Reader Gordon Forrester left a comment on an earlier post about the 1950s but I thought I would give it its own diary entry because it covers quite a bit of ground and may provoke some discussion. He wrote:
My memories go back to earlier times. I remember the King and Queen of England visiting Durban. I remember an aircraft crash on the golf course near the Durban Club. I remember the Pat Fairfield motor race in 1948. Dennis Cotterall and Basil Beall. It was a handicap. Also the Bluff Motor Cycle races.
The riots in Durban when the blacks beat up the indians, and having our car searched in Clairwood. The Sunday evening movies at Wanderers in Montclair showing hired movies from African Consolidated Theatres using a 16mm projector borrowed from Coca Cola. Even watching African Mirror in the Princes bioscope where i saw myself winning the Durban Centenary Soapbox Derby Championship. I still have my minature replica.
The Oxford, Roxy, and the other continuous bio-cafe that burnt down with Henwoods in West Street, where they served you a green cooldrink or icecream, as you watched the show. I saw ‘To Please a Lady’ with Clark Gable about 5 times one day. It was about the Indy 500.
Nathan Smith’s panelbeaters in Brickhill Road and meetings of the Motor Racing Marshals Association at a brewery hotel on the Esplanade, Riviera, i think. There was even a floating tea-room out in the Bay. You took a ferry from the Gardiner Street Jetty. The trams that did the Berea circuit and trolley buses that had to be connected again when a trolley came off the wires. The Cavalcade War Effort Show in Albert Park, and the Torch Commando with flickering torches outside the City Hall.
Also the visit of Pat Boone to Durban and his shows at the big Icedrome. Hoy Park Speedway with Buddy Fuller, and Stirling Moss at the Westmead Circuit near Pinetown. We even had Skid Kids and a league.
My granny drove a truck for the Ex-Service Woman’s Cartage Company with WW2 salvage vehicles, and Durban had a telephone exchange in Pine Street near the old Mercury newspaper. Grey Street had a delicious curry take-away, and Shimwells had fancy new bicycles. Hercules, Phillips and then the best Raleigh models. The Nursing home near Greyville racecourse and the San on the Berea where my broken neck was fixed. Lovely nurses! Wonderful random memories. Thank you, for them all, Durban. Sadly, a City that is no more.
Another email from Gordon Arrived a short time later. It kicks off with an anecdote about his grandmother, mentioned above, whose name will be familiar to most Durbanites. He wrote:
My granny was Mrs. Fin or Dockside Annie, although she was actually Rachel Finlayson, the lady who gave her name to the Beach Baths in Dutban. A swimming coach of renown. Her husband, my grandfather was head of the Durban Corporation Telephone Department and his name was Gordon Black Finlayson. He died before my birth in 1938. He came from Aberdeen in Scotland in 1896.
my same granny was Mrs. Fin or Dockside Annie, although she was actually Rachel Finlayson, the lady who gave her name to the Beach Baths in Dutban. A swimming coach of renown. Her husband, my grandfather was head if the Durban Corporation Telephone Department and his name was Gordon Black Finlayson. He died before my birth in 1938. He came from Aberdeen in Scotland in 1896.
I remember the West Street Groyne and barbed wire on the beach, during the war. The black out curtains and an air raid shelter in the grounds of flats in Hunt road.
The Christmas lights at Payne Brothers, Greenacres, and OK Bazaars where they competed to be Durban’s best.
The library and Museum at the back of the City Hall, And the Little Theatre in a lane between the Princes bioscope and the Royal Hotel. I sang a solo of Greensleeves with the Park View School Choir there.
I also remember Bakers horse and cart that brought the bread down Hunt Road and us kids sat on the back step for a ride. “Sammy”, who carried two baskets of fruit and vegetables, hung from a long pole, over his shoulder.
Nutty Toffees, 4 for a 1d.
The railway bus ride to PMB for a day’s outing, with a stop at The Valley of 1000 Hills for tea and cake in Drummond. I preferred an icecream. Then from Pmb Railway Station to the Botanical Gardens by bus, for a lunch time picnic.
The big household shows at the Wool Market in Umbilo, the talent shows at the Planet Theatre opposite the Umbilo Fire Station, and being allowed to slide down the brass pole by Captain? Goulding.
I also remember the factory tours. Lion Match Factory at Stamford Hill, Lever Brothers at Maydon Wharf, Dunlop Tyres in the Congella area. The Dry Docks where they pumped the water out and the ship settled on its keel for maintenance.
The Municipal housing developments at Virginia, Sherwood and Woodlands. The double story home of Charlie Barends, SA champion jockey and the swimming pool he graciously allowed the neighbourhood kids to use in Montclair and Mr. Wayne’s stable, where we had a boxing ring. And the horse riding stables in Montclair Road. The bicycle races through the Montclair bush, and even the sawmill up above the park.
And the row boats for hire on the Isipingo River with it’s tea garden up river a ways. We played pirates so happily there.
Being taught to play soccer by Topper Brown, and the soccer ground near the big Sugar Mill next to a river in Clairwood. The Union Flour Mill with its tall silos and the bridge over the railway line at Umbilo Station.
Those were the days, my friend, We thought they would never end.