Da Gama Clock Update


Most Durbanites are familiar with the Da Gama Clock which has stood on Victoria Embankment for many years. It has been in a sorry state for many years and was extensively vandalised but the city, thankfully, is now doing something about it. Our informant Martin Prange from the municipality Urban Design &  Landscape Planning department at the City Architects wrote in yesterday:


The vasco da gama clock has been dismantled for refurbishment under a MOU between the museums and Royal Natal Yacht club after the clock was severely vandalised – the Samson Figurine and the brass plaques were removed for scrap metal. It was decided that the clock would be temporarily moved to the Royal Natal Yacht Club as a sponsored/ supported initiative between the Municipalities Museums Department and RYNC and some of its members under the leader ship of Willy van der Vere.

The VDG Clock has been dismantled and sandblasted, missing pieces are be sand-casted of aluminium by one of the involved members. The octagonal plinth has been recast at RYNC in readiness for the structure to be painted and reassembled. The intention is to relocate the VDG Clock in a controlled environment for “safe Kkeeping” at RNYC until such time as the Point is developed and the VDG clock be relocated then to its final resting place.

Martin also wrote about other projects he was involved in:


  • I have also just completed the refurb of the tram shelter at the top of Florida Road – removed the Malthoid shingles which replaced the original corrugated iron roof and reinstalled an aluminium corrugated roof. The intention is to get a storyboard together of Durban Transport History and to erect it adjacent to the tram shelter to create a place of interest within the UIP – urban management site.
  • Relocated the “Lady in White” statue from the Ocean terminal building to the Maritime museum – busy getting a storyboard together on that.
  • Assisting the museum in erecting a storyboard on the Ovington Court Wreck.

The Da Gama Clock was produced by Walter MacFarlane & Co. at their Saracen Foundry in Glasgow where they made a wide variety of components that could be mixed and matched.  We have a page on the site devoted to the clock and Currie’s drinking fountain which also documents a number of similar structures around the world with slightly different components. There’s no telling why Samson was included in the Da Gama clock in the first place but it’s good that he’ll be replaced. It’s a pity that action wasn’t taken before the clock was vandalised but at least it didn’t suffer the same fate as a similar structure in in Ireland which was almost totally destroyed in an IRA bomb attack and had to be recreated.

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7 Responses

  1. Alex Verhagen
    | Reply

    So pleased to hear that the VDG clock is being restored. Furthermore, it is also pleasing that it will be re-erected in a safer & more controlled environment.
    Thank you to all involved in the prevention of our historical monuments becoming naught more than memories!

  2. Magda Zakrzewski
    | Reply

    So glad some really wonderful people are caring for Durban’s old treasures! The colonial past produced some amazing architecture and artifacts. It was there with the wide verandas and cocktails, the easy life for the elite. The privileged few however. But nevertheless the icons are priceless so glad someone admires and cares for them.

  3. Graham de Kock
    | Reply

    Well done Willie,Martin and the rest of the team. As others have said, Durban has a rich and diverse cultural heritage. It is important that it’s unique features and artifacts are preserved for those who follow and care about our roots.

  4. Graeme
    | Reply

    Another thank you to all involved in saving our Durban heritage.

  5. g j ainsworth
    | Reply

    thanks so much , i remember when it was located at the end of the trolley bus lines near the end of Point Rd. psr keep this FAD site going. well done to you.

  6. Ron Pet
    | Reply

    Someone also needs to look at the bus shelter at the top of Alan Paton (McDonald) Road. It should also be restored and protected.

  7. Liz Edwards
    | Reply

    How wonderful that this is being refurbished. History is for keeping. Blessings to all of you who devote your time skills and finances.

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