Facts About Durban Diary - Page # 27

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20 January 2009

Today, I've got another contribution from Gerald Buttigieg in the form of a picture he got from the 1952/53 annual covering the Holy Family Convents in Durban.

St. Joseph's in Broad Street.
Picture courtesy Gerald Buttigieg.  

Gerald wrote:

"I have been given a year book dating to 1952/53 relating to the Holy Family Convents in Durban at the time.  The Holy Family Congregation  were associated with Maris Stella, the Convent School in  St Andrew's Street, St Josephs on the corner of Broad and Smith, St Agnes in Stamford Hill Road, St. Augustine's Coloured School ( I think was near the Greyville Racecourse),  St . Anthony's  Indian School (also near the racecourse), and St Francis Xavier's African School on the Bluff which I know nothing about

Unfortunately  not many photos of the schools themselves and more of the class rooms but one of St Joseph's is there. I remember it on the corner of Smith and Broad Street. The Durdoc Centre now stands on the site. The convent was behind the school. You can just make it out as the double storey building. The school dated back to 1876.  It was pulled down in the 1960s because traffic noise and its situation had changed. The Convent in St Andrew's Street then took over until the new Convent was built at the top of Francois Road in 1962. As far as I know, there are one or two nuns left at Maris Stella, most of the others are now private Catholic schools."

21 January 2009

My informant Barry Livesy was kind enough to send in his memories of the days he worked on the train transporting whales from the slipway on the bay side of the Bluff to the whaling station. I have linked his page from the top of the main whaling page here.

I have also put up three pages of pictures (here, here and here) which I took on three occasions when visiting the site of the harbour entrance widening project. There are also a great couple of aerial pictures showing progress on the job.

25 January 2009

I decided to check the record of visitors to the site and found that the measuring apparatus was out of action for a couple of months last year, without my being any the wiser. I'll never know exactly how many visited during that time but it now seems as if we have in excess of 8000 visits each month. Click the graph below to see how things have been going.

1 February 2009

I received the following letter from reader Joan de Jager:

I am an old Durbanite (90). I remember the old bioscope in Gardiner Street near to the railway station -- we could pay seven pence for a matinee, and after the show -- walk over to Model Dairy for an ice cream or milkshake.

Tennison Burrows was next door -- and if we had any pocket money left -- we could buy our comics there. I remember the dead man's tree with funeral notices (white edged with black) nailed to it. Then almost next to the Post Office in West Street were the Town Baths -- my old gran and myself would take a Turkish bath for threepence and that included a good scrub by an attendant -- I remember the old Criterion (Theatre. cnr Broad Street?) on the Esplanade and much more.

3 March 2009

I have had some more information on Durban's cinemas and have put it up on a second page I've created for the cinema section. I also found a nice picture of the Empire Cinema and put it up there as well. The first cinema page was here.

4 March 2009

Here's a very nice page of reminiscences written by Joan de Jager who also contributed to the cinemas page. The stuff on the page was written on her 90th birthday.

11 March 2009

Today I've got a picture which I can't positively identify or date. I think it is of the cruiser HMS Powerful leaving Durban. The vessel did visit these parts during the Anglo Boer War and, with her sister ship HMS Terrible, sent landing parties to fight in the relief of Ladysmith. Can anyone confirm or deny?

Click to view enlargement.

11 March 2009

I have the following picture from Rolfe Mathews. All we know is that the picture was taken in Durban and that the vessel's name is Pommern. Any info, including date, will be most welcome.

Added 27 July 2009: Reader John Taylor send in some details which I've put up here on the page of sailing ships to have visited Durban.

Picture courtesy Rolfe Matthews.
Click to view enlargement.

11 March 2009

I've added a couple of pictures to the page on the harbour entrance widening. See them here.

Also, I've had these pictures of Cave Rock for a while and I thought I'd put them up. Cave Rock, located on the seaward side of the Bluff very near the tip, was a great Durban landmark until blown up at the beginning of WWII. One theory to account for the destruction was that it was done to prevent the enemy using it as a landmark. More plausible was that it interfered with field of fire of the nearby gun batteries, and thus had to go.

Pictures courtesy Dave Karlsen.

Click to view enlargements.

11 March 2009

I'm having a productive phase again, it seems. Digging through my In-box I came across a response by reader Honor Rorvik to my article on Durban cinemas in Kwana newspaper. Read her reminiscences here.

Does anyone know anything about the Women's Aviation Association (WAA) which existed in Durban in 1948, at least? Reader Lorraine Hurt was a member and a pupil pilot at Stamford Hill Aerodrome. She gave up flying when she was married and has regretted it ever since. In a 'isn't this a small world?' coincidence, her husband Buster was in 24 Squadron of the SAAF with my father and they may have known each other. She wrote:

"Your information on the training airfield at Reunion/Isipingo brought back many memories, as my home was at Umbogintwini, and on a daily train trip to and from Durban, I was able to see from the train the Kittyhawks taking off and landing.  It was depressing to see how many of them crashed - pilot error in some cases."

23 March 2009

Advertising rears its ugly head all over the place and the latest ad-free zone to fall victim is Facts About Durban. Adverts first appeared on the Search page a couple of weeks ago and they are gradually going to spread throughout the site.

I decided last year that the site was a hell of a lot of work of work and that it needed to at least pay its web hosting charges and, preferably, make a bit over and above that to recompense me for my time. The time I've spent would, at a rough guess, probably amount to two or more years of full-time work.

I managed to find a way of accepting payments over the web and Donate buttons started appearing all over the site in July last year. The site attracts over 8000 visitors a month meaning that there have been more than 64000 visitors since then and, of all those, three kind souls have found it in their hearts to make a donation.

Clearly, then, the Donation scheme isn't working and that's the reason for the appearance of the adverts. I would prefer for there to be no advertising and will look at removing it if things improve as far as donations go.

If you value the site and want to help:

First prize
Make a donation. It's quick and easy and means becoming a member of the global online payment service PayPal. Being a member has the added benefit that it makes all your online payments more secure because the payee (me) is never party to your financial details. See here for more details about PayPal and here to go to my donation page.

Second prize
I do get a small benefit from Google from the adverts displayed on the site, but only if you click on them. You are bound to encounter adverts showcasing stuff you're interested in and it would be appreciated if you would take the time to click on them and visit the advertisers' web sites.

I'd also be open to sponsorship and/or advertising deals to showcase your goods and services on the site.

28 March 2009

One of the subjects I'm pursuing this at the moment is the early days of Rock and Roll music in Durban. An interesting thing about the phenomenon was that it was played in a number of venues in hotels which became known as Cookie Looks. The original venue of that name was at the Claridges Hotel and the name spread from there. There are a number of references to Cookie Look and Rock and Roll on this site and I will, time, collect all them all together.

A search of the site will find them but, in the meantime, I have put up a page with some of the bits on it which I extracted for a recent article in the Kwana newspaper. See the page here for the article and one response I've had from the story so far.

there's a special treat in form of some extracts from three volumes of fishing memoirs published by Durban fisherman Len Jones. He started his fishing career a while after after WWII and is still at it. He outlines his experiences, which included many close calls, in an interesting and amusing way. Visit his page on the site here.

28 April 2009

Today, we have a couple of things. They include:

  • Some new pictures added to the whaling section. Go to the main whaling page and click the John Trudgeon link at the top right-hand side of the page.

  • A music request card and comments by Gerald Buttigieg on the group Dunny & the Showmen. Go to the Cookie Look page and scroll down to the entry for April 2009.

20 June 2009

I wonder if anyone knows anything about the ballroom dancing scene in Durban just after WWII. My informant Tilly Conway (née Behn) was a pupil at the Donovan Sisters' dance studio, where she and a group of advanced amateurs were taught by Joyce Donovan.

The picture accompanying this article shows the group in about 1947 or 1948 with a pile of the silverware that they had won in competitions. Tilly tells me that the dancers worked very hard and she remembers that, when preparing for competitions, she would dance every day at lunch time and then again in the evenings.

Advanced amateur dancers from Joyce and Thelma Donovan's studio in about 1947 or 1948. Many of the names have been forgotten but in the back row, 3rd from left, is Alli Wilson, 7th from left is Dennis Conway, and 9th from left is Ken Donovan. Tilly Conway (née Behn) is on the left in the middle, Carlton Redman is at front left, while at 5th, 6th and 7th from left, are Joyce Donovan, Laura Beeton and Brian Conway.

<-- Click image to view enlargement.

Picture courtesy Tilly Conway

I have heard stories from those days with people remembering the regular dances held at many venues around the city including the Athlone Hotel. Open-air dances were held at the amphitheatre on the beachfront and what a marvellous sight it must have been, with everyone in their formal wear and with real music playing.

On a far less glamourous era, I have put together a page of my reminiscences about Durban nightlife as I experienced it in the mid-late 1970s. Read on here.

29 June 2009

Thanks to Nicole Couto-Leite who sent in the following picture postcard of the Hotel that once stood in the entrance to the harbour. See here for more details.

Picture courtesy Nicole Couto-Leite

Click to view enlargement

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