Facts About Durban Diary - Page # 25

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1 November 2007

Today I've got a number of things. First, there's a picture of the Imperial Airways flying boat Canopus being built. See the pic on the main flying boat page here.

Next we have some postcards from Wade Kidwell. They include the Marine Parade, South Beach and the Grey Street Mosque. I've tacked them onto the bottom his postcard page here.

Then we've got a picture of the Kenilworth Amusement arcade sent in Barbara Maude-Stone. I have added it to the multi-purpose entertainment page here.

And, finally, some pictures from an e-mail that's currently doing the rounds. I've added some of the pics from that to an album page here.

11 November 2007

Today I 've got quite a bit of new stuff from my 1960s correspondent Dodo, including a picture of someone being served outside the Cuban Hat resaurant. In the same vein, I 've also added two pictures of the Cuban Hat from Allen Shultz. The new additions are both linked from the general purpose Entertainment Page here. Click on the links and scroll down till you get to the new bits and pieces.

26 December 2007

Went for a walk on the beachfront here in Durban this morning and got quite a shock when I realised that the Lido building had been demolished while I wasn't looking. I've put up a page with a couple of pictures here.

I've been neglectful of the site lately but there is a lot more coming in the next few days including more vintage beachfront pictures, whaling memories and lots more besides.

** Verdict on the beachfront after having arrived around 6:30am. It was much cleaner than I've seen it but I feel that more could be done in that direction. Plenty of people were round and about and, although cleaners were also much in evidence, I reckon that the cleaning should start earlier so as to be complete before people start arriving. Maintenance is also an issue with many items of beach furniture and food outlets crying out for renovation, a lick of paint, and for faded signs and awnings to be replaced. If those few measures were taken and some effort made to sort out the grassy areas and tatty plants, our Golden Mile could be a cracker again. Very encouraging was the heavy security in place even at that relatively early hour. There were private security guards, Metro police and SAPS members in such numbers that I doubt that you have thrown a stone and not hit one of them.

27 December 2007

I have checked the site stats and it seems that, with the exception of September 2007 when the site was unavailable for 10 days and I didn't realise it, we seem to be averaging about 8000 unique visitors a month. Here's the latest graph.

Click to view enlargement.

27 December 2007

There was an interesting development on the local history scene late year. It seems that things are moving with regard to the collection and storage of historical info about the city. The Municipal Libraries and Museums, in cooperation with the city's South Durban Basin: Area Based Management body, have begun the process of trying to contact people who participated in the whaling industry in Durban. The aim is to collect stories and reminiscences and to store these online so that they are available to all.

The scheme began with a meeting of interested people late in November at the Chicken Shack, 41 Old Mission Road, on the Bluff. We were treated to a broad outline of the scheme, some background on the whaling industry from John McDonald, and a trip to the whaling station itself. I'll keep you posted when I hear more but I must say that it does sound exciting, especially as I believe that the scheme will be extended to other areas of our history.

The Chicken Shack is an eatery specialising in chicken dishes from around the world but it is especially interesting as owner Dave Neilson has established a mini whaling museum there. He is also one of the movers behind the organisation of tours to the whaling station. The Chicken Shack serves a selection of great Ethiopian coffees; the Rasta Roast being my favourite.

27 December 2007

My informant Malcolm Wesson sent in the following about a memorable character from his school days.

Malcolm wrote:

Who remembers Ralph?

In her book 'Frankie & Stankie' Barbara Trapido mentions 'Ralph' who 'was at Daffy School' and also in the local Berea Scouts as a cub. In fact he was very much older than the rest of his pack and stood head and shoulders above them.

Ms Trapido's book describes 'growing-up' on the Berea in Durban in the immediate post-war years and her experiences and mine intersect. I too remember Ralph but find he being described as 'daffy' somewhat insensitive. It's also ironic because she leaves no doubt as to her opposition to the injustices and abuses of human rights in South Africa at the time, but sees no harm in being dismissive about an unfortunate person such as Ralph…..but enough of that.

I first became aware of Ralph when I ran the Junior Cross-Country race at Glenwood High School in 1956. In those days it was a short road race using a route up McDonald Road, Princess Alice Avenue, Lamont Road and back down to the School via Manning Road.

We were urged on by a man clad in brown shorts, long stocks and wearing a sports jacket keeping pace with us on a bicycle. He was then (I think) in his forties and I soon learnt that Ralph's mental development had been arrested by either injury or something like encephalitis. The poor chap had a ten year old brain in an adult and aging body.

Ralph had been part of the Berea Park mob and thus was a supporter of Durban High School (DHS) but if they had no sports fixture on or were not playing against Glenwood, then he would be our man on the touch-line.

As mentioned earlier, Ralph was a keen member of the Cubs. He was very proud of this but even more so when he eventually passed all his tests and became a Scout. He arrived at a match at Glenwood decked out in his full uniform very proudly wearing all his badges to show his enhanced status.

Poor dear harmless Ralph! You are a part of the collective memory of hundreds of DHS and Glenwood boys who remember you with fondness. Oh how your parents must have worried and suffered anguish over you.

Ralph was eventually knocked off his bicycle by a motor car in Essenwood Road and killed. He was lucky, in some ways, never to leave the carefree days of childhood.

Anyone knowing any more details about Ralph is welcome to contact me here.

Jeff Gaisford very kindly sent me a picture of a Catalina flying boat landing on Durban bay and I have put it up on my military flying boat page here. Some time ago, Jeff contributed articles on the flying boats and you can read them here and here.

2 January 2008

What I love about doing this site are the sometimes incredible coincidences that come about through people finding the site. Within the space of a week or two last year, I received a picture and a set of memoirs from two Durban students who had spent time aboard the whaling factory ship Abraham Larsen.

The picture, taken by Myron Schultz in 1955/56, came from Henry Beitz and the memoirs came from Rein Pirn. All three were aboard the Abraham Larsen during her last season in the Antarctic for the Union Whaling Company in 1956/7. I have put up Rein's memoirs and the picture on their own page which is linked from the top of the main whaling page.

14 February 2008

Later this month we are due to host an A1 street race for the third time. I was aware that there had been street races held here in the past, over some of the same course as the modern ones have been. I'm very grateful to Marius Mathee for permission to reprint his story about the 1948 Fairfield Handicap held here. I've put up a page for the race here.

On the previous diary page, see here, I have a mention of Durban resident Mike Hutchons who competed in the race in 1949.

25 February 2008

Today, I've got a really huge page for you. It consists of all the text and some of the maps and pictures from a booklet put out in 1930 or 1931 by the Durban Corporation, The Durban Publicity Association and the SA Railways and Harbours Administration. Called Industrial Durban, the purpose was to attract new industries to Durban.

There is a fair amount of waffle in the book but it does provide a great snapshot of the town at the time. There are many details about the industries already existing in Durban and about the facilities and raw materials available to the industrialist considering setting up here. Included are all the things that such people would have wanted to know, including the cost of water, electricity and land.

Even though the Great Depression was on at the time, there is a thread running through the book that great things were on their way for Durban. The borough was quite small at the time and only comprised the area between the Umbilo and Umgeni Rivers and inland as far as Ridge Road. Plans were afoot to incorporate other areas such as Mayville (see here for more detail), and it was expected that Durban would soon be linked to the rest of the world by an airship service. Reflected in the book is the belief that there simply wasn't a finer place than Durban to start a new industry.

Unfortunately, it does, in some places, reflect the prevailing racial and paternalistic attitudes of the time. The other content of the book is valuable so I decided to include it uncensored on the site as an historical document. View the page here.

13 March 2008

Does anyone know where one can find old Durban promotional and travel film and video footage? I'm thinking it would nice to have a library of it on the web.

There's been a slight update to Rose Enstrom's page of memories. My informant Hans-Dieter Winkens has a few details about her and husband Aubrey's first car.

Coming soon: A write-up on the great storm of 1905, which is quite appropriate when you consider that we had a storm this week which has been described as a 1 in 50 or 100 year event.

15 March 2008

I have added a weblog section to this site which I will use to note news stories about Durban which catch my eye. Residents will probably know most of what I put there but it will hopefully be more interesting for the many expatriates who visit this site.

See the blog pages here.

27 May 2008

Over the past while I have been receiving a lot of information on various subjects. I'll start today with a page on a tragic aircrash in 1943, in which eight out of nine crew were killed when their Catalina flying boat crashed on take-off from Lake St. Lucia.

At least four of them were buried in Stellawood Cemetery. Included on the page are pictures from the funeral of Sgt. RT Cork, who is just one of the many foreign military personnel buried in the city. View the page here.

28 May 2008

See my Dateline Durban blog for news on developments at Durban Transport. Otherwise, I have a new page on the big storm we had on 11 March 2008, which was described at the time, as a a once-in-100-year event. By some strange quirk of coincidence, Durban experienced an epic storm just over 100 years earlier and there's some stuff on that too.

5 June 2008

My informant John Taylor has contributed some of his memories of growing up in Durban in the early 1960s. Filed under the heading of Beaches, the Bioscope and milkshakes, you can read them here. And, if you haven't been there yet, why not try our big page of Durban memories here.

17 June 2008

There are now a couple more entries on the Dateline Durban blog attached to the site. I've been making notes of some current developments here in Durban.

I once sent some info on the sinking of the Nova Scotia to Tullio Mascellari in Italy. He has now produced book on the subject and you can get more details on from his website.

That reminds me that I did promise to collect all the bits and pieces on the Nova Scotia from various locations on the site and put them together on a page and so, here it is.

25 June 2008

Today we have an evocative piece from Dave Baird about Durban eateries he was fond of, 1976-1993. Let me know if you have favorites he hasn't mentioned.

22 July 2008

Damn. There was a server disater and all the records of visits to this site between November 2007 and June 2008 were lost. I only found out thanks to timely reminder from Gerald Buttigieg otherwise even more might have lost. The only envouraging thing is that the figures for June were not far off the all-time monthly record. In that month there were 11592 visitors to the site who viewed a total of 21044 pages. Check out the graph below.

Don't forget that I've started a blog on current issues to do with Durban which catch my eye. Check it out here and don't forget that, if you can cope with site feeds, you can arrange to be notified every time there is an update on the blog.

** There are also additions to the Nova Scotia page with some details from Tullio Mascellari about his nook on the subject. There is also news of a new book on the subject by my correspondent Valeria Isacchini.

23 July 2008

Today we have some wonderful memories of some of John Taylor's favourite watering holes. He mentions the Cumberland Hotel in whose action bar, the Jolly Roger, my circle of friends also passed a lot of time. I dimly seem to remember an entertainer called Les Hanslo who introduced us to songs such as Dinah show us a leg and The hairs on her dicky dido. This knowlege was to prove to be very useful to me during my stint in the army. Read the article here.

25 July 2008

I have been thinking about this site quite a lot in the past few months and have concluded that I could do so much more on it if I could persuade you all to help with an occasional donation.

As I explain on the donations page, there is no idea ever to charge for access to the site but some support would be most welcome. I have put up a donations page and links to it will start appearing on other pages throughout the site. Just click on a link and you will be taken to the donation page which has more information.

Please to support this site.

9 August 2008

Today I have a page for you that I've been meaning to put up for some time. It's a write-up on an informational leaflet which was produced for the benefit of troops stopping off here during World
War II. It's a period in our history that fascinates me because of the city's extreme strategic importance to the Allied war effort. We provided a safe haven where battle-damaged ships could be repaired, casualties nursed back to health and where troops could rest and relax en-route to and from the battlefields.

See the Welcome to Durban page here.

21 August 2008

Wade Kidwell has been busy adding to his postcard collection and has been kind enough to share them with us. There are a lot of vintage beachfront pictures from the (60s and 70s ??) that are bound to bring back memories. I'd be very grateful if anyone can help information to the captions and especially the dates. Read the page here.

I have also been keeping a Dateline Durban blog on contemporary issues and events in Durban. Today I'm very pleased to welcome guest blogger Niki Moore with some of her thoughts on the street renaming.

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