Miss E. Cooke a musical teacher with a studio at 12 Hooper Lane so I would not be surprised if she was not related. In the 1968 Durban Directory they are still listed and still operating at 21 Hooper Lane and indicated as Pianoforte and Organ Specialists with the following makes advertised: Monington, Broadwood, Schimmel, Petrof, Otto Bach, Welmar Chorister, Lindner and Baldwin Organs. P.E. Cooke and Co. are not listed in the latest Durban Telephone Directory so I would doubt whether they are still in business.

  46. Phil
    | Reply

    I lived in Durban from 1976 – 1984 where I found the best Spare Ribs ever @ The Golden Egg, 320 West St. To this day I have never tasted better.

  47. Tony de Wijn
    | Reply

    Hi there Phil,

    The ribs used to be on special for 99 cents in the early 70’s (instead of the usual R1.25). I remember the “JJ CALE” music tape they often played. Good times. The Golden Egg Grill was run by a guy called Nigel who later moved to RJ’s near the intersection of Old Fort Road and Marine Parade. His partner was shot dead in a robbery and I believe Nigel emigrated soon after.

    • Shanala

      I remember the Juicy Lucy at 320 West street . They sold the best fresh juices and baked potatoes and cheesy toasts – still can taste the hot sticky cheese with it’s savory bits . They moved to the Pavillion but unsure if they are still operating. There was also a boutique at 320 called Indigo which sold unusual women’s wear – loved their stuff but could only visit on sale days. I think that Do Do was replaced by Scott’s shoes and clothing . London Arcade had the Anglo Swiss Bakery I think where we headed to after shopping with the best cakes and cookies.

  48. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    I am not sure how this photo came to me but it shows the Three Monkeys Coffee Bar when it was situated in the African Life Arcade. I would say this photo was taken in the early 1960s. You can see the ceiling of the arcade and on the left the dispaly boxes I mention in my memories in this posting.
    Three Monkeys Coffee Bar African Life Arcade

    • Joan Mills

      A a teenager I worked at Stanley Motors in Soldiers Way & on pay day the big thing was to go to 3 Monkeys for there CHEESE ROLLS ! ! ! They were but only the best !!!
      Also lower down past Woolies was another dead end arcade that had a Coffee Bar that use to open on Sunday evenings that was absolutely great & was a very big hit with my sister, a friend & myself. This was like in late 1963 & into 1964. I think the owner’s name was ROBIN with her hubby.It was very popular & always packed to the hilt on Sunday nights. We were very lucky with my Father as he would take us into town so that we could go & then the 3 of us would catch the bus back to Umbilo. That is how my sister met her husband as him & a friend followed us home. Am still in constant contact with that friend & every time I come out to SA, our favourite catching up place is Mitchell Gardens for Brunch & I promise you quite often we are there for almost 4 hours chatting non-stop. They can’t complain about how long we are there because of the exchange rate I always foot the bill & we are eating, drinking non-stop. It’s fabulous doing this & I’m only sorry that this last trip I wasn’t tip top when I left Ireland, was sick twice in S A & came back still not well & said while I was there that it would be anything from 3 -5 years before I came again.
      One of the comments I must pass is that I was pleasantly surprised at the ambience & never experienced any problems in the 7 weeks while all over Kwa Zulu Natal as well as different parts of the ‘OLD’ Transvaal which absolutely delighted me.
      The other thing that did make me a bit heart sore was not being able to find some places & also that things were so expensive now out there for those that still live there. I did a fair amount of comparisons but the 1 thing that absolutely shocked me rigid was that a pound of Butter was R90.00 whereas here in Ireland I pay 2.19 euro although our petrol is a lot more than yours, 1.45 euro in the area that I live & multiply that by the exchange rate R16.00 to one you will then see what I’m talking about.
      So lovely to read & chat on this site & wish to Say a big
      THANK YOU TO GERALD for maintaining it. xoxo

  49. Allan
    | Reply

    I just found this thread, I left Durban in 2000, I ran out of money and went to Seattle. I learned about hard work back in the USA. I didn’t realize how easy I had it in Durban but times were changing. So now, 15 years later I got back into the model rail road hobby and tried to look up Track & Trestle, I believe in Salisbury Arcade. I only found that it was closed and Carl Peters died the year after I left. I was really saddened by that and wonder what happened. I also tried to look up Peter Hope, another model train guy. Any info would be great. Thanks.

  50. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Allan,
    Yes Track and Trestle is no more. It was as you say situated in Salisbury Arcade if you remember you took the escalator to the first floor and there it was. If you recall there was a shop window facing the escalator and in the front of the shop window was an LGB loco that kept going to and fro in the front. Carl Peters passing was very tragic and happened some years ago. If I remember correctly he had a son who was a promising tennis player. I did not now Peter Hope but possibly you recall Frank Graham and George Knatten who were very regular customer’s at T&T. From what I understand there is a model train outlet in Westville on Old Main Road.

  51. Bev Nelson
    | Reply

    The Matador was still in Chancery Lane in 1971 – their cheese blintzes were very popular with students!

  52. David Baird
    | Reply

    Murchies Passage: My sister worked in Eagle Building for LTA Construction (Let’s Try Again, or, actually, Lewis, Thomas and Associates). The lifts were just off Murchies Passage. LTA built 320 West Street and were one of the first tenants to move in when it was completed. The Wimpy was split level – in fact there were three levels. Best Wimpy in the world, bar none. And there was a music shop, called Barrie’s Music. I used to buy my guitar strings in there, and have kept a guitar pick with the logo on it for many years.

    David Baird
    Dumfries, Scotland.

  53. Gail Briggs
    | Reply

    I grew up in Durban/Westville, my late dad – Len Briggs was a sales rep, Topaz handbags, Kels Underwear, Flair shoes to name a few. My late mom, Doris Briggs ran the office whilst he was traveling. They had offices in Paynes building then moved to CNA Building in Smith Street. After leaving school, I worked in the accounts department of John Orr’s for nearly three years – 1974-1978. I have thoroughly enjoyed all these stories and shared memories. My parents would have loved them too. Does anyone remember Peter’s Pancake Palour – they too served the most delicious Cheese Blintzes. I loved sitting at the coffee bar in west walk passage watching people going by.

  54. Garry Smith
    | Reply

    Thanx for the input from everyone. I grew up in Durban and used to love walking through the cities arcades in the 70’s. My Dad (although not a closet gay) used to buy his clothes from Batchelors. He’s 93 years old now and probably still has many of those suites in his cupboard gathering moss. Another Men’s outfitters was Woolfsons. I had a holiday job there. There was another trendy men’s outfitters in Smith St. near the Hub. The guy who owned it drove a silver Ferrari Dino. The Golden Egg in 320 West St made the best spare ribs. Good Times for a Bluff Boy!

  55. David M
    | Reply

    How interesting Garry. I was a store manager there in the early eighties at Woolfsons but I had bought the odd item from Bachelors. I have great memories of the arcades in the seventies. There was a charm that cannot be repeated again. Especially on a Saturday afternoon and Sunday when they were closed and you could walk through and window shop. Do you remember the shoe shop in London Arcade if that is the right one where they had very diverse shoes. It was called Italia I think . Alot of very way out platform shoes etc.. I saw alot of stars buying from there such as Rabbit if you remember them. I think it was owned by the guy who owned Slack rack. The Bachelors suits were outstanding. And I agree that you didn’t have to be a closet gay to love style.

  56. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Garry and David M. I remember there being two Woolfson stores in town. One in West Street, Chester House and the other also in West Street but opposite the West Cemetery. The one opposite the cemetery suffered a big fire and was gutted but cannot remember the year that happened. Just to confirm my memories and to place Chester House that was 388 West Street next to T.W. Griggs bookstore. The other store was at 521 West Street and if I recall was a sort of triangular building with Alexandra St behind it. There were four other branches. Corner West and Union Street, corner Soldiers Way and Commercial Road, Glenwood Centre in Moore Road/ Hunt Road and at the North Beach Shopping Centre. The ad for Woolfsons states ” Connoissseur …. hand tailored apparel designed and created by Woolfsons”.

  57. David M
    | Reply

    Thanks for your reply Gerald. I became a trainee manager then there relief manager for Woolfsons in the early eighties. I enjoyed my time there having moved from Markham’s. I started at 388 branch at Chester House for some time and then moved to 521 at the top as manager. What I remember about 388 was that it was haunted. A Tailor had died on site in the sixties and I had had a couple of experiences whilst there. Also the alarm system kept going off at night and I didnt go alone to check the store. The lift was something out of the Bygone days.
    These were great days and as a teenager my folks took me to 521 branch and they bought me what seamed a couple of pairs of Angel flight pocket less pants which were the rage back in the late seventies. I never thought that one day I would be manager there even though it was on an occasional basis.
    I also worked at Outfitters as a teenager. A strange shop with some strange employees I remember.
    Do any of you remember Cyril s Wardrobe ? Cyril himself owned Woolfsons.

  58. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi David
    You have got me with Cyril’s Wardrobe. I take it Cyril’s surname was Woolfson? Outfitters I remember being near Salisbury Arcade. I looked up Chester House in the 1938 directory and it was there then. It was full of seamstresses and dressmakers. From what I have gathered dressmaking was big business in those days, the lady folk having their own individual dress makers. Dressmakers went by single name “Nom de plumes” and this went on till the late 50s. My late mother I recall had her own dressmakers, one was “Alice” in Valbro Chambers. My mother would buy the material and the pattern and take it to Alice.
    I also looked up Woolfsons in the 1938 Directory and they were operating then as Woolfson Brothers, Outfitters, 34/36 Stamford Hill Road.

  59. Karen Ward
    | Reply

    Cyril”s surname was Shewitz (sp?) and not Woolfson. I used to live next door to the Woolfson chap but I cannot remember his name.

    • Jeryl Stevenson

      Dear Karen – Jeryl Stevenson (nee Dunwoody) here. I was sent this link some time ago, but only read the arcade article not the posts at the end. I was just re-reading some old mail and read to the end for the first time today. I left SA in 2009 and live permanently in UK with my English husband. Sadly the old Durban we knew is no more. My Mom bought my first pair of high heel platforms for me in the 1970’s from “Up and Down the Stairs”, a trendy two storey fashion shop on the Smith street corner of Murchies Passage – and a floral print maxi dress. I remember you well. One of the prettiest and cleverest girls in our class !

    • Paula

      Hi Jeryl
      My name is Paula I worked for your mum and dad Ester and Gerald Dunwoody around 1973/74 in the office at Bachelors.
      I remember you and your brother and sister your parents were so lovely to me and my husband as we had just arrived in Durban from London.
      I remember we had some great party’s at your house for all the staff and that your brother John had opened
      another shop I think selling denim clothing in another arcade.
      I left in the end to go to live in Brazil for a while and now live in Australia but I remember the fun times in Durban like you say the Durban we knew is long gone very sad

      Hope you are enjoying UK.

  60. David M
    | Reply

    Hi Karen. That is right. He , or his company purchased the Woolfsons name from the family. He lived in Joburg but came down on occasions. He had his store on Smith street just across the road from what was Game at one time virtually next door to OK. It was a High Fashion store that was Way out if you know what I mean. Incredibly expensive. I never went in there for anything it was way beyond my budget. The gear was totally outrageous. I do remember some names there at Woolfsons. The group manager was Phillip Curtis. At the 388 store a Mr Levy was the store manager I think, There was a Mrs Black and a Mr Gilbert. And I remember a Alec Bartlett. He was a British guy. Of course Cyril s eventually became another Woolfsons while I was there.

  61. Mike
    | Reply

    I think this is the Cyril Shevits you are referring to ?…….

  62. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Thanks Mike for that. Interesting how this Woolfson’s story has developed and looks like your link is the closing chapter. Going by the latest Durban Telephone Directory I do not see Woolfson’s listed so I take it there are no Woolfson’s outlets anymore. I maybe wrong.

  63. David M
    | Reply

    Thanks Mike. Yes That was Cyril. What amazes me in the early eighties he must have been in his early to mid fifties and never looked it though. I remember them all saying that he was friends with Barbra Streisand and a few others. And I now Remember that he did have a store in California as well. I worked at Woolfsons in the early eighties before starting at Woolworths. Cyrils Wardrobe had totally way out attire I remember. The store was in Smith Street virtually next door to OK,, I think. I was in my late teens when it was there and never went in as the clothing was on the pricey side. Of course it became a Woolfsons as well when I was there with the same Team of staff. Iam amazed that Woolfsons disappeared as it was very successful as I was a manager and we always did better than previous years, but as we all know that trends in the CBD of Durban changed and Different shops opened catering for a different client. They could have moved to Musgrave though I guess. It has been good to reminisce here though. Does anyone have any pictures ?

  64. Claudette Irvine
    | Reply

    HI Gerald
    In the first posting of the Arcades ,it mentioned the Natal Business College I attended College there ,I cant remember the teachers name she was a Miss,very strict,we would have to line up on the corner of Henwoods Arcade and wait for her to come down,we would all be chattering and laughing but the minute we heard that elevator stop ,there was silence ,along she came with her walking stick,would check how we were dressed,no low cuts the dress or blouse had to have sleeves in not you had to wear a mini skirts,and about 6 of us at a time going up to the top,so many of us would get a hit on the head with her stick if any talking when not supposed tobe,We would do shorthand listening to her music which was on an old Phonograph,
    Also on the corner of the arcade on the West street side was a candy shop,as my dad used to always stop in and buy Rock Candy for us,

  65. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Claudette,
    Interesting reminiscences from an era now bygone. What years are you reflecting on? I looked up the 1965 Durban Directory and see that the Natal Business College occupied both 6th and 7th floors of the building. Sweet shops in those days were listed as Confectioners and I found the one you mention on the corner of the arcade listed as Honey Pot Sweet Shop 340 West Street. Henwoods Arcade is listed as 342 West Street so that would be the one. Imagine teachers hitting pupils (sorry learners) with sticks on their heads these days!

  66. claudette
    | Reply

    Hi Gerald,
    I went to college in 1960,just remembered the teacher we had was Miss Morgan,I often say to my kids these headaches I keep getting are from the hitting on the head from a walking stick,I sit now and smile to myself thinking about Miss Morgan’s strictness there at College,
    Thankyou for the name of the Sweet shop
    Much appreciated

  67. Nick Vetter
    | Reply

    Hi All,

    Quick question. I was fortunate enough to grow up in Durban in the 80’s and 90’s. There used to be these hot dog stands on south beach in Rutherford street close to the Four Seasons hotel and the Lonsdale hotel ( my mom used to work at the Lonsdale) – they never cut the bread rolls – they had these hot iron pins that they used to stick the bread into. Those were the BEST hot dogs I have ever had – and was wondering if anyone can remember them? Name etc?

    • Allan Jackson

      The last time I saw one of those machines was at Oscar’s in Hillcrest. The owner Selwyn Sklarchik had used it when he operated the original Three Monkeys coffee bar. Here’s a picture of a similar machine.

  68. Laura Shiels
    | Reply

    I’ve never been to Durban, but stumbled on this site when I was looking up the history of Palmer Square in Princeton, NJ, USA. I thought the comments were delightful and read them all.
    It reminded me of conversations I had with my father and still have with contemporaries about Silver Row, located now only in the memories of those of us who lived in Falkirk, Stirlingshire, [Scotland] before the area was demolished to make way for rather nondescript shopping areas. Even the remnants in old graveyard we’re dug up and relocated one town over.

  69. Wendy Jackson-Hill nee Jacobs
    | Reply

    Fond memories of those hot dogs- sorely tempted to see if those machines are still available on-line.

  70. Gary Nielsen
    | Reply

    Hi my name is Gary Nielsen and my dad (Leif Nielsen) owned a small jewellery/watchmaker shop in Westwalk arcade during the mid 60’s. The shops name was Nielsen’s Jewellers. Does anybody remember it? If so
    contact me at

  71. Dennis Bradbury
    | Reply

    I have a Victorian postcard in my possesion addressed to a Mr.M.S.Bartlett N.N.V.( natal native volunteers ?) of Woodroffes Passage,Central West St.,Durban requesting the number of the rifle in his possesion(unanswered),would you have any information on this individual or which conflict he might have been involved with?,regards Dennis.

  72. Michael Cross
    | Reply

    Back in the ’60’s, I used to live in Durban and well remember The Matador Coffee Bar but it’s always bugged me that I’ve not been able to find any reference to it despite the numerous searches I’ve made on the net over the years. I knew where it was, just up the road from Greenacres, left down a little alleyway and it was on the right. Thank goodness I came across this site which finally concluded my long search. Could never remember the name of the alleyway or the proprietors of the coffee bar but I recall that, every now and again, they’d have, say, a couple of guitarists playing there and perhaps a singer or one of the guitarists perched on top of a couple of ladders. Everybody there would join in the singing, sometimes folk music, sometimes kwela music from the Cape too … nothing loud or raucus but it created such an incredibly warm & cosy atmosphere. I made so many friends there like “where everybody knows your name” and yes, their coffee was brilliant and I’m sure I was there when they had their cappuccino machine too. Very, very fond memories. Finally, my thanks to everyone here for allowing me to read and enjoy your comments and I hope that my memory hasn’t let me down too much whilst writing this. Michael.

    • Joan Mills

      Was not the Matador owned & run by IVOR KISSEN ??? he was quite a flamboyant character & if my memory is right was also involved in different productions as well. His niece is still alive & well & living in Durban North I believe & her family ?? SON ?? runs a laundromat/ dry cleaners downtown somewhere. Unfortunately my sister no longer lives in Durban North so doesn’t bump in to her anymore.
      & you are quite right about a restaurant called
      O Pecador
      can’t remember too much about it as it wasn’t one of our favourites in those days.
      Happy hunting

  73. Gerald
    | Reply

    Hi Michael
    Thanks to the many contributors over the years, there is quite a lot of arb information about Durban on this site. It is always pleasing to read that the site is able to clear up matters that “bug” one from time to time. From my 1965 and 1968 Durban Directories, there were two buildings down Chancery Lane. One was Chancery Building, which appears to have been three floors. Neil and Co Men’s Hairdressers were on the first floor and on the second floor was Arlene Spear School of Ballet and later the Fiona Rodel Academy. The second building was Stone Building which had one floor above street level. The tenants were Barbour and De Wet Land surveyors. The Matador was at No 8 along with the Walsh Marais Art Gallery and Picasso’s Restaurant. Sadly those good times have gone but the melody lingers on.

  74. Wendy Jackson-Hill
    | Reply

    I have so enjoyed reading everything on here- thank you to the contributors. Wonder if anyone can tell me the name of a wonderful Portuguse restaurant that used to be in Mona Road, food was delicious especially the Crab, the Owner/Waitress was called Maria and the tables always had red and white Gingham cloths, really dring me crazy trying to remember the name!

  75. Gerald
    | Reply

    Hi Wendy,
    My first thoughts of a Portuguese Restaurant if I remember correctly was of one called O Pescador or something like that but I cannot be definite about that. However I looked up Mona Road in the 1965 Directory and no restaurant listed. However in 1968 at No 6 Mona Road corner to the Victoria Embankment (Esplanade) was the Ole Espana Restaurant. From that name not Portuguese.! Ring a bell?
    I remember Mona Road from when I got overseas parcels sent to me. The Post Office had a Customs Office in Mona Road and once a parcel arrived you had to go and collect and clear it with Customs. A card was sent to your address informing you. The Post Office collected the Customs charge amount based on what was sent and the value. Only once did I have to open the parcel for them to check on the contents. Lindsey Griffin was the name of the PO Customs official.

  76. Wendy Jackson-Hill
    | Reply

    Thanks Gerald, you may be right about that name but it doesn’t ring a bell in my old brain!
    Yes I remember going to collect overseas parcels from Mona Road, a vey reliable service back in the day

  77. Gerald
    | Reply

    Hi Wendy,
    It always helps if you give an approximate year with queries. Another restaurant name that came to mind later was Lusitania. Mona Road was quite obscure in my time with small businesses on the right going down to the Esplanade. I do recall though a small apartment building called Bulawayo House as well as the PO Customs on the left.
    As an aside, whenever a street name comes up which I know little of I look it up in my “Origin of Durban Street Names” book by John McIntyre. Interestingly enough he lists it as Mona Place not Mona Road. He states that the origin of the name is unknown but George Russell in his book, “History of Old Durban” records that Edward Kermode a resident of Durban in 1850 owned the land and laid off Mona Place. Apparently he was a baker. So it was one of Durban’s early streets.

  78. Keith Titmuss
    | Reply

    Hi Wendy,
    Is the name of the restaurant in Mona Road not the “D’ora Mar”?…..not sure of the spelling, but remember having the most wonderful meals there many years ago…..real peri peri prawns and chicken.
    Hope this helps,

  79. Wendy Jackson-Hill
    | Reply

    Thanks Keith but that isn’t sounding familiar

  80. ismail kajee
    | Reply

    hi wendy

    i think the restaurant in mona road was called O Cacador

    it was next to the post office

  81. Wendy Jackson-Hill
    | Reply

    Thanks Ismail a couple of people have said that so thinking it must have been

  82. Brian Webb
    | Reply

    My father’s step mother owned a cafe in Castle Arcade called the Rendevous Cafe. This must have been in the 1930/40’s and possibly into the early 1950’s. Does anybody remember it or have any information on it.
    I grew up in Durban in the 1950’s and 60’s and recall all the arcades mentioned so it has been very nostalgic to recall the shops and sites of the times. Henwood was a favourite shop especially the sports and hobbies sections. I recall the cricketer Eric Dalton use work in the sports section. Thanks for sharing the memories.

    • Gerald Buttigieg

      Hi Brian
      I have a 1938 Durban Directory which is an interesting “history” book. I looked up Rendezvous Cafe and found Rendezvous Tea Room not in Castle Arcade but Brunton’s Arcade. This is a new arcade to me and was at 407 West Street. 407 West Street is listed as West Walk in my 1965 Directory so it looks like Brunton’s was demolished and replaced by West Walk. I looked up Castle Arcade but no Rendezvous Cafe there. That is not to say it was not in Castle Arcade at some point in time. West Walk was the arcade where Bachelors had there shop and speaking of Clem de Gaye I was at school with him and his brother Ronald (?) at St Henry’s.

  83. Wendy Jackson-Hill
    | Reply

    I agree Brian the memories stirred up by reading these lovely postings are amazing. I was born in 1945 so don’t think I would ever hVe gone to the Rendevous Cafe but what a nice name. I used to love Henwoods, my monthly treat after I started work at the Standard Bank was to go there to buy an LP record every pay day! They had a nice restaurant upstairs too.

  84. Brian Webb
    | Reply

    Thanks Wendy. I was born in 1951 and remember the arcades well. I worked in Greenacres boys wear in Dec and Jan holiday of 1967/8 for the princely sum of R29! Then followed up in 1970 on Saturdays in the same dept for R5 a Saturday morning.
    I recall Batchelors well as my mother insisted I needed a suit to start out working life after discharge from the army despite the fact that I was going to college to study further. Bachelors was the place to go to for hip suits then and possibly Clem de Gay sold me (or my mother) my first suit!
    Now in my retirement (or twilight years!) I am doing family research and my father often spoken about his step mothers high class cafe in castle arcade. Maybe someone out there has some information but I guess it is a long shot.

  85. Brian Webb
    | Reply

    Thanks Gerald this is very interesting. My fathers step mother owned two tearoom/ cafes both in Arcades in Durban. I tend to think he may have been a bit confused which was where and would therefore agree that the Rendevous was in Brunton Arcade which out of interest I do remember. He was however clear that she owned a cafe in Castle Arcade as he showed me as young boy where it had been. I still have some of the Spode China from these cafes/tea shops.

    • Gerald

      If you can indicate the surname of your father’s step mother I can look it up.

  86. Col Thane
    | Reply

    Gabriella’s tea room in one of the Arcades. Can’t remember which one. Made lovely hotdogs and real coffee.

    • Joy Jones

      Hacienda Restaurant in one of the Arcades in the 80’s was our Friday lunch favourite …. always packed!. I think owned by Mr & Mrs Rabinowitz? Anyone have memories to share of the restaurant. Also used to frequent Peters baked potato/pancake Parlour in the 70’s after ballroom dancing lessons I think somewhere in Smith Street.

  87. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Col,
    Gabriela’s was in the Mutual Arcade. Not an arcade as such if I recall but the entrance to the Old Mutual Building. Virtually directly opposite the Cenotaph in Gardiner Street. It has since been demolished and is now a multi storey parking garage. The arcade had the lifts that serviced the building and the the upstairs Old Mutual offices. My late aunt actually worked in Gabriela’s Curio and Gift Shop. I think there was a link to Gabriela’s Coffee Hut. In the arcade as well was a men’s hairdresser as well as a ladies’s hair salon.

  88. Patrick (Paddy) Gates
    | Reply

    Gerald, thank you for jogging some tired brain cells. The fashion piece of the Arcade history really struck home with me. I did not see any mention of a store named Bryan(Brian?) B, owned by Brian and Val Beat which was popular in the late 70s and still so when I emigrated to the US in the early 80s. The store was located downstairs at 300 Smith street, between Mercury Lane and Gardiner Street and sold trendy collections like Harvey Rothschild and Vog. I befriended Brian and Val who ended up offering me a part time job at a time that I had zero clothing experience other than being a customer. Little did I know that this part time job at age 21 would change the course of my life. I fell in love with the business and thanks to Brian and Val’s mentoring – ended up with a job offer from Allan Gee (Durban’s finest men’s store on Smith and Field Street, to open a new store with them in Houston Texas). I arrived in Houston in 1981 thanks to the Goldman’s (Allan Gee), Brian B and some good fortune I was able to enjoy a successful career with the most prestigious retailers in America and culminating in being named President of Discovery Communications (Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, TLC etc). I was never able to connect with Brian or Val again (I hear they divorced), but owe them a huge debt of gratitude. If anyone has any information on them, it would be greatly appreciated…

  89. Gerald
    | Reply

    Hi Paddy
    Well I am glad my script has refreshed your memory of Durban as it was. Unfortunately I do not have a Durban Directory of the late 70s so cannot relate whether the clothing shop still existed. I personally do not recall the shop itself. I vaguely remember Allen Gee being just a little up from the corner of Smith and Field Streets. The wheel of life turns in mysterious ways and obviously took the right turn for you.

  90. Paul MCarthy
    | Reply

    I remember vividly working in Nash Music in Sanlam Arcade from 81 onwards…I was a mad new romantic/punk back in those days…anyone else remembers Nash Music? it was THE place to be on a Saturday!!

  91. Melville P. Lawrence
    | Reply

    I am looking for more info regarding Raj Music. They recorded a dance band from the Cape in 1967/8 called THE CONQUERORS. Looking for a copy of the album. It has a lady ( blonde ) sitting in a bamboo chair on the cover. The edge of the cover is orange. Some of the band members were Wallace Solomons, Edgar Cupido and W. Anderson.

    Any info is welcome.

  92. Neil Gould
    | Reply

    What was the name of the arcade in the now demolished Old Mutual bldgs . The portuguese Barbar Shop, a coffee shop and 2 elevators with 2 very short old european men driving the lift. My dads Dental surgery was on the 10th fl.

    • Joan Mills

      Was there not a doctor’s rooms there aka
      Dr Harry Lazarus & possibly a paediatrician heart specialist Walter Disney (weird but as far as I know no relation to the USA one )
      This was in about 1954/1956 or 7
      Dr Lazarus I don’t think had any children BUT his nephew HARRY MILLER joined him in the practice & then they moved to the Old Mutual building I think where Jules Frankel joined them & later on they moved to DURDOC centre. Dr. Lazarus used to go to America every 2 years to catch up with the latest methods etc.

    • Gerald Buttigieg

      HI Joan
      I looked up Dr Lazarus and correct he and Dr Miller had rooms at 906-907 SA Mutual Buildings. I find no reference to Dr W Disney at all. I find a reference for Dr J Hellman as a dentist and not a doctor. None of these doctors appear in the 1965 Durban Directory.

    • Joan Mills

      Oh Gerald that you mentioned Dr Hellman has certainly brought back some memories ! ! ! My mother use to pay him a pound a month to look after my sister & my teeth ! ! ! Every 6 months very great trauma as it involved a VISIT to the DENTIST ! ! ! ! I can remember on one occasion biting himas he had hurt me ! ! Another time fighting with him as he was trying to stop me from sucking my thumb & would always tell me I would end up with BUCK teeth if I didn’t stop so every visit I would show him the slight overbite I had & nothing like what he had predicted ! !
      Another thing about Dr. Hellman is that it was his son, ALAN, that started GAME after returning from several years in the USA.

      Mr Walt was a paediatrician/cardiologist & that was in the buildings on the corner of West & Gardiner Street from what my memory serves. You have to forgive me if I’m wrong as I’m going back about 65 years now ! ! I think this was before Dr.. HARRY MILLER RE-LOCATED.
      If you looked up a directory it would have to be between about 1953 & 1956

  93. Gerald
    | Reply

    Hi Neil
    Mutual Arcade in the SA Mutual Building. Tenth Floor Rooms 1000-1002 Dr Malcolm Gould Dental Surgeon.

    • Joan Mills

      Did he have a partner called Dr Hellmann ??? as I use to go to him as a small child!
      If yes then Dr. Hellman’s son Alan started GAME Discount World when he came back from the USA ! !

  94. Neil Gould
    | Reply

    Correct Gerald

    | Reply

    Re Walter Lemm
    When Walter arrived in Durban around 1948 he worked at a secondhand furniture shop in Pine Street, at the Soldiers Way end, and sold a boxes of “junk” which included a circuit and parts to make a crystal set with ex military headphones for 10/- shillings.
    Later he opened radio and electronic parts shop in Soldiers Way at the city end.
    His final shop was down West Street where he met a friend of ours. He left for New Zealand and Sheila later followed him there in 1962 where they married.
    In later life Walter was very involved in Letterpress printing and ran a successful business from home printing a range wedding cards and other products.

  96. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Patrick
    I checked the 1957 Directory and quite right A 1 Radio was at 11 Soldiers Way. I knew A 1 Radio only when it was in West Street virtually opposite the present SARS Building. That was from about 1956. Later A1 seems to have changed hands and it moved to larger premises where it now stands in Umgeni Road not far from the Argyle Road intersection.

    • Graham Horn

      Interesting… I’m not 100% sure that A1 Radio Services today was formerly A1 Radio, but their current website says they were established in 1964. Aa a teenager, I bought components at A1 Radio in West street in 1962 or maybe even 1961 and then they were already well established.

    • Gerald Buttigieg

      Hi Graham
      I checked the 1957 Directory and the address for A1 Radio is given as 11 Soldiers Way. In the 1958 directory A1 Radio is listed as 134 West Street. I seem to recall Joe’s Snooker Saloon was upstairs. I remember buying Philips OC71 transistors from A1 in West Street and I think that was in 1958. OC71s had just come out on the market then and Philips had produced a circuit book indicating what you could do with them. I think the shop was sold when it moved to Umgeni Road. Do you remember a place called Goldblatts at the bottom end of Smith Street that had huge stocks of WW2 radio equipment. You could rob any parts and pay Mr Goldblatt.

  97. Maureen kok
    | Reply

    Hi thanks I have been going through the arcades of Durban and the comments I am trying to find something on a building in west street it was opposite the Woolworths and colonial mutual in that area. I feel sure the building was called colonization chambers the entrance had marble stairs. My aunt had a dressmaker business upstairs at the end of s passage. There was an iron fire escape that went down to the back of florist that was in a lane going through to Smith Street
    Many thanks if you can help .

  98. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Maureen,
    I checked my 1938 Durban Directory and you are right. Colonization Chambers 357 West Street virtually next door to Murchie’s Passage. There were many dressmakers in Durban at that time and they went by their names or nom de plumes. In Colonization Building these are the ones listed in 1938: “Chloe” , “La Coquette”, Marcelle Rougier, Miss E Sommer and K A Zenker. Not sure of the period you are talking of but these may ring a bell. The “lane” you talk of was Murchie’s Passage never called Murchies Arcade as I recall.

  99. Maureen Kok
    | Reply

    Hi there so much appreciate this I put it on the Durban down memory lane site on Facebook and nobody remembered the building, they kept mentioning colonial mutual building. My aunt did move there but I can’t remember the year. I would think she was in colonization chambers in about the sixties. Her business was called Milday’s nothing to with the chain store. I do appreciate your response I think people think I have gone mad but I remember the building so clearly thanks again

    • Maureen Kok

      Hi again
      do you perhaps have a picture of Colonization Chambers. I wonder what it is today. My aunt’s name was Mary Harrold and as I said her business was called Milady’s.
      Many thanks

  100. Wendy Jackson-Hill
    | Reply

    Very interesting to read the reply, I don’t remember that building at all but so good that Maureen has got the answer to her question. Durban must have been an amazing place in the old days

  101. Neil
    | Reply

    To us it is like reading about places in history hundreds of years ago, the enchantment, the colours, places, people, resorts, beaches restaurants, snack bars, the foods and atmosphere. I am sure there is no other place in the world that captures these memories other than perhaps for Tom Sawyer:-)

  102. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Maureen,
    I do not have all the Durban Directories I would like to have, but am fortunate to have a few which are a great help in queries like yours. I have 1938, 1957, 1965 and 1968. These cover a period when Durban went through changes and one can trace some events. Colonization Chambers appears in 1938 and again in 1957 but in 1965 the site 355 West Street is indicated as ” new premises building” so it must have been demolished in 1964/5. In 1968 the site is indicated as Eagle Building but not allocated a street number but it adjoined Murchies Passage. So that would have been the site of Colonization Chambers. Eagle Building stands today. Back to 1957, in rooms 14-15 (probably the first floor) there is indeed “Milady” so you are quite correct. Checking Harrold in the alphabetical section there is only one Harrold listed and that is H.W. living at 84 Hillside Road Sea View. Dressmakers are no longer listed so cannot trace “Milady”.
    I do not have a picture of Colonization Building but it would have been in close proximity of Cuthberts Building and there are pictures / postcards of that part of West Street. Hope this helps.

  103. Maureen kok
    | Reply

    Thanks so much Gerald for all this info very much appreciated. My aunt moved to colonial mutual building so that must have been when colonization chambers was demolished. Wish we could turn back the hands of time sometimes to appreciate what we had. My aunt’s daughter couldn’t remember the building at all and she is a bit older than me so it’s going to be fabulous to share this with her. Many thanks again

  104. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    I have found a photo which I will post in due course.

  105. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Maureen,
    Here is a picture of Colonialization Chambers found in the late Ian Morrison’s Book : Durban a Pictorial History. If you find a copy and like old Durban buy it! The building is not named directly but I deducted from the 1938 street addresses what building was what. So from your right to left: You see a portion of the WM Cuthbert Building with only the “:W” visible on the parapet. This was the well known Cuthbert Shoe Store at ground level. Next to it is the Barclays Bank Building which many fought for it to be preserved but it was demolished. Then next to it is Murchies Passage leading to Smith Street. Then comes Colonialization Chambers with Blaikies occupying the ground floor. They occupied the premises in 1938 as well. Looking at the picture I would date it as mid to late 1940s from the cars. I think that successfully answers your query.
    Colonialization Chambers West Street

  106. Maureen Kok
    | Reply

    Hi there
    Thanks so much for all the effort you have gone to for my query. It’s absolutely fascinating! I will definitely look for the book you suggest. I remember now that Colonization Chambers was not a tall building. I will be sharing all your information with my cousin.
    Many thanks again, much appreciated.

  107. Belinda
    | Reply

    Belinda’s contribution was so evocative that we moved it to it’s own post here.

  108. Jim Hovell
    | Reply

    Gerald can you help, my wife worked for a Mrs Dickman in Howdens Florist in1977. The shop was in one of the passageways between Smith & West Streets and i think between Field & Gardener Streets, any help would be appreciated. Loved reading some of the threads above brings back a lot of fond memories. Thanks

  109. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Jim
    Unfortunately I do not have a Durban Directory of that era. The last one I have is 1968 and I have looked up Howdens in that book. Howdens address is given as 407b Smith Street. This lies between Salmon Grove and Beach Grove and the frontage was Salmon House. Salmon Grove ran down to the Esplanade and at the end was the Royal Natal Yacht Club on the left hand side. 407a Smith Street was Cliff’s Pharmacy and at 409 was the Capri Tearoom Cinema which was one of those that repeatedly showed a film and you could enter at any time. Now all this is rather removed from what you have stated in your query but I give it for what it is. By the way Howdens had a nursery in Westville at 19 Norfolk Terrace and L Dickman lived at 18 Westville Rd Westville. There is also a ER Dickman at 15 St John’s Avenue off Clark Road Glenwood. The only two Dickman entries.
    Getting back to your clues the main arcade between Gardiner St. and Field St. would be Salisbury Arcade and this ran from West St through to Smith St. Close to the West Street entrance was Adams Bookshop which may be a marker to remind you of location. Now I do recall a florist shop being in Salisbury Arcade but it was rather small in size. In the 1968 Directory, a florist did exist at 12 Salisbury Arcade and was called Florette and Goodyear. Perhaps this business was taken over by Howdens but I am speculating here. Just for interest I looked up Howdens in my 1938 Durban Directory and they were operating then at 353 West Street. So a long established Durban firm. As a final fling I looked up Howdens in my 2017 Durban Telephone Directory and they are still operating but have now moved out of town (for obvious reasons) and are operating in Musgrave Road on the Berea. Let me know if this has been of any help.

  110. Tina Kleyn (aka Katsougris)
    | Reply


    My dad owned the Dragon Tea and Coffee shop in the 70’s and he owned the mens boutique called Papouti For Men. I too visited Durban recently and was so sad to see how unrecognizable our town is now. My late dad was Panayoti Katsougris (known as Peter).

  111. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Tina,
    If I remember Dragon Tea and Coffee House was in Salisbury Arcade. Dragon painted on the window in Red and black? Papouti rings no bells.

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