Pot Pourri Four again concerns buildings around Durban to be identified. Added pictures add to the location.
The block of flats being built is the block called Kenton. Built in 1962 at 90 West. It is situated between Kearsney Road and John Milne Road. What used to be on this plot of land was West Milne Building with tenants Zell’s Picture Gallery, JR Joy (Pty) Ltd (unknown), and Cash Wholesalers at street level. Cash Wholesalers in the 50s/60s was a general store somewhat like the original Game selling electrical appliances, furniture and photographic goods. This was the Beach Branch with the main shop being in Field Street opposite the Daily News offices. It was bought over by a firm called Freeds. Nothing to do with the present day Cash Wholesalers franchise.
Beach Fruiterers was on the corner of Kearsney Road and 98 West Street.
My interest is not so much in Kenton but do recall that at street level in the 60s there was a big shop that sold classical Greek marble art. I checked my 1965 directory and the shop was called Erechtheion Classical Art. I remember the shop having a very white interior with fairly large white marble sculptures. Zell’s Picture Gallery had converted to Zell’s Curio Corner.
The shop next door, Beach Fruiterers is my interest. It was already trading as Beach Fruiterers in 1938 but look carefully at the building. Indeed it was a church, the Norwegian Church. My interest in the building is rather personal and whenever I pass it by it reminds me of a happening there in 1954. I am glad to see that it is still standing as a constant reminder. I would guess that it is a listed building. In 1965 it was standing vacant and in 1968 was being used as Safariland Curios. In later years it became a surf equipment shop.
Also significant about this building is that it bordered the railway line running from Pine Street to the Point, the original and first operating railway in South Africa in 1860. In front of this shop would have been the boom gates that operated in West St to stop traffic as the train crossed over. Here is a rather unclear photo of a train crossing West St at this point. You can see what look like arched windows of the church, the tram lines in West St, the Federal Hotel in the far background. Looking at the train, the engine seems to be headed by a goods wagon and that is how this railway operated as when uncoupling the goods wagons had to be left behind at the Pine Street station so to speak as there was no turning circle. The engine would return to the Point in reverse. The angled street is Kearsney Road and this has seemingly been retained as such hopefully as a reminder that the first railway in South Africa ran along here.
This intersection of West St and Kearsney Road is also known for an extraordinary incident. It happened here, the only time that someone managed to overturn a trolley bus. (Extract from the book, Facts about Durban….This feat was considered to be impossible but it happened. It happened on 5th March 1941 and 37 passengers were injured, no fatalities). I dare say there was some investigation. A classic photograph. Note the railway lines heading to Pine Street and down to the station. Also the gable of the Church and what looks like arched side windows. The front covered porch was probably added later and renamed as Lawson’s Building. In the 80s/90s the building facing Kearsney Road was a well known eatery selling Mexican food. Was it Gringo’s? All I remember is that on the outside façade, a sombrero, a table and chair, sawn in half was affixed to the wall.
This block of flats still stands today and is known as Flamingo Court. It was built circa 1966/67 and is located in, according to the picture Farimond Road. However I can find no reference to Farimond Road but do see Fairmond Road. I do not know the road but know where the building is. As far as I recall Flamingo Court was built by the Durban Corporation as sub economic accommodation. Probably the largest such Durban Corporation accommodation block built since Elwyn Court in Point Road. Below is a picture of Flamingo Court completed. The piece of ground it stands on was vacant for many years and used to be used as a parking area when the Trade and Hobby Exhibitions of the mid 50s/early 60s used to be held in the Woolbrokers Federation Halls that can be seen behind it. Flamingo Court was on an “island” between Sydney Road and Umbilo Road. My late father-in-law was a Clerk of Works in the Durban Corporation Engineers Dept. and I recall him telling me that after an incident in Elwyn Court where a child fell out of a window, all Durban Corporation flats had to be fitted with burglar guards as a safety precaution. Flamingo Court overlooked Queensmead Hockey ground. I have no idea if the block is still Durban Corporation owned.
This building stands on the corner of Smith Street and Park Street. The building dates to the early 1900s. From attached notes it states that the building was the Good Templars Hall. It was used as a Masonic Lodge and the insignia “Durban Lodge” was inscribed on the building. My recollection of this building is that at street level there was a second hand furniture shop facing Smith St. My late mother knew the person running the shop and would pop in there, me, a young child then, tagging along. Next door were some large old warehouses and a showroom belonging to C. Argo, a large firm dealing in plumbing goods, hardware, bathroom sanitary ware etc. From added notes it states “that the building traded as Durban Furnishers and housed a bootmaker, hairdresser, tearoom, dancing school and a number of bed sits for pensioner women. Presently being used for professional offices.”
Referring to the 1938 Durban Directory the building is called Park Gate Hall and tenants were Erlards Express Delivery Service, Minerva Tearoom, A H Hall hairdresser, Rodney Sisters School of Dancing and 8 apartments. Interesting in 1957 it housed the Christine Fisher Academy of Ballroom Dancing, Miss PM Brown School of Ballet, and Zara Kwitz School of Spanish Dancing.
The building virtually stands alone now. C Argo is no longer there and a huge non-descript building has taken its place. Across the road used to be some semi-detached houses. Next to these was a well-known Durban printing works viz. Electric Press (E.P.) and Commercial Printing Company. These premises are now part of a college. The adjacent area, mainly small blocks of flats, going down to Albert Park has also deteriorated considerably and is virtually a no-go area. Albert Park itself is now vagrant territory, the Tropicale, a vandalised shell. Unbelievably sad but true.
Regarding Park Street, I wonder how many know that there was a synagogue there. I attach a present day picture and it appears that the building is now used by a specialist clothing manufacturer.
The next building is rather obscure unless you noticed it daily as you travelled in and out of town looking out of the trolley bus window. We lived for a while towards the one end of Stamford Hill Road (Sutton Park side) and used the No 18 or 20 trolley bus route. The terminus was outside the Model Dairy / Tennison-Burrows in Gardiner St. The feature that singles the building out is the small portico. The building still stands and I recall it but never knew its purpose. As you can see this is a very old photo. Its location is at the corner of Stamford Hill Road and Walls Avenue. The building was known as Inanda Hall, 180 Stamford Hill Road. This section of Stamford Hill Road has changed completely now and what were residences all along are now commercial enterprises. Looking up Inanda Hall in the directories revealed that it was a Masonic Lodge. The hall could be hired out and it seated 300 people. I have not been down that way for some time but I think it was used as a disco in recent years. I do not have a recent photo of it.
The picture shows a tram probably hired as a “Special” on Polling Day. The candidate (Boydell) was making a tour of the constituency and making whistle stops urging the people to vote for him and what he stood for.
Note the typical old style house next to the hall.
How’s the memory on this location? Looks like 1950s by the cars. Again a personal memory on this from the early days of my career. It is the intersection of North Ridge Road (NRR) and Overport Drive (OD). I am remembering it from 1962 when as a trainee I was posted to the Overport Telephone Exchange building which was opposite to where the cars are facing. NRR on the right, carried on from here straight across to where it met up with Springfield Road (SR) in the distance. The cars at the robot shown had to turn right here into NRR and either go straight or turn left into South Road which took you over the ridge into Mayville. If one recalls where Overport City Centre /Mall now stands there used to be a small shopping centre of connected shops. The bus from town, you can see the overhead wires, turned into NRR from OD and continued to SR. At SR it deflected left down to Earl Haig Road. I also seem to have a vague recollection that one trolley bus route did a U turn at the intersection of SR and NRR at the end of NRR. In the early 60s I recall that at the intersection of NRR and South Road there was a large traffic island with a huge tree on it (not in the picture) where the trolley bus did not continue along NRR but did a U turn back into town. I think it was the Overport bus route. The telephone exchange building is still there, a red brick building and in my time the Post Office was down stairs at street level. Above it was the building frontage with a small balcony above which had two French doors. This balcony was actually an access opening where equipment could be lifted from the street into the exchange building using the overhead crawl beam. The area behind the doors was a staff restroom and at lunch times one could overlook the busy intersection. What used to interest the exchange staff was that every day the Admin Officer’s wife (not too young in years) would bring him his lunch. She would park outside the Post Office and he would go down and collect. He would come back upstairs and look out the balcony and then his wife would drive off and do a nonchalant U turn to get back to Overport Drive gaily waving at her husband and oblivious of the traffic ahead of her. We all used to cringe looking at this waiting for her to hit a car in front of her. It never happened but now and then there was a “Sheesh that was close!” from the viewers. Dear old Mrs Koz.
It still is a very busy intersection. No more traffic island, no big tree, no trolley buses. Now dominated by the Overport City Mall, many of the houses that lined NRR are now businesses and the area overall changed.
The sixth and last one for this episode is beyond all of us. It dates back to 1909. Taken from a book called The Pictorial it must be pretty large as this is page 1074. Admittedly it could be a periodical and the page numbering carries on sequentially. There is a scribbled note at the back which reads “May 1909 new skating rink at Beach, opening ceremony performed by Mayor, Mr Henwood.”
(Mr Henwood was Mayor 1905 to 1909). Also noted on the back are 1932 Ocean Beach Garage and 1946 Christian Science Reading Room. Which left me with two questions; where it actually was and was it ice skating or roller skating? Sorting through other pictures I happened to come across another picture showing the Beachfront in the 1930s from an aerial perspective. A building is marked with two Xs. See picture below. Looking at the 1938 Directory I came across the entry Ocean Rink Garage, Marine Parade located between Smith St and Tyzack St. There is no reference to Ocean Beach Skating Rink so obviously it had ceased to exist by then. The rink had been changed into a garage at some time but not named Ocean Beach Garage but Ocean Rink Garage. The site itself as can be seen, is next to the old Belmont building which flanked West St. The building that was located on this site and flanked the Belmont in much later years was the Claridges Hotel, the two separated from each other by Tyzack Street. The Claridges Hotel is now the Tropicana.
Aerial view of Durban Beachfront circa 1930. Note the Ocean Rink Garage marked with 2 x’s. Note the roof line. The back fronting Marine Parade looks like a parking area. The front faces Gillespie St. An interesting photo.
However the ad states “Entrance opposite Beach Hotel”. Well in 1909 the Belmont did not exist nor in fact did the Marine Parade which was being developed. The Beach Hotel did exist on the corner of West St. There was nothing between the Beach Hotel and the Skating Rink and seeing there may have been no access from “Marine Parade“ due to the dunes, the entrance to the rink was on the already developed West Street side and so opposite to the Beach Hotel. Now was it roller or ice skating? My hunch is that it was roller skating. An ice skating rink that size would have required a very large refrigeration plant and looking at the interior roof it looks like it was open and uninsulated so cold loss would have been significant. That is my theory and I would say roller skating but I stand to be corrected. Lastly I have nothing on it being a Christian Scientist reading room from 1946 to possibly mid 1950s when the site was cleared to make way for the Claridges Hotel. The Claridges of course of Cookie Look fame. That for another day.
Newly constructed Claridges Hotel Mid 1950s.