Facts About Durban Diary - Page # 22

Diary Contents Page | Previous Diary Page | Next Diary Page

29 April 2006

I am coninually amazed by the number of vists this site is attracting. The monthly average now seems to be a tad below 5000 per month, with March 2006 being the best month ever with 5793 visitors who, between them, viewed 10566 separate pages.

<== Click to view graph of the site visits.

I recently did an article for our ratepayers' magazine Metrobeat on the history of Cato Manor. The area was originally a farm belonging to George Christopher Cato, Durban's first mayor, and was then was divided into small holdings operated by Indian market gardeners. It gradually became an informal settlement for black people working in Durban, was the scene of extensive rioting, and was then deserted after the residents were forcibly moved by Nationalist government to other townships.

Click to read the article.

18 May 2006

Today I've got a got a story for you about Archie Archbell who learned to fly in Durban from 1936 and joined the RAF just in time for WWII. He went on to become a squadron commander and flew the King and Queen of England on two occasions; the exact number of times he had crashed during training.

Read the article here.

19 May 2006

Today is quite an historic day because I've just heard from the printers who have told me that FAD Publishing's second book will be delivered early next week. The title is Pambili Bo and it was written by Reg Sweet about 222 (Natal) Squadron of the RAF. The squadron was paid for by the people of Natal and served with distinction in the Battle of Britain and thereafter.

See here for more detail about the book and where to get it.

29 May 2006

Today I have a fantastic addition to the flying boats section in the form of a page of photos collected by Lebbeus Laybutt who served with 35 SQN SAAF, which flew flying boats from Durban bay. Lebbeus sent the pictures he had collected to his son Reg, who was kind enough to let me copy them. There are some great squadron aircraft pictures, some aerial views of Durban, and a nice picture of a Seafire (naval Spitfire) which visited Durban and was probably scrapped here. Click here to view the page.

30 May 2006

I'm having quite a burst of activity at the moment. This time it's an article I culled from the 3 March, 1945, edition of Parade, the British Army newspaper. The article concerns Durban, naturally, and in it, the author Herbert McWilliams contrasts the situation in Durban with how things had been a few years before, when the city was crowded with troops and ships on their way to war. I have very kindly typed out the story for you and you can read it here.

11 June 2006

It's that time of the month again when I'm doing my Editor thing on Kwazulu Industrial News and have very little time to spare for nice things like history. I thought I'd just post a new picture I've received. This time it's of the remains Ovington Court which stick out of the sea off Addington Beach at low water. Click here to go to the page and scroll right down to the bottom.

I have just acquired a book about a troopship mutiny which took place in Durban in 1942 and it not only give a great insight into the mutiny and its aftermath, but also to the convoys which stopped of at Durban during WWII, the political situation in South Africa, and much else besides. I'll write that up as soon as I can.

29 June 2006

Here at Facts About Durban I pride myself on bringing you the widest selection of facts to do with Durban. We are fans of the quirky and interesting but it is likely that today, we have our quirkiest story yet. It is the tale of a smelly dead fish which once slept in Room 47 in the White House at Natal Command military base on Durban's beachfront, and was the focus of media and scientists from around the world.

I'm grateful to my informant Mike Laing for sending me the story, which he co-authored, and giving me permission to reprint it. Click here to read the story.

8 August 2006

This must be the longest gap between entries in the diary since Facts About Durban began. It's not that I'm running out of material to put in it, but that I just haven't been able to find the time to write up the new stuff. This damn site has taken over my life to the extent that I feel guilty when I don't add to it regularly.

Anyway, today I've manged to write up up a page of stories mostly to do with accidents from Durban's aviation past. It all came about when I was loaned a copy of James Byrom's Fields of Air, which is an evocative and fascinating account of civil aviation in South Africa. I devoured the book in one misty afternoon and, as you might expect, took especial note of the entries to do with Durban.

Click here to view the page

8 August 2006

Two entries for today. Gasp!! What productivity!! This time it's a short history of my alma mater, the University of Natal. Click here to view the page.

12 August 2006

On the last diary page I wrote of some war graves I had discovered in Hillary Cemetary and have now moved that material and some responses I received to their own page. One of the responses was from Ricky Nortje, National Coordinator of the SA War Graves Project. He later sent me a document with all sorts of interestings things in it including a good bit of detail on those and other war graves in Durban, the origins of his organisation, and of the Commonwelath War Graves Commission. The Hillary page is here and Ricky's page is here.

And that's not all, I've been translated!! My informant Ragnar Iversen is one of the proprietors of a Norwegian shipping website specialising in ships from Sandefjord and other ports in Norway. They also have the stories of companies which employed large numbers of Norwegians and wondered if they could use my story of the whaling in Durban. After translating it into Norwegian, of course. The page is linked at the top of the main whaling page here.

Ragnar, now 63, was involved with the sea ever since the age of 15 when he was a mess and galley boy on a whale catcher. He visited South Africa many times during his seagoing career and had a number of relatives that worked in the whaling industry here.

Diary Contents Page | Previous Diary Page | Next Diary Page

Home | Contents | Diary | Orders | Site Search | Contact Us