Sad News about Durban Iconic Building.

 

I know many Durbanites who now live overseas do visit this site and I suppose it is appropriate to let them know of developments in the once fine city centre. This article appeared in the Sunday Tribune this past Sunday and it is sad to note that the doors of this fine and iconic Durban building are closing in August. Sad news because the CBD is getting tattier as time goes by. Many CBD building are standing empty with TO LET signs all over them. One worries that they become economically unviable and with rates to pay they fall into disrepair. For old buildings like Greenacres it sometimes is the death knell.
In the same paper there was an article on how Albany Grove has deteriorated and to remind you, Albany Grove runs down the side of the Playhouse. I am sure most Durbanites my age either queued up in Albany Grove to buy tickets or parked their car in Albany Garage for a Saturday night movie. Click on pictures to enlarge. You can also Save the Image to your computer and this will enable you to read the print.

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25 Responses

  1. graeme
    | Reply

    Flippin sad really.
    Gerald, what plans do the so called Durban council have for this building….demolish or rebuild???
    Is that hotel on the corner next to the Playhouse still operating??

    • Brian Hurt
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      The Mayfair hotel,it is still open.

    • Esther
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      Are you thinking of the Albany Hotel? Yes its still on the go or was the last time I looked , its a 3 star! They had just done it up in its Art Deco finery! Have a look at its website:http://www.albanyhotel.co.za

  2. graeme
    | Reply

    Hi. I see no response to my above questions. I assume nobody knows. Tks

  3. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Graeme
    I have seen nothing so obviously at this stage things are still in the air. However Edgars the present tenant are not doing too well commercially and I suppose does not appeal to the passing trade that now have taken over the CBD. Not so long ago I did a nostalgic walk through town and what a difference. The shop I bought my wedding suit in 1970 is now a butchery! Salisbury Arcade was 95% To Let. I doubt whether the CBD will ever recover the vibe it used to have. All the old buildings will probably fall into disrepair, crumble and will be flattened. When you think about it that is what happens. How many fine old buildings were demolished in the name of progress and I suppose the same will happen here.

    • Ronald Moonsamy
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      Durban CBD is going to be like the Jhb CBD. A no go area for us South African citizen. Building are going to be hijacked and crime is going to spiral out of control

    • Esther
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      You are a brave man taking a walk through Durban! As far as Greenacres is concerned, its not half the building it once was – neither inside nor outside. Its been “tinkered with” considerably. Its very sad but it is a bit of a relic from another era. So hard to see how it could fit into the squalid sort of shops the current system seems to favour, mostly conducted on the pavements. I suppose it also represents an era which is neither valued not appreciated by the present generation. However if the past is not preserved in some forms, it will speak volumes about the mentality of the current generation to future generations.
      We look back at all those beautiful buildings which were demolished in the past and say …how could they? But it will be just the same in the future.

  4. Adrienne
    | Reply

    I live in Britain now and London high street and many towns are going through the same fate. It is a global problem

  5. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    You would not recognise West and Smith Streets now.

    • Brian Hurt
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      Gerald I dont have your contact details,did you hear about Dereck Akal?
      hope the spelling is correct

    • Gerald Buttigieg
      |

      Hi Brian
      Yes I did. Strange how the wheel turns. Three weeks before Derrick passed away, my daughter organised a surprise brunch for me in Umhlanga inviting a small bunch of my old friends. Who did she organise but Derrick and his wife Barbara. Now I had not seen Derrick for some years so we had a lot of time to reminisce and catch up. We had promised ourselves that we would get together in the near future. Sadly it was not to be. I attended his memorial service. Particularly sad is that Derrick lost his younger sister Cheryl to cancer about 3 months previously. I knew his family rather well. Thanks for thinking to tell me.

  6. David Vickery
    | Reply

    In the early 1960’s I worked for Johnson & Johnson in Hooper Lane On the ground floor was a tiny sandwich shop run by an ex army cook or baker and next door across the first floor landing was a Scottish fellow “Mac” who was an engraver.
    Some of our deliveries used to come by rickshaw.

    • Gerald Buttigieg
      |

      Hi David
      I remember the engraver as when I went to the Army I had two St Christopher medals engraved there. It was a done thing in he 60s for you and your girlfriend to wear a St Christopher medal those days. I looked up Engravers in my 1965 Dbn Directory and there he is H.G. R. MacMillan 12 Hooper Lane. I tried to trace the sandwich shop but there was no indication except a shop named Stephanie.

  7. David Vickery
    | Reply

    Regarding the Mayfair hotel I remember the resident band band was run by the pianist, Tom Cherington.

  8. David Vickery
    | Reply

    Hi Gerald, regarding your comments on the engraver in Hooper lane.Initials H G R, the H I think stood for Hector but was known as Mac!!! He had a broad Scottish accent.
    Cheers,
    David.

  9. Nyony Kinton
    | Reply

    Towards the end of the sixties my husband and I worked at the Daily News on the corner of Field and Pine street, where the Globe Hotel used to stand. The bar was the Silver Quill frequented by journalists. We regularly walked to the steakhouse restaurant at the Butterworth hotel for a meal. We wouldn’t do that today. We haven’t been into the centre of Durban for about 35 years.

  10. Nyony kinton
    | Reply

    Do you remember the XL tearoom on the beachfront. They served you in your car. As did Tropicale in Albert Park. The Grand Tearoom stood at the top of Berea Road. They used to do a lekker mixed grill. They are all closed now. Does anyone remember the Piecart that stood in Pine Street.

    • Gerald Buttigieg
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      I think there is comment about the XL on this site. Do a SEARCH.

    • David Vickery
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      Certainly remember the pie cart, used to hook up to a lamp post outside the railway station. I also remember when a car drove into the pie cart knocking over a friend of mine who was busy eating his supper there. Whilst totally uninjured the resultant impact blew him out of his shoes which remained intact exactly where he had been standing!!!!!!

  11. ivan
    | Reply

    was derrick akal any relation to patrick akal, when i was at marist brothers school in the early fifties, there was quite a large family of akals, i believe that one of the akals became a head teacher of the school in later years.
    i can remember manie bloom being at micks pie cart quite often when we used to go there late at night, usually after a late show or drive in cinema. manie used to run with a bunch of bananas at rugby matches to cheer for the banana boys as the team was known. what memories this site brings back, thank you gerald

  12. Syd Oram
    | Reply

    Anyone know when Derrick Akal passed away? We were in the same class at Northlands. He was a great chap and (deservedly) well – liked. The same goes for Eddie and Maurice. Maurie was a small guy but was fearless on the rugby field. On one occasion we were playing for a junior NHSOB side against Collegians, and were getting thumped. Maurie got the stone needle after Binkie Kapp (sp?) the Natal lock broke through our back line for the nth time and appeared certain to score. The infuriated miniscule Maurie caught and tackled the giant Binkie from behind, flattening him with an ankle tap! Much to the relief of our team Binkie went off and Maurie was the hero of the day!

  13. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Syd
    I knew Derrick quite well as well as his family. Derrick passed away last year September following a massive stroke. It was totally unexpected. He and I had reconnected after a long break at a surprise brunch and had arranged to get together again but never happened. Eddie and I were in the Army together for the 9 months stint in 1962. I knew Maurice as well as we all attended St Joseph’s Church at Greyville. Eddie died of a heart attack many years ago and as far as I know Maurice is still alive. Derrick and Eddie both attended Marist Brothers St Henry’s but after one term in high school left and went to NBHS. Another defector was Rodney Hartman must have been your era. This must have been about 1956.

  14. Syd Oram
    | Reply

    Hi Gerald. You may be aware that Derrrick was a very successful bodybuilding enthusiast even when he was at school. I don’t know when he gave it up, but it was something he thoroughly enjoyed. The other side of the coin was that at track and field disciplines he was almost as useless as I was!
    I seem to recall that Eddie moved to East London at one stage bur regrettably I lost contact with him a long time ago.
    Rod Hartman and I also were of an age. I don’t recall when first we met but we finished Matric in 1960. Rod was a very competitive sprinter and played wing in the same rugby side as me. He may have been awarded Natal colours for athletics. He was living in Amberfields when he passed on some five or more years ago.
    Finally, I also spent time in that madhouse called the Weermag/Army – October 1962 to June 1963. I started at Tiffie School and then was transferred to Services School in Voortrekkerhoogte before being shunted to 5 SAI Ladysmith from January to June 1963. I was in the NMR for the remainder of my confinement in the asylum.

  15. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Syd
    I knew Derrick in the 1960s was into weight lifting and not so much into body building. He may have changed later. I used to accompany him to competitions at Bellhaven in Greyville. He always doubted his abilities and always spoke of whether he had done sufficient preparation for competitions. He was a quiet but considered person as I remember him. I recall he was awarded his Natal colours for weight lifting.
    Correct Eddie moved to East London, got married and I know he had a son but there may have been other children. Eddie had a younger sister Carmen but she died as a teenager also very unexpectedly.
    Rodney Hartman did get his Natal colours. I have forgotten the name of athletics coach at Northlands but he was well known. Rodney married Nicky Boje? Rodney also passed away relatively young.
    Army was another story. Being in the second intake it was in a way a crude experience. We still had the old style WW2 uniforms and our webbing was also that period. We all laughed initially about the underpants the army supplied called Santa Marias. I think they got that name from their size, as big as the sails of the sailing ships. They were a godsend though, as the worsted material the bunny jacket/trousers were made of caused havoc in the crutch area and this was overcome by wearing the Santa Marias to protect the sensitive area. Ladysmith had just been reopened in 1962 having been laid waste for many years. Our ablution block was corrugated iron sheets and in the last three months I was there Oct to Dec 62 they started building the new brick ablution block. You may have used it during your stay. I have written up a post called Going to the Army and you can find it if you do a SEARCH.

    • Syd Oram
      |

      Brings back memories! NBHS athletics coach was Jim McIntosh, a tiny guy who was an international level weightlifter who brought NBHS through to be one of the best, if not the best athletics school in the country. He trained Vaughan Jacklin, who was selected for the 1964 Olympics, but South Africa was banned at the last minute because of apartheid. Jim came over on a teacher exchange system and stayed for many years before emigrating to Florida. The Old Boys Club had a dinner for him when he came over on holiday, I think in the 90s. Rowan Rasmussen organized it and it was great to sit and chat with Jim, one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. He was getting on by then, but the was as sharp as a new needle. I believe he contracted cancer, and I must assume that he has died by now.
      Those Army uniforms foisted on us were a nightmare. I have a picture somewhere of two of us who climbed into 1 pair of Santa Marias – there still was space to spare! Utterly useless they were, but made good polishing clothes after I finished with the Army.
      As far as 5 SAI is concerned I can still see in my mind’s eye that awful shower with the little slow combustion stove vainly trying to provide hot water for 300-odd sad-assed sollies. And that hideous bucket toilet with rows of holes over which we had to park our behinds. Nothing between us and the wild yonder but a hessian screen which was blown down regularly. No wonder we referred to it as the Ladysmith Drive-in. And when it rained there was nothing to prevent everything, including the loo rolls from getting soaked. You could have sold toilet paper at ten bucks a sheet in summer! The ablution facility was commissioned in March or April 1963 as I recall – what a relief.
      There’s many a story to be told – some hilarious, like the electricians rewiring the corrugated-iron Mess with that table of in the corner where the bread was dumped. No last-in-first out rotation, so the bread at he back stank.

      The anti-tank 6 pounder was parked in an alcove next to the workshop, which was part of the same Mess building and when the popgun team skived off one morning and lay back against the corrugated wall in their sweaty doodle suits, you could have heard the yell 50 miles away. Served them right, the lazy sods!! It turned out that the sparkies managed to mix up the earth and live cables. Luckily no-one was killed.

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