have just received this evocative picture of a double-decker
bus which was taken in 1960. Click here
or on the image to go to the page on Durban's public transport
history for details about the picture and to download
a wallpaper-sized enlargement.
up a new page on Durban
symbols. You'll find pictures of the original Borough
Seal, the Coat of Arms and various logos which have been used
by the Council. The page is very much a work in progress with
plenty of detail still missing and I'd welcome any help with
filling in the missing pieces.
ago I reported that I had acquired a packet of aerial pictures
of Durban with some dating back to 1931/2 when the first aerial
survey of Durban was completed. I now have permission to reproduce
them courtesy of The Director: Survey Department, eThekwini
Municipality. The first few are now up along with full details
on the Air
Survey page and I'll keep you posted in the diary as I
previous diary page
I mentioned that I had been in search of Durban's earliest
computer. The earliest ones I had then found were electro-mechanical
plugboard tabulators which were used from the early 1930s
by Durban's Treasury Department to keep track of payments
to the department and to generate telephone accounts.
Now, thanks to Transnet Heritage Librarian Eurika Deminey,
I have discovered that S.A. Railways And Harbours were using
Hollerith sorting machines and tabulators to produce their
monthly goods returns in Durban from the beginning of August
The S.A.R. & H. magazine from November 1922 gives a fascinating
account of how the system worked. Young male and female operators
would capture documents including invoices onto punch cards
at the rate of about 250 an hour.
The stack of cards would then be fed into the sorting machine
which would sort the cards by railway station number and then,
for each station, by invoice number. Stop cards were inserted
into the stack of punch cards between each station and then
the whole pile would be fed into the tabulator.
This machine would read each punch card and add up the weight
of cargo and the amounts paid and owing for each station.
When it reached the stop card at the end of each station it
would halt to allow the operator to note down the figures.
The goods returns for August 1922 were compiled, incidentally,
from 31500 invoices and 14500 received payments.
A comment made in the magazine that 'the success of this system
of working entirely depends upon the cards being punched with
the proper information' is as true today as it was then. GIGO:
Garbage In Garbage Out.
diary pages I have mentioned the tragedy on 28 November 1942
in which the passenger ship Nova Scotia was torpedoed with
great loss of life about 48km off Cape St Lucia - see here
and here. In
the meantime my informant Doug Thompson has given me a newspaper
clipping which is dated 22 November 1987 and describes the
end of the Nova Scotia. The article was written by a Bob Kennaugh
who, I can only speculate, must have been related to Nova
Scotia survivor George Kennaugh.
177 commander Kapitanleutnant Robert Gysae apparently spotted
smoke from the Nova Scotia at 6:12am. The U-Boat submerged
at 8:31am and at 9:15 fired three torpedoes at a distance
of 380 metres sinking the Nova Scotia within seven minutes.
One lifeboat was launched successfully leaving the rest of
the survivors clinging to rafts or bits of wreckage in the
oily and shark-infested water.
surfaced to find out which ship had been sunk but the commander
noted that he couldn't get an answer because the survivors
were all screaming and shouting at once. Two survivors were
apparently taken on board the U-Boat and by 10am the U-Boat
was moving away from the scene due to the danger from allied
air patrols and, in particular, I believe, from the Catalina
patrols operating from the nearby Eastern Shores on Lake St
speculate that the U-Boat had probably been ordered not to
assist survivors and Kennaugh's article confirms this saying
that a signal was received by the boat from U-Boat Headquarters
saying; "Continue operating. Waging war comes first.
No rescue attempts." As explained elsewhere,
I have reason to believe that this prohibition dated from
an incident a month earlier where a U-Boat had been bombed
while it was trying to assist survivors from the troopship
Headquarters did notify the Portuguese Authorities about the
sinking and the sloop Alfonso de Albuquerque under Captain
Jose Augusto de Brito was dispatched from Lourenco Marques
to the scene which it reached in the evening of the 29 November.
Survivors were picked up all through the night until the search
was abandoned the next day.
to Kennaugh there were 765 Italian prisoners of war, 134 South
African soldiers, some women and children and, of course the
crew aboard the Nova Scotia when she was torpedoed. In all
750 people lost their lives, many to shark attack, and many
of their bodies were washed ashore along the Kwazulu Natal
coast including 120 at Durban.
sinking of the Nova Scotia occurred 61 years ago today. R.I.P.
find full details of the 1931/32 air survey of Durban on the
page including a new picture I've just put up.
Click the picture or here
to go to the page.
reward that I have reaped from my Facts About Durban project
is the letters and emails I have received from people keen
to share their knowledge and memories with me. A couple of
interesting letters which arrived recently established the
true facts behind the lovely story that the infant model for
the nude cherubs which decorate the city hall later later
went on to become mayor of Durban.
letter was from Brenda Horner who is the widow of the famous
Durban actor David Horner. Much to my surprise it also turned
out that Brenda's father Gordon White used to sing with the
Chanticleers which was an amateur singing group run by my
grandparents Jackson in Durban in the 1930s and 1940s.
made a number of radio broadcasts from my grandparents' home
at 167 Ridge Road. My grandfather would apparently phone the
studio at the appointed time and the group would sing down
the line. We have a 78-recording of the group featuring Gordon
and, we think, Springbok Cricketer Eric Dalton and I was delighted
to be able to give Brenda a copy of it on compact disc.
back to the cherubs. Brenda's maternal grandfather was William
Cornelius, who along with Mr Hollis, was the contractor who
built Durban's City Hall. It seems that the Land Bank crash
in the late 19th century caused many Australians to seek a
better life overseas. These included William Cornelius and
his wife Elizabeth who arrived in Durban in 1895 where he
set up as a building contractor in premises in Stanger Street.
and Hollis were awarded the contract to build the City Hall
in 1905 and, hardly had the building got under way when, on
the 24th May 1905, which was Empire Day, Elizabeth gave birth
to the first known set of triplets born in South Africa. Many
Australians worked on the City Hall including William's brothers
Martin, George and Fred and his older sons William and Ernest.
the completion of the City Hall in 1910 the retiring William
Cornelius took his family on holiday rather than attend the
opening ceremony. His firm did a lot of other work in and
around Durban including the Natal Bank building, Payne Brothers
building in West Street, Willern Court and Victoria Mansions
on Victoria Embankment, the Metro cinema, which was on the
corner of Aliwal Street and Smith Street, and a large section
of Shongweni Dam.
first edition of Facts About Durban I included an unsubstantiated
story that Hollis' infant son had been the model for the naked
cherubs adorning the city hall and later became the first
mayor anywhere to take office in a city hall decorated with
nude representations of himself.
confirmed that she had been told this story as a child by
her mother and I was delighted to think that it was true.
That same week, however, an e-mail arrived from my informant
Merle Rowles saying that much of the decorative stone work,
plaster mouldings and woodcarving on the city hall had been
done by Oliver Liles. She told me that his daughter was living
in Margate and would be able to let me have the truth behind
the story of the cherubs for once and for all.
surprised again when I found out that Oliver's daughter is
Joan Delgado who was very well known to me years ago having
been a friend of my mother's. She confirmed to me that her
father had done a major amount of work on the city hall including
the plaster work but that the model for the cherubs had been
Joan's brother Eric.
So now we know !!
sounds of it Oliver Liles must have been an exceptional craftsman
whose main speciality was stone carving but who could turn
his hand to anything in the decorative line. In addition to
Durban's City Hall, he also worked on the Cape Town City Hall,
the Union Buildings in Pretoria, the War Memorial in East
London, the restoration of the stonework on the Grahamstown
Cathedral and the City Hall and Appeal Court in Bloemfontein.
Joan told me that she has the pleasure of seeing her father's
work every time the court building appears on the TV news
which, these days, is regrettably often.
City Hall is a marvellous building and I must see if I can't
get some more information on it and put it up on its own page.
at the Point the other day on one of the few photographically
decent days we've had this summer so I took a picture of our
Millenium Tower on the Bluff.
Click the picture to view an enlargement.
first edition of Facts About Durban I wrote:
from just about anywhere in Durban towards the Bluff and
you will see a tower with a big cone-shaped thingy made
out of tubing on its head. This is Durbans Millennium
Tower which was completed in 2002 to house the citys
Port Control Offices and to show off a bit. The design was
done by the firm soundspacedesign and was one of 53 entries
in a competition run by the Port Authorities.
whole thing is 75 meters high and the tubular bit on top,
more properly known as the cowl, rotates so that its curved
front points in the direction the wind is blowing. The cowl
weighs 14 tons of which 11 tons is aluminium. A central
50-meter spire moves up and down in the centre to show whether
the tide is in or out and the cowl is supposed to be lit
up at night with a changing display driven by a random algorithm
based on the tide, wind and humidity.
Tower provides information through the array of lights it
carries below its windows. A red light means a ship is leaving
the harbour, green means one is arriving, flashing red means
the port is closed, and amber means that the wind speed
has reached gale-force (50kmh), or above. Buried beneath
the Tower is a time capsule containing 2000 drawings and
items representing the current era including a brassiere
belonging to one of the Port Control Officers.
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