The Iconic Coca-Cola Neon Sign on the the Fairhaven Hotel.

 

Coke Sign : Fairhaven Hotel
Coke Sign : Fairhaven Hotel

Michael Kamionka sent me this picture of the Coca-Cola neon sign which was mounted on the wall of the Fairhaven Hotel facing the South Beach. Anyone who had ventured down to the beach area at night would have seen this Durban icon which I am led to believe was the largest neon sign in the Southern Hemisphere. I stand to be corrected but I seem to remember the radial rays that circled around originally were straight lines whereas on this photo they are wavy. I seem to recall this happened when the sign was revamped but as I said I am not sure of this.  Someone may be able to verify this and also have information as to when it was first installed, something about it size etc. Thanks for the photo Michael.

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13 Responses

  1. Rodney Coyne
    | Reply

    Our family lived on Fairway, Durban North in the late 50s and we could clearly see this sign from our house at night – a source of amazement to a young teenager!

    PS :I think that Fairhaven was supposed to be the tallest skyscraper in Durban at the time -all of 18 stories , I think it was.

    • Wikus
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      My Father James Coetzee working for Claude Neon put up this sign in the would love to own it one day. Wikus Coetzee

  2. Ian Jackson
    | Reply

    I remember the sign was switched on New Year at midnight but cant remember the year.

  3. Jacoba Magrietha Meyer
    | Reply

    Thank you very much for this iconic sign.
    I lived with my Granny in 54 Silver Avenue Stamford Hill Durban, and at night we could clearly see this Coca-Cola sign. We even watched it with my Grandpa’s binoculars, which made it even more special. My Grandfather was part of the Snakepark building team. His surname was Ferreira.
    Thank you.
    Grieta (Herbst) Meyer

  4. H.C. Scheerder
    | Reply

    We were married in Pietermarizburg in January 1963 end spent our honeymoon at the fairhaven hotel. We had a fantastic fortnight at the place and enjoyed strolling along the beachfront swimming, relaxing and dining at the XL tearoom. We remember the morning kiddies show, right on the beach in front of the XL.
    The Coca Cola sign on the Fairhaven. We remember very well.
    In those days Durban was a safe place to go out and enjoy oneself even at night.

  5. Derek Austin
    | Reply

    Now that you mention it the neon tubes were straight in the beginning and not wavy as shown in this photo.

  6. Brian Pretorius
    | Reply

    I remember that neon sign very well. As we left late night “sessions” When you reached the Coke Neon you turned left to go to the XL Road House or right to go to Point Road if you were still willing to rave on at Smugglers.

  7. Brian Pretorius
    | Reply

    At Guy Fawkes time a bunch of us, under the weather, camped across the road and fired aboyt 30 Sky Rockets at the Neon. I’m sure we hit it a few times but scattered when the police came speeding with sirens going looking for a group of men with rifles. They never found them….

  8. Rob Timmerman
    | Reply

    Hello all, My late Dad was at sea with Royal Interocean Lines in the ’40s and 50’s before coming ashore in Durban in 1960. He told me that seafarers on board ships used to see this sign clearly from out at sea and that it was one of the beacons they used to announce arrival at Durban. I can remember as a little boy when we used to walk along the beachfront at night looking at it and often being mesmerised by the swirling, was always curly. It used to swirl like a propellor, then stop, then swirl in full colourm and then the coca-cola sign used to flash, and then repeat. Wonderfuil memories.

  9. Garry
    | Reply

    Has anyone got a video of it working at night?? If so please post.

    • Paddy Browning
      |

      Garry, Paddy Browning here. I found a ‘live rotating snippet’ of the iconic landmark within the video at the link below, 2 min’ 45 sec’, those were the days/daze indeed, keenly missed, fine memories they do still feed.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmgJUzs4hqU ‘Step back in time on Durban’s Golden Mile’

      See my FAD surf down memory lane contribution to the topic below (and at this link https://www.fad.co.za/2013/09/14/tp-response/).

      Here’s a response from Paddy Browning to an article by Tim Pullen. He wrote:

      This post relates to Tim Pullen’s entry on the 12th December 2010, “Reminiscences from Tim Pullen”, regarding the COCA-COLA rotating advert on the side of the Fairhaven Hotel, its image being visible via my south-facing bedroom window (number 23 Danville Avenue, just up from Virginia airport). I drifted off to sleep every night through the ’60s,’70s and early 80s, with its image whirring its gentle way around and around, the COCA-COLA image “disappearing” and then reappearing in the bedroom window, as the hundreds of tiny neon lights that made up the image were turned off and on.

      My bedroom window was also my wind direction guide, as a westerly wind would cause the bedroom curtain to billow inwards and an easterly wind would result in the reverse. As a surf-mad youngster, the curtain blowing into my bedroom was often an early weekend morning signal for me to gather up my surfboard and towel and head off to one of the beaches along the Durban beachfront.

      Thanks for an excellent website, Alan.

    • Paddy Browning
      |

      Garry, Paddy Browning here. I found a ‘live rotating snippet’ of the iconic landmark within the video at the link below, 2 min’ 45 sec’, those were the days/daze indeed, keenly missed, fine memories they do still feed.
      www dot youtube dot com/watch?v=SmgJUzs4hqU ‘Step back in time on Durban’s Golden Mile’
      See my FAD surf down memory lane contribution to the topic below (and at this link https: // www dot fad dot co dot za/2013/09/14/tp-response/).
      Here’s a response from Paddy Browning to an article by Tim Pullen. He wrote:
      This post relates to Tim Pullen’s entry on the 12th December 2010, “Reminiscences from Tim Pullen”, regarding the COCA-COLA rotating advert on the side of the Fairhaven Hotel, its image being visible via my south-facing bedroom window (number 23 Danville Avenue, just up from Virginia airport). I drifted off to sleep every night through the ’60s,’70s and early 80s, with its image whirring its gentle way around and around, the COCA-COLA image “disappearing” and then reappearing in the bedroom window, as the hundreds of tiny neon lights that made up the image were turned off and on.
      My bedroom window was also my wind direction guide, as a westerly wind would cause the bedroom curtain to billow inwards and an easterly wind would result in the reverse. As a surf-mad youngster, the curtain blowing into my bedroom was often an early weekend morning signal for me to gather up my surfboard and towel and head off to one of the beaches along the Durban beachfront.
      Thanks for an excellent website, Alan.

  10. Brian Pretorius
    | Reply

    I found a daylight photograph of the Coke neon. Not sure if this was the original or a later model.

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