At the bottom of the last diary page, I included a request for information about the miniature train that used to run on the beachfront. In response, I received the following from my regular correspondent Gerald Buttigieg. I have put the story and pictures up on their own page here.
Picture courtesy Gerald Buttigieg.
My informant Mike Osborne has been touch from the UK with some memories of his father Stan Osborne, who was very involved in the post-WWII entertainment scene in Durban.
He has a couple of pictures posted on his website, here. Among them is a picture of Stan Osborne at the piano, with duo Cliff Harley & Florence Hunter; just scroll down the page a bit.
I've also had an appeal from Johnny Vassilarios, chairman of the Durban Paddleski Club, to help publicise the campaign to save Vetch's Beach from the developers who want to build a small craft harbour there.
All the details are contained in this Word document, which you can download, or you can click on the thumbnail below, to view the campaign poster.
Some might argue that the new decade doesn't start until next year, but it sure feels as if has. Facts About Durban is surging confidently forward to it's seventh birthday later this year. Visitor numbers to the site seem to have stabilised at about 7000 or 8000 per month. View the graph by clicking the thumbnail below:
I am shamefully late in putting up some info and pictures received last year from Gerry Muller. It turns out that Sir Frank Whittle, inventor of the jet engine, visited Durban in 1951, and lost a pencil. I have put up a page on that incident and included some of Gerry' pictures of Durban Wings Club members and of aircraft at Virginia Airport in the early 1960s.
I have a couple of requests for information today. The first is from Brian Mason and regards his mother Olive Stride, who came out with her family to Durban in 1924 aboard the Windsor Castle, from Southampton where she was born.
As far as Brian is aware, the family moved into the lighthouse on the Bluff upon arrival and he assumes they were staying with friends or family. He would welcome any information about the lighthouse staff from 1924-1930 to establish who his mother's family were staying with. Please contact me here if you know anything.
Olive later told Brian stories of how she had to walk down the Bluff, catch a ferry across to the Point, catch a bus to town, catch a bus to Penzance Road Primary School, and then do the same trip in the afternoon. Olive's family were all from the Isle of Wight and were mariners or had a job that was sea related. Brian's uncle Harold Stride worked on the tugs at Durban harbor. The family later moved to 11 Currie Road.
Picture courtesy Brian Mason
The picture is labelleled "Family at the Signal Cabin Xmas 1925" and includes Harold Stride, the young boy on the top right, Brian's grandmother, Milly Stride, is the lady on the right with the dark dress and his mother, Olive Stride is next to her. Brian has no idea who the other couples were and assumes they worked at the lighthouse.
<== Click image to enlarge.
Ronnie Grant asks if anyone knows of a certain shipping incident in the harbour in about 1964. He writes:
Do you know anything of an incident I witnessed around 1964/5 in Durban docks. I was walking through the docks one stormy night when a City boat came in to berth at a high rate of knots. I stopped to watch and sure enough up she came on the wharf and struck the first of three dockside cranes which rocked on its wheels. The second one also rocked when struck but the third one when struck kept coming and I realised I was in the way. There was a tremendous racket of tortured metal and flashing power lines and I dived under a wagon absolutely stunned by what I had seen. I have often wondered what ship she was and what stories her crew could tell. She was an Ellermans (I think), who named their ships,'City of Wellington, Edinburgh etc.,' It would be great if you could give me any information on this matter. Regards Ronnie.
As before, please contact me here, if you know anything.
I've posted a couple of reminiscences for you today. The first comes from Patrick Button and concerns his memories of the Mermaid Lido. My informant Dave Baird had a few things to say about cinemas in Durban, and I have added them to the second cinemas page.
I had a short update from my informant Colin Garvie regarding the grave of Chief Alexander Maclean, who died in Durban in 1875. The location of his grave was previously unknown but, as Colin says, they have more or less established where it is.
For better, or worse, the soccer world cup is upon us. Say what you like about our expensive new Moses Mabhida stadium, it does make an intriguing photographic subject. Here's a panoramic photo I took recently, showing a 180-degree view of the inside.
Picture copyright Allan Jackson 2009.
Click picture to view enlargement.
Storyteller extraordinary Len Jones has contributed two more of his deliciously funny fishing stories. In one, The Japanese Whaler, he amazes the crew of Japanese whaler in Durban Bay and, in Island Rock, he helps to search for the remains of a missing scientist. The stories are linked from his page here.
My informant Clive Dennison has written in with an account of the fate of the locomotive Natal, the first steam locomotive to run in South Africa. The article first appeared in the Natal Witness and I'm very pleased to give it space here. It nicely complements a page I put up when this site was young, and dinosaurs still ruled the earth.
In a humourous aside aside Clive writes:
"Sidney Maytom, who wrote the article about the sneezewood piles, was related (by marriage) to Margaret Maytom, one time mayor of Durban.
She was famous for saying that two-piece swimsuits would only be allowed on Durban's beaches "over her dead body" - which proved to be true. "
6 February 2010
There is quite a lot of stuff for you today. Starting with something unrelated to Durban, I have established a new blog site where I am blogging regularly about computer/online issues, photography and, coming soon, a more general blog with news, views and reviews. You're all more than welcome to drop by for a visit.
I'm publishing stuff all over the place on the Internet and I have started using Twitter to post links to all the stuff I publish. All you have to do is click the button below go to my Twitter page where you can follow me, and be instantly notified when I put up anything new. I will also use it to announce updates to this site.
Follow me on Twitter and get updates on new posts:
I was out and about on the beachfront on 23 January 2010 and took the following picture of progress that's been made on the big revamp.
Click to view an enlargement.
Picture (c) Allan Jackson 2010.
The picture, above, is taken from the south end of Addington Beach, looking north. The 101 Restaurant complex were about where the oile of sand is on the extreme left. The picture below, was taken in front of Ushaka Marine World, looking north towards where the the revamp was taking place.
Click to view an enlargement.
Picture (c) Allan Jackson 2010.
|Material on the The International Arts League of Youth was removed from this location and placed on its own page here.
My informant Rose Enstrom has written to ask if anyone has information for her:
I still keep reading and enjoying the website “Facts about Durban”.
I have been given an article which was written by an uncle (now deceased) regarding his early years on the Bluff which is rather interesting, but needs some clarification and I was hoping that you may be able to assist or one of your readers may be able to do so.
One of the areas to which he moved when 5 years old in 1910 was to “Short’s Corner” and from what I can gather, it was owned by Mr Polly Short who owned all the land extending from the bay near Fynnland to the ocean, and which was known as “Shortlands”?
He also mentions that in those days they would catch the morning train from Short’s Corner to West’s Station to attend Addington School and in the afternoon they would walk home from the ferry at West’s as there was no train service then.
Apparently the ferry across the bay was at that time run by the Benjamins. Would you have any information on the ferries which operated at this time as his account is rather sketchy although I felt honoured to have been given a copy of this article.
Another very interesting part was that a metal bell was rung every day at noon at Mr Armstrong’s farm to call the cattle home for midday milking and the Indians would carry cans of milk along the line to West’s for sale at the Point.
What is of interest here of course, is that my husband’s mother was Ethel Neumann Armstrong and of course I was wondering whether she was related to the cattle owner as his father was living on the Bluff at that time.
I sincerely hope that you may be able to enlighten me with regards to some of the above which I can assure you would be much appreciated.
Nick Fox is writing a book set in Durban in 1989/1990 and would appreciate being reminded of the following:
1. Details on the durban beaches (North, Vechies). [I assume means to ask what was there at the time. Allan]
2. clubs (Community Arts Workshop/Play/Faces/Nello's/early 330) and bars (Balmoral Hotel, Willowvale Hotel; Pig and Whistle) around 1989/1990 that might build a more intricate picture than my memory can. Photos of the above would be the wildcard!
The age group I'm looking at is 16/17 years old.
As for press clippings, I couldn't think of anything specific really. I would love to just pour over a bunch of newspapers from the time but I guess being in Australia, that might prove difficult. I dont suppose you know of any online resource for that sort of thing. I found http://www.disa.ukzn.ac.za which has been slightly useful.
What would be useful would be a copy of the Weekly Mail from 1989. They used to have a Banned column, detailing what the government had banned that week, which used to be a hoot.
9 February 2010
It's quite a long shot but reader Babette Gallard writes:
I am contacting you because you seem to have such a detailed knowledge of Durban and Durban shipping. I am trying to follow-up my mother's WW2 experiences and I have traced her journey, as a 10-year old with her family, to Durban (sailing from Lisbon), from where she went onto Mauritius.
I think my mother and her parents were travelling under the name of Schramm. Father: Medard Leonard. Mother: Sylvia, Maria. Daughter: Bogdana, Maria. However, they seem to have also used English and French names from my grandmother's side: de la Roussliere and Hughes-Hallot.
I have managed to trace the boat she sailed on into Durban, but now I am trying to do the same for the next phase of her journey to Mauritius. I can't say precisely when they sailed but think that it will have been between 10.11.1941 and 6 08.01.1942, a travel permit was issued on 09.01.1942.
Would you have any information about ferries or any other sailings between the two duirng 1941/2?
Readers able to help can contact me here. A list of the shipping which has visited Durban would be quite a holy grail for historians but one has so far resisted being found. You can't imagine the harbour authorities would not have kept a record but, so far, one has not found.
There is a library of railways and harbours heritage material but Transnet apparently can't afford a librarian, and we hear tell that it is not in in use. A certain amount of shipping information is available from contemporary Durban newspapers but not from during the war, because shipping movements were supposed to be secret.
The top entry on this page [and its own page here] concerns the miniature steam engine which once ran on the beachfront. My informant Wade Kidwel has sent in some postcards of that train, and the one that suceeded it. I have put the pictures up on his page here along with another which evoked a lot of memories for me, the Swan Boat at Blue Lagoon.
21 February 2010
Another list of stuff for you today.
I have put up a page on The International Arts League of Youth here, including material from the last two diary pages, and two new pictures.
12 April 2010
I have been offline for quite a while but a lot has happened in the last very sad month. My sisters and I lost our beloved mother very unexpectedly and it has hit us pretty hard.
I'm still in shock and my desire to work on this site is quite frankly zero at the moment. I have no idea what this means for the site because I don't know what my priorities are going to be when I get out of the woods again.
Whatever else happens, I will make sure that the site remains available in the future...
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