The New Umgeni Interchange.

For those Durbanites now living in other parts of the world and who left before this project was completed you may wonder what the finished product looks like. Also, the older Durbanites who knew this area from the 60/70s will admire this engineering feat. It took a long time coming but knowing the intersections, it was badly needed.

umgeni interchangeClick on picture to enlarge.

My earliest memories of this “crossing” goes back to the late 1960s when I was working on PABX Maintenance for the Dept of Posts and Telecommunications. There were three of us technicians then who were responsible for all the PABXs outside the Durban Corporation Telephone Exchange area which was bounded by the Umgeni River, the Umbilo River, the Indian Ocean and Ridge Road. All areas outside that were serviced by the Dept P&T.

At that time the vehicles we used were Morris Mini Minor Vans, not the most comfortable in Durban ‘s heat but they were nippy and you could weave in and out of traffic at times. I recall that our Workshops had made up metal air scoops which were rivetted to the doors so as to improve the ventilation. The doors only  had half sliding windows and the air intake was minimal. On the roof an opening flap was fitted to further improve the ventilation.

I must add that it was regulation then, that as we were in contact with business people we had to wear collar and tie unless of course you wore a Safari Suit which was all the rage then. As there were only three of us and the area we covered stretched from Stanger down to the Illovo Sugar Mill (now moved to Eston) and inland as far as Shongweni , there were no defined areas each of us covered. It was merely a case of reporting at a fault, fixing it, and phoning the office to be told which was the next urgent job. You could be at the Beverley Hills Hotel at Umhlanga and the next fault was at Elgin Engineering in Jacobs. I must say we were always gladly welcomed by the switchboard operators on arrival as they had to take the flak from the staff until our arrival.

This criss-crossing of Durban in a day’s work got you to know the short cuts from A to B and one of them was Quarry Road which in those days was a single two lane road alongside the Umgeni from the Springfield Flats and wound its way through the bush ending up at the entrance to Clermont in New Germany. Reservoir Hills had just started to be developed then so the road was not that well known but did make a shortcut from Durban to Pinetown.

I cannot recall the names of the roads in that area but remember driving past an Indian Crematorium. Reflecting back to those years, Quarry Road virtually started where the Britannia Hotel is, past the Old Quarry site and headed up to the New Germany area. The roads coming from Spaghetti Junction (the EB Cloete Interchange) came later.

This clear picture shows the area as it is today. What I know as Quarry Road is still there as a multi-lane highway now heading up past Reservoir Hills and Westville North to Pinetown. The roads from 45th Cutting and Spaghetti Junction which were put in place in later years when that interchange was built, are now diverted over and under and link the South and North Coast highways with a diversion to link up to the N3 route to Pietermaritzburg.

Looking at the development of the area and what I recall of it. Top centre and I stand to be corrected, the vast open area is the Bissessar (spelling?) land fill site which is accessed by the road with the row of trees. The green roofed complex in front of that is a technical college . Otherside the row of trees is the Municipal Stores and Electricity Depot. This if I recall correctly, was moved from the old Alice Street site in central  Durban which the city had outgrown.

Beyond that is the Makro complex  as well as the smaller Springfield Value Centre. These must date back about 25 years now!  In the background is the Old Quarry site covered in trees. On the left hand side is the other shopping complex and industrial park. Just above the intersection one can see a residential area and in the background the large squatter camp that has been established there. I have not been there recently but below the residential area it appears that a huge retaining wall probably made of loffelsteins had to be built.

The value of the contract was Rand 512 million and it was opened in June 2015.

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3 Responses

  1. William Paterson
    | Reply

    Magnificent pic of a great piece of roadway engineering! During WW2, Quarry Road was named after the quarry on the left of the winding road. A shareholder was a Mr Migliorini (sp?) whose family lived in Goble Road. When Italy declared war, poor old Migliorini was detained – despite the fact that his son was in the SA Air Force and up north. The authorities eventually allowed him to return to his quarry. There was also a quarry on the other side of the river on Riverside Road.
    Umgeni Road terminated at (slightly down a slope from) Mr & Mrs Morse’s store which was subsequently taken over by a Mr Moosa. There was also a small post office nearby. It was the site of the final tram stop / terminus, a stone’s throw from the railway level-crossing which was closed off with booms and red winking lights, operated from the signal box, whenever the Zululand steam-train was to pass. The railway then curved to the right to join the railway bridge over the Umgeni.

  2. William Paterson
    | Reply

    What ever happened to the Umbilo Road Power Station? FAD doesn’t cover that for the moment

  3. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi William,
    Yes, the old Congella Power Station deserves a post on its own here on FAD. However Eskom have done an excellent job in recording the history of the power station and here is the link. There are plenty of photographs on the site as well.
    All I remember of the old power station are the two chimneys that stood out like spires. The suburban trains used to pass by the power station and you had a view of the power station as you passed it on the old South Coast Road before the Southern Freeway was built. Another example of the growth of Durban. If you think when the power station was built at the time, its location was considered far enough away to not be a nuisance. The West Street Cemetery was also considered to be at an appropriate distance out of town. Then there was Howard College built on an isolated area on the ridge.

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