End of the road for iconic Beach Hotel

 

I was quite surprised to see this one line entry in the Natal Mercury announcing the closure of what must be one of the iconic hotels on Durban’s beachfront. One would have thought that the imminent closure of the Beach Hotel would have been considered a bit more newsworthy.

But Durban is changing and the CBD is no longer what it used to be. I suppose with the economy as it is, the tight margins to keep hotels going in these tough times is having its effect. I have no information on the Beach’s Hotel past history but from old postcards and photos it would appear that it may have been the first beach front hotel of them all. As it was the Beach front was known as the Back Beach for in the early days the beach was actually the “sandy shore” along what is now the Esplanade. The present Beach Front apparently was a series of high sand dunes which in time were levelled when the development of the shipping wharves became a priority and the “beach front” on the Bay had to give way.

I have managed to gather a few pictures of the Beach Hotel as it transformed over the years. I remember it as the single storey with the long verandah and the big sea facing gables. Then the redevelopment of the corner site it stood on into a multistorey building that it is today. One wonders what its future will be. More student accommodation like its not too far off neighbour down West Street the Lonsdale Hotel.

Click on the pictures to enlarge.

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7 Responses

  1. Graeme
    | Reply

    What a sad state of affairs. G..wizz… That place is a landmark of our Durban, South Africa. So glad I had many a good time there in the 60s and 70s. How very sad. Anyone know the reason for the closure???

  2. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Graeme
    Unfortunately where I am I do not get the paper everyday and the Sunday paper content at R25 a copy is not worth the paper it is written on. Whether The Beach Hotel is going to be converted into student accommodation I am not sure but that does not bode well. The Lonsdale Hotel apparently has been converted and if my memory serves me right there already has been a fire and a murder on the premises. Payne Brothers Building I hear has been taken over by one of these firms that repurposes old buildings and the interior has been changed into flatlets. This must have cost a pretty penny to provide bathroom facilities as if I recall the building was originally office accommodation.

  3. Donald
    | Reply

    The memories is all we have left of what was once a beautiful and clean city which has now developed into filthy decay with no management from the city fathers.
    The Golden Mile is now the Filthy Mile so the hotels which cannot operate in such an enviroment will one by disappear or become decadent dives as has happened to the Lonsdale / Metropole / Four Seasons and many others.
    I wish I could have posted something positive but that was impossible to do !

  4. Richard Leeflang
    | Reply

    Hi there Graeme and Gerald sad to hear the the Beach Hotel is no longer going to be used as a Hotel. When I was many years younger I was very lucky to get a Glimpse of Niel Armstrong the First Man on the Moon, who came walking down the stairs of the Beach Hotel with a whole crowd of people. There were lots of flags hanging outside, don’t know if he stayed at the Hotel or if he had been there for a Conference. Just thought I wanted to share this with you Guys . It was around the 1980 s when he visited . I was born in Durban have not been back in Ten years. Live in Cape Town now. Regards Richard

  5. Mark Lowe
    | Reply

    Sadly, not only has the Durban beachfront changed but so has the quality of journalism and of newspapers like The Mercury. Once a fiercely independent and newsworthy title, it now is just another Iqbal Surve propaganda rag. No wonder important events like the closing of this landmark hotel was given so little attention. Neither the publisher, Editor or reporter is remotely interested in this story. For shame.

    • Gerald Buttigieg
      |

      Hi Mark
      I cannot agree with you more. I grew up with The Mercury, the Daily News and the Sunday Tribune. All three papers are now just a ghost of what they were and stood up for. The Sunday Tribune has become collection of articles garnered from overseas news agencies or local articles so badly investigated they are not worth reading. The other ploy in the Tribune is to add half page pictures to fill the gaps. As for the cartoonists I doubt whether they have an idea of what a cartoon is supposed to convey. The fact that names have to indicated on the caricature is indicative of the ability of the cartoonist to actually draw. No wonder there is a crisis in journalism and its demise is being predicted.

  6. graeme
    | Reply

    Lets hope they keeps something of the Beach Hotel. Even its a piece of the original building. Lockdown is slowly relaxing. maybe someone with bucks will keep it going. U cant kill history. Love live Durban.

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