know when you're going to pick up somthing interesting, as
I did recently when I overheard a conversation between two
friends. They were discussing a job they were doing for a
local Durban shipping company, which had once owned the first
vessel to carry a radio into the South Atlantic. Check out
on the SS Inkosi here.
quite by chance over the weekend that Durban will soon be
host to the competitors in a major round the world yacht race.
There are 10 competitors in the Clipper 05/06 Round the World
Yacht Race and are expected to arrive in Durban on 17 November,
for a 10-day stopover. You might wonder why I'm telling you
all this but one of the yachts is called Durban, and that's
reason enough in my book. Regular readers will know about
my collection of ships called Durban which I've put up here.
courtesy Clipper Ventures
yacht Durban which is due in Durban around 17 November
Click to view enlargement.
competitors in the race are Western Australia, Jersey, New
York, Singapore, Qingdao, Victoria, Liverpool, Cardiff and
Glasgow. The latest race report has the Durban lying in 6th
place but I'm sure that will improve; especially after the
stopover, once we've had a chance to dose our opponents with
real Durban curry!
info on the race is available on the race website.
is also an unofficial Durban Clipper site here
time ago (a year or so) I visited the whaling station on the
Bluff escorted by my informant John McDonald and, because
it's a restricted military area at the moment, by the SA Navy's
local PRO. The tour around the station was fascinating, what
with the whaling stories John told me, the scenic nature of
the spot, and the photographically interesting dilapidated
has been used as a firing range for South African special
forces for years and is showing many signs of this rough treatment.
I'm no expert but I should think that a lot of the buildings
are beyond saving but I believe that some could be saved and
form the basis of a cracking attraction for the city. There
are moves afoot to open the Bluff to the public again, but
the process is moving infuriatingly slowly.
out some pictures
I took during my visit.
that the yacht Durban, mentioned above, has surged into 5th
place in the Round the World Race.
have mentioned that I had an article on Flying Boats in Durban
in our ratepayers' magazine Metrobeat. In it I made an appeal
for people who had experienced them to come forward and the
response was overwhelming. I have made a start at writing
everything down and today I have a new page describing the
experiences of sea cadet George Haskins and air cadet Des
Manning who were among many Durban youngsters who had rides
on the Sunderlands of 35 Squadron. Read all about it under
snippet I've got for you is an addition to the postcards page
which shows an early view from the City Hall of the Town Gardens
and Post Office. See the Postcards
the yachts in the Clipper 05/06 Round the World Yacht Race
set sail from Durban on the next leg of the race to Freemantle
in Western Australia. The fleet sailed out of the harbour
mouth just after midday led by our boat, Durban. It was one
of the most incredible sights I've ever seen in the harbour.
Literally hundreds of vessels of all descriptions joined an
armada to see the yachts off.
was even a nod to history when local actress Caroline Smart
donned a white dress and floppy red hat to sing goobye to
the yachts, just as Perla Siedle Gibson, the Lady in White,
used to do for the troopships during WWII. The noise and commotion
were such that I didn't know about it until it was all over
and missed getting a picture, unfortunately.
leads the way out of the harbour, far left, and just
part of the armada which saw the yachts off.
Click images to view enlargements
fried to a crisp watching the whole thing but it was worth
that I have been neglecting these pages shamefully but I'm
faced with the regrettable necessity of having to earn a living.
I have been lucky enough to pick up the part-time editorship
of an industrial newspaper but that has cut into my time more
than somewhat. I have still been collecting new material in
the interim, however, and its just a matter of writing it
made a start today and collected snippets together from an
ongoing correspondence I've been having on the sailing ship
Modwena, which (who??) operated out of Durban for a time before
being scuttled somewhere outside the harbour mouth in about
1935. Click to visit my main page on the Romantic
Age of Sail, as it pertained to Durban, and for Modwena's
I've got quite a bit of stuff for you, starting with the news
that the yacht Durban has won the the Durban-Freemantle leg
of the Clipper 05/06 Round the World Yacht Race. She arrived
at 22h15 on 16 December 2005, an hour ahead of Victoria, her
closest rival. Perhaps the curry I referred to in the diary
on 1 November, above, did play its role in slowing down the
opposition. The alternative, which is almost too horrible
to contemplate, is that it increased the wind on our boat!!
now added two more pages to the section on Flying Boats in
Durban. One page contains the remiscences of Bob Fraser, who
made the trip from Egypt to Durban on a Sunderland on the
shuttle service which 35 Squadron SAAF ran just after WWII.
The other page concerns Joyce Mitchell's memories of her trip
from Southampton to Durban aboard a BOAC Flying Boat in 1946.
pages can be accessed from the Eyewitness Section on the main
Flying Boat page.
that you'e all had a wonderful time over Christmas and that
you're well embarked on the New Year. Today I 've got quite
a lot of stuff for you including another eyewitness account
of the passenger flying boats which used to use Durban as
their Southern African terminus. This time its the reminiscences
of John Field who worked in the BOAC offices in Durban in
1943/44. See the Eyewitnesses section on the main
Flying Boat page here.
acquired a printed souvenir booklet on Durban, which was produced
during WWII. One of the interesting things it has in it is
a map showing the locations of the servicemen's clubs which
flourished here during the war. I've put up a page
with the map, some photographs, and other details for
you to look at.
I had a look at the site statistics for Facts About Durban
and I see that the site seems to be going from strength to
strength. I'm very pleased because the site has been averaging
over 3000 visitors a month and, in January, there were 5148
visitors who viewed 9718 pages. Here's the graph:
GRAPH TO VIEW ENLARGEMENT
that pleasant little surprise yesterday, I've been energised
and I've got a couple of things for you today. The first is
a very nice addition to my postcards page in the shape of
a postcard of the Durban's original lighthouse, before its
partial demolition at the beginning of WWII. Click here
for the page and scroll down to the bottom.
also got a very interesting article written by Johny Vassilaros,
who is the chairman of the Durban Paddle Ski Club. His story
is about the history of paddle skis in Durban and of the Paddle
Ski club itself. Please note that there are bound to have
been people who were paddle ski pioneers in Durban and who
haven't been mentioned. We'd be grateful if you could get
in touch with me with
the details and, hopefully, with some pictures.
here to go
to the story.
I've got an interesting little leaflet put out by the Corporate
Policy Unit of the eThekwini Municipality. It is titled eThekwini
Municipality Business Card and it measures about 9cm wide
x 11cm high, folded, and it contains some interesting current
statistics on the City.
population of the metropolitan area is given as 3090125 broken
up into African 2110583 (68%), Coloured 87282 (3%), Indian
614836 (20%) and White 277428 (9%). Pensioners make up 3%
of the total, the disabled 1% and females 52%. Fourty percent
of the population are aged between 15 and 35, 37% are employed
and 28% are unemployed.
metro area there are 90 libraries, 252 clinics, 63 police
stations, 30 hospitals, 20 fire stations, 992 schools, 144
community halls and 38 post offices. There are 823700 households
in the area including 572700 (70%) in formal settlements,
153810 (19%) in informal settlements with traditional and
other making up the balance.
the population figures are still broken down by race and I
fully appreciatate the need for this. What I don't quite quite
understand is the use of the word African to describe the
black members of the population. I notice this happening more
and more and it is a bit of a worry because it would tend
to imply that we whiteys have been wrong in believing ourselves
to be Africans as well. Perhaps we'll have to invent a new
term for ourselves; something like Afro-Honkies, for example.
item on the agenda today is a vintage addition to my postcard
page in the form of a nice view down West Street from Field
Street. Click here
to go to the page and then scroll down to the bottom.
item is an addition to the list of eyewitness accounts of
the days when Durban was the South African terminus for the
flying boat passenger and mail service. A lady called Edith
Sherry travelled out from the UK to Durban aboard the flying
boat Castor in 1937 and kept a diary of her trip. Through
my informant Joan Armstrong, I was able to get a copy of the
diary and various other Bits and pieces, including a CD with
a recording of a radio programme on the flying boats and an
interview with Edith, herself, in her later years.
here to got
to the main flying boat page and click on the link under Eyewitnesses
to read the diary. In due course, I'll write up the content
of the CD which has a lot of interest in it including some
reminiscences from South Africa aviation pioneer and flying
boat captain, Caspar Caspareuthus.
article on Durban's Transport History on
this site and in the printed version of Facts About Durban,
terms of the size of its bus fleet Durban Transport was
the largest municipal operator in South Africa. On 1 August
2003 it would have been 104 years old had it not been sold
to the Remant (Pty) Ltd and Alton Coach Africa Consortium
on 1 June 2003 for R70-million. Those in favour of privatisation
say that the ratepayer will save approximately R40-million
a year but I'm sure I'm not alone in believing that a mistake
was made. I don't think much good ever came from privatising
public transport because it's a service and not the sort
of thing that can be run really well and still make enough
profit to satisfy its investors."
couple of years since then I have noticed that Durban's (sorry,
Remant Alton's) busses have been looking seedier and seedier.
In an article in today's Natal Mercury, which is reproduced
the paper reported that the Kwazulu-Natal Deprtment of Transport
had launched a blitz on unroadworthy busses in the province.
One hundred and twenty nine Remant Alton busses were examined
by the department yesterday and, of these, 63 were found to
unroadworthy and suspended; I suspect the Mercury meant impounded.
to say 'I told you so' again, but I will:
and not the sort of thing that can be run really well and
still make enough profit to satisfy its investors."
in this location on war graves in Hillary has been moved
to a new location on this site. Click
here to view.
quite a slow start to the year, I have been quite prolific
this month, it seems. The trend doesn't stop here because,
in the few next days, I'm going to be putting up a couple
of articles I've been sent by a reader. In the meantime, I've
got something for you on the visit to Durban by Prince George
in 1934. The details come from an electronic copy of the official
programme which I was sent by my informant Chris Allen. Read
full details here.
one thing and another, flying boats have been attracting a
lot of my attention lately. My article on flying boats, which
was published in our ratepayer's magazine Metrobeat last year,
brought me a lot of feedback and readers' letters are still
arriving at the magazine from people keen to share their memories.
I have two articles for you which were written by Jeff Gaisford
who is the Media Officer of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. They concern
the Catalina and Sunderland aircraft which, although based
in Durban, often used to operate from Lakes St Lucia and Umsingazi
in Zululand. The articles can be viewed by going to the main
flying boat page and clicking the links to the articles.
next weeks and months I am going to have a lot of scanning
to do because I have been loaned photographs by two members
of the flying boat squadron which was based here in Durban
during and after WWII. I'll get that done and put the pictures
up on the site as soon as I can
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