printed version of Facts About Durban, I have a section on
ships which have been called Durban. I've been planning on
putting up a page in honour of these noble vessels and will
still get to that. In the meantime, however, I thought I'd
share a postcard of the Durban Castle which came my way today
Click to view wallpaper-sized picture of the postcard
of the postcard is marked 'Posted At Sea' and is postmarked
'London, 8 March, 1951. The card is from an E. Galt and is
addressed to a friend in London. He or she was aboard the
Durban Castle on the way to South Africa and says that the
weather was cold and foggy and that the sea in the Bay of
Biscay was expected to be rough. Nothing's changed there,
past couple of weeks I've acquired a treasure trove of interesting
new material and today I'll start with something I got as
a result of my article on whaling in Durban which was published
in last month's Metrobeat, our ratepayer's magazine. It turns
out that my informant John Buchan's grandmother was Jacob
J Egeland's daughter. Egeland, of course, was the founding
father of whaling in Durban - see
my article on this site.
Click to view an enlargement of the picture.
Egeland decided that Durban was the place for him, as so many
did, after his ship was wrecked here on arrival. He was born
in Lyngdal in Norway on 3 August 1864 and arrived in Durban
August 1880, aboard the barque Surprise. The vessel was wrecked
on Durban beach along with two other vessels on the night
of 24 August. During the voyage he had become friendly with
the ship's cobbler and made himself a pair of shoes but, fortunately,
both he and they survived.
were given the option of being paid-out in Durban or a passage
back to Norway. He chose the former option and immediately
proceeded to the test his newly made shoes by walking the
120-plus kilometers up to Eshowe to visit relatives. He pioneered
commercial fishing in South Africa, when he started the Natal
Fishing Company. He established a homestead on a 10 acre plot
in South Ridge Road and he named it Solheim. The arch over
the gateway was formed by the jawbones of a blue whale.
he started the whaling industry in Durban with Johan Bryde.
was made a Knight of the Order of St Olav (First Class) in
1912 by King Haakon for services rendered as Norwegian Consul
in Durban. He died in 1944.
Would you believe this site had 2739 visitors during March.
That's nearly 800 more than the previous best of 1968 in January.
Another stat I'm really pleased with is that there are now
2900 copies of Facts About Durban in print. It will have been
out for only two years in June, and I think that's pretty
good for a self-published and distributed book.
website: I've recently had correspondence with Garry Schei
in Glasgow, Scotland. Garry has a very nice collection of
vintage postcards and photos of old Durban, which he has posted
on his website
About Durban I wrote the following about the gracious Marine
Durban loses one of her most famous landmarks as the Marine
Hotel on the corner of Gardiner Street and Victoria Embankment
is demolished. The hotel had stood in the spot since the
turn of the century and played host to, among many other
eminent people, the Prince of Wales in 1923, Prince George
in 1934 and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands in 1954.
The lift- ing of the siege of Mafekeng in 1901 was celebrated
in the hotel and a framed copy of the dinner menu in the
reception area reveals that the dishes on offer had included
Kruger Marrow Bones on Toast [Paul Kruger being President
of the Transvaal at the time].
A number of permanent residents have to seek other accommodation
when the Marine is closed including Mrs Leslie Leuchards
who had lived there in a suite for 50 years and had always
dined at table number 13. Mrs Leuchards then moves to
the Royal Hotel where my informant, Richard Rowland, lives
a few years later. He later tells me he remembers her
parking her Rolls Royce and Bentley motorcars on the ground
floor in the Royal Parking Garage; both vehicles were
black and grey and dated from the 1950s.
day I was sorting out my wardrobe preparing for my forthcoming
move and came across the following historic relic:
seen it before, to the best of my knowledge.
been neglecting you shamefully but I have been living through
through the stress of a move out of the family home in Glenwood,
where we have have based for more than 40 years. I'm still
in the eThekwini metropolitan area but up the hill and, hopefully,
out of the worst of the humidity.
I have a postcard for you. It's a lovely view of West Street
looking back towards the Berea and it shows a ricksha and
electric trams. The card is undated and I'd welcome hearing
from anyone who can help with a date based, perhaps, on the
in West Street
Click to view an enlargement of the picture.
Dixon-Smith thinks that the date could be about
was never posted but I was delighted to find that some comments
had been written on the back after which, presumably, it was
sent off in a letter or parcel. There is no hint who the writer
or recipient might have been and also, as you will see, little
hint of any punctutaion.
I should warn you that the passage does contain a racially
hurtful word but I decided to include it for the reason that
this is an historic document and should not be censored, and
because it was penned in a time when the word was not seen
as derogatory [note that it and the word 'Zulu' are the only
capitalised words in the passage].
the card you will see a Zulu running with a ricksha they
can run all the day long & always the same speed up
& down hill just the same the[y] go about as
fast as an ordinary pony but they can only stand that
strain for about two years after that they go to pieces
I was talking to one one night there was a chap with me
who could speak a bit of Zulu & I can speak a bit
of Kaffir so between us we got it out of him after two
years they have to give it up & he settles down &
with the money they buy cattle & with the cattle they
buy wives this one had three wives & 6 children he
said he wanted three more not bad he should get his share
of good things don't you think so."
add a 'y' which the unknown author forgot but I resisted the
temptation to add my own punctutation. Even after this length
of time, I can easily imagine the ricksha puller's delight
in pulling the wool over the eyes of his interrogators.
I'd like to introduce you to Rosemary Dixon-Smith who is very
active in genealogical research in Durban & Kwazulu Natal.
She is a member of the excellent free Genealogy
World website where she maintains a number of pages crammed
with interesting stories about Old Durban, in particular.
She has compiled a page with links to stories
with a nautical flavour and passenger lists of some of
the ships which arrived in Durban in the early days. Among
them, you will find a story called Keeper
of the Bluff Light, which features Rosemary's Great Grandfather
Thomas Gadsden, who was Durban's lighthouse keeper in the
1870s and 1880s.
is a lot of general interest information to be found at Genealogy
World and it is a great place to start looking for traces
of your ancestors. In addition to Rosemary's stuff, you will
find interesting articles by Graham Mason, who writes on the
Anglo-Zulu War, mainly with an empasis on finding the descendants
of those who fought in that conflict, and lists compiled by
Robin Griffiths. I might just add that, if you can't get here
for yourself, Rosemary will do research for you for at a very
reasonable price; see here
to say that Rosemary has sent us an article on early circuses
in the region for publication on this site, and you can view
It will, I hope, be the first of many articles from her.
Visit To The Circus
Click to view the article.
There were 3664 visits to the Facts About Durban website during
April 2005. The visitors viewed 6603 pages on the site during
usual lackadasical fashion, I missed a very important anniversary
which occurred last week, on 2 May, to be precise. One hundred
and fourty five years ago, on that day, there occurred Durban's
first cricket match of any note. I'm grateful to my informant
Reg Sweet for the information, and for the article on the
subject that he has contributed to the site. Reg, who was
Sports Editor of The Daily News from 1953 until the 1980s,
has apparently not been idle in his retirement years and has
been delving lately into the pioneering days of cricket in
Durban. You can read his story of that
first match here.
Courtesy W Starrenberg
was a time in the bad old days when the government actively
encouraged white immigrants to South Africa. Durban
received quite a number of these including many Europeans
who knew little or no English. They were strangers in
a strange land but, fortunately, there was an organisation
called the Maatskapij vir Europese Immigrasie to help
my article on MEI here.
just put up a new page with some requests I've received for
information on this and that to do with Durban. The page
is here and you are cordially asked to take a look and
contact me if you can throw any light into previously dark
I have a real treat in store for you. It's a wonderful article
contributed by erstwhile Durbanite William Paterson and concerns
his early years which were spent in Durban just prior to,
and during WWII. William is a great hand with words and the
article is strongly evocative of those bygone days.
reading the article, I hope you'll be inspired to put pen
to paper and send your own memories of Durban in
to me for publication on this site. You may think that
nobody would be interested but they will, now and, especially,
in the future. The growing popularity of this website is proof
enough that people do want to know what happened and what
things were like. Your words and pictures will not only be
of interest to current visitors to the site but will eventually
help future historians plug gaps in their knowlege.
ever-helpful Eurika Deminey of the Transnet Foundation
Heritage Library recently sent me the bookmark, left,
enclosed with an invoice, and I was struck by how true
the the message on it is.
been very patient and read through the heavy stuff in
the preceding paragraphs and now, on to William's
article. ENJOY !!
we had 3686 visitors to
this site who viewed 6474
different pages while they were here. It seems that Facts
About Durban is going from strength to strength and I hope
things are going to get even better in the near future with
the addition of a chat forum to the site. You will be able
to use it to post messages sharing your memories of Durban,
respond to messages posted by others, reconnect with old friends
and, hopefully, make new ones. I currently have a protoype
of the forum running and will let you know when it opens.
we've got another very interesting contribution from Rosemary
Dixon-Smith. It concerns a tragic accident which took place
at the lighthouse on the Bluff in 1898 and it includes much
of interest and a wonderfully atmospheric picture of the lighthouse
and signal station in the 1890s. See
the article here.
courtesy R Dixon-Smith
hard to believe but it is two whole years ago, today, that
this website went live. In that time it has has gone from
having only handfuls of visitors to the current level of more
than 3000 every month. It has been a lot of work, but great
fun, and I only hope that you've enjoyed it as much as I have.
I had to tackle recently was deciding whether I was going
to have a cake with two candles or two cakes with a candle
each. Greed won when I decided that two cakes were better
future, the site is going to go from strength to strength
with a number of your fellow readers working on articles,
even as we speak. I'll be writing up new material I've acquired
lately, including a booklet put out by the Durban Publicity
Association in 1927 to commemorate the visit of HMS Durban
to Durban. Finally, I am still fiddling with configuring an
online forum forum for the site, and once that's done, you'll
be able to use it to share your memories of Durban with people
all over the world.
this month is the second anniversary of the launch of the
print edition of Facts and it now seems likely that I am going
to hit my target of getting 3000 copies of Facts into print
within two years. In other news, FAD Publishing, my tiny little
print division, will shortly be publishing a new book on the
Royal Air Force's 222 Squadron, which was called the Natal
Squadron and was paid for by the people of Durban.
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