Facts About Durban Diary - Page # 3

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18 July 2003

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

!! 85 TODAY !!

Best wishes from
Facts About Durban
and many happy returns.

Born 18 July 1918

Gambit The Dolphin

!! 31 Today !!

Best wishes from Facts About Durban
and many happy returns.

Born 18 July 1972

Nelson Mandela is included on this page because he is a Freeman of Durban (created 1999) and because we wouldn't want to leave him out anyway. Gambit is appears here because he is a long-time Durban resident and, at 517Kg, is the biggest dolphin in any oceanarium in the world. He is an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin and has been delighting audiences in Durban's Seaworld for 28 years. He is a father of six, grandfather of one and consumes over 25Kg of fish per day.

Picture courtesy of Seaworld. Click the picture to download a wallpaper-sized version (1024x768px).

20 July 2003

In Facts I told that Durban had had the first railway in South Africa which opened on 26 June 1860. I recently discovered that a recreation of the first locomotive, named Natal, is displayed in Durban Station incorporating the chassis (undercarriage??) of the original. The remains of the Natal were apparently found in the Umzimvubu River and I'm sure the story of how it got there will be worth hearing. **SEE HERE FOR THE STORY

<== Click to view a wallpaper-sized enlargement (1024x768px).

The Natal Mercury described the Natal as a "rather strange-looking, but withal very neat little engine ...which... savours of Yankeedom, and is new to most English eyes."

25 July 2003

I knew that ship Ovington Court had beached itself just off Durban's Addington Beach in 1940. I was recently extremely surprised to find that it was a total loss and that the wreck is still there about 200 metres off the beach. Lived here damn near 45 years and never knew that!!! I've now spoken to an eyewitness to some of the events surrounding the incident and I've put that report and other Ovington Court gleanings up on their own page which I'll keep updated as I find out more. The wreck is apparently a popular dive site among local scuba divers.

<== Click to view Ovington Court Page.

31 July 2003

While finding out about the Ovington Court I discovered a whole chain of new facts relating to another wreck which lies in 30m of water about 2km offshore and 6km south of Durban harbour mouth. The vessel in question is a steamship of between 1000 and 1500 tons and made of iron. It is about 76m long with a beam of 10.5m but the really intriguing thing about it for me is that nobody knows what its name was or when it sank.

The wreck is a popular dive and fishing spot and known as the Cooper Light wreck after the lighthouse on the Bluff. Jill Forrester and friends from the Durban Underwater Club have been researching the wreck but have so far not been able to identify it. They have discovered that the vessel was most likely scuttled when it reached its sell-by date and that this was apparently common practice in the old days in the approaches to both Durban and Cape Town harbours.

John Gribble writing in the July / August 2000 issue of Divestyle magazine reveals that there are as many as 20 iron and steel wrecks lying in the waters off Durban's Bluff. Among these are many ships which were scuttled including the Garthforce, 1922, the Emma, 1927, the Karin, 1927, the Kate, 1931 [31 August??], the Istar, 1932, the Namaqua, 1932, and the Water Reichel, 1933.

For a while Jill and her fellow researchers thought that they had cracked the riddle of the Cooper Light Wreck when they discovered that its description very closely matched that of the Kate which had belonged to Smith's Coasters (owned by Sir Charles George Smith) and which had been scuttled somewhere off Durban in 1931. The researchers' joy was short-lived, however, because a check through Lloyd's Shipping Register revealed that the Kate had had two propellors wheras the Cooper Light wreck only has one.

And so the identity of the Cooper Light wreck remains shrouded in mystery and so, incidentally, does the location of the Kate's final resting place.

**Click here to see pictures of the Kate.

02 August 2003

New today on the site is a Resources Page where I'll be listing special pages on the site, desktop wallpapers which are available for download, and links to other websites of interest. I think I'm going to have to start thinking about putting in a site search feature before too long...

06 August 2003

Thanks are due to Jill Forrester (mentioned above on 31 July) who supplied an underwater picture of the Cooper Light wreck and to Dave Rogers who gave me permission to publish his sketch of the wreck.

<== Click to view enlarged.
Pictures courtesy J. Forrester.

The pics are of part of a structure on the aft deck of the wreck which looks a bit like a harpoon gun and which gave rise to speculation that the ship had been a whaler. In fact, the structure is the remains of the vessel's steering mechanism. The drawing below clearly shows the wreck as it is now and how Dave Rogers believes she must have looked.

<== Click to view enlarged.
Picture courtesy D. Rogers.

My quest for new facts is is proving to be even more fascinating than I would have believed possible. In the next day or two I'm going to be adding details to the Ovington Court page from a newspaper clipping I've been sent and, on Friday, I'm visiting Kevan Mardon who knows all about the development of public transport in Durban. I could add something to the site every day but for the lack of time. My day job is now seriously getting in my way!!!

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