Edith Sherry's Flying Boat Trip To Durban

Edith Sherry was born on 24 February 1900 and came out to South Africa with her family in 1914. She worked from an early age for Hillman Brothers timber merchants in the Transvaal. She eventually became company secretary and was reputed to be the highest-paid woman in South Africa. She took a trip to the UK in 1937 for the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth on 12th May, 1937. She made the trip there by ship and returned to South Africa on the flying boat Castor, which departed Southampton on 21st August 1937. Grosvenor Court in Durban, where she lived in later life, was built by one of the Hillman brothers who offered Edith a flat in it. She rented, and eventually bought it, after her move to Durban in 1958. Allan Jackson.


Edith Sherry (circa 1936)

From the diary of Edith Sherry

Friday 20/8/37

Left Waterloo at 7.30 pm travelled by Imperial Airways Pullman Car to Southampton. Spent night at South Western Hotel.

Saturday 21/8/67

Was called at 6.45 am. Got an awful shock had £13.2.6d. excess luggage to pay. Left by Hotel Bus for Docks. Left Docks by Motor Boat, the Flying Boat "CASTOR" looked lovely out in Southampton water. Took off at 8.30 sm. Glorious morning bright and sunny. Perfect take-off. Passengers - 5 men and myself. Coffee or Bovril served at 10.30 am. Arrived Marseilles 12.30 pm, and went ashore. Left.one passenger. Left Marseilles 2 pm. Had lunch on board. Wonderful view of cloud effects. Also had wonderful view of Swiss Alps en route.
Arrived Rome 4.30 pm. An hour's drive by Imperial Airways Bus to Grand Hotel De Russie. Tea ready on arrival. I had tea with two gentlemen, one travelling to Durban and the other to Alexandria. Very nice suite of rooms. Dinner at 8 pm. In garden of Hotel, fairy lights and lanterns hanging from the trees and a lamp on each table, very pretty effect. After dinner had walk through the gardens with one of the Officers. I asked him if was possible for us to come down on land and his reply was "only once" (We landed on the sea, river, or lake each time, in case of a forced landing on land, the flying boat would be damaged badly)

Sunday 22/8/37

Up at 3.45 am. Breakfast at 4.15 am. Left Hotel by Imp. Airways Bus at 4.45 a.m. for boat. Took off 6am. prompt for Brindisi. Weather perfect and very warm, watched glorious sunrise. Arrived Brindisi 9 am. left again 9.45 am. Morning tea 10 am. on board. Arrived Athens 12.30 pm (the time goes on here one hour so it becomes 1.30 pm). Left again half an hour later 2 pm. Lunch served on board at 2.30 pm. Now on long hop across Mediterranean, 510 nautical miles to Alexandria. Took one passenger on board at Athens. Arrived Alexandria 5.30 pm. Had tea in Customs House. Dropping 3 passengers here, leaving only 3 of us for further journey. Staying at Hotel Cecil, nice suite of rooms. Weather very warm. Dinner at 8 pm. Had Dinner with the remaining 2 passengers, then had a stroll with them on the sea front.

Monday 23/8/37

Called at 5.15 am. Left Hotel 6.15am. Officers in summer Khaki Uniforms this morning. Have taken on another passenger, now 3 men and myself. Arrived Cairo 7.45 am. Had Breakfast on deck of Imperial Airways Houseboat. Lovely cool breeze blowing. Took off again 8.30 am. Two more men passengers came on board. Nice view of Pyramids and the Valley of the Kings from the air. Arrived Luxor l0.45am. Nice trip on River Nile by Motor Launch, sipping iced coffee. Left Luxor 11.15 am. Lovely view of ruins. Arrived Wadi Halfa 1.15 pm. but did not go ashore. Left again 1.50 pm. Arrived Khartoum 5.pm. Long drive to Grand Hotel. Lovely rooms. Iced coffee and cakes served on Balcony on arrival. Dinner at 8. pm , with young fellow from Durban, then chatted on the Verandah until 10.30 pm. Weather very hot.

Tuesday 24/8/37

Up at 4.30 am. Lovely drive to boat, glorious morning, beautiful sunrise. Took off at 6 am. Back to three passengers. Arrived Malakal at 8.45am. had breakfast at Imperial Airways Station, very nice house on river bank, lovely garden. Left again 10.30am. Reached Beauty Harbour 2.15pm. Went for motor boat ride on Lake Albert. Glorious lake. Had wonderful view of Murchison Falls en route. Saw enormous swarm of locusts stretching for miles. Very bumpy flight to port Bell. Arrived Port
Bell 4.30 pm. (time on 30 minutes here, now 5.pm.) Nice drive to Hotel at Kampala. Lovely rooms. Quite a pretty town. Weather lovely, no sticky heat here altitude about 4000'.

Wednesday 25/8/37

Called at 4.30 am. Left Hotel 5.15 am for Port Bell, took off at 6am. dawn. Saw lovely sunrise. Flying fairly low, lovely views of pretty country and native kraals. Arrived Kisumu 7.25 am. Had breakfast at Kisumu Hotel and then a walk round the town. Left again 10.10am. Arrived Mombasa 1.15pm. Lunch at Manor Hotel. Left again 3pm. Nice cool breeze blowing. Took on a lot of mail and two men passengers. Arrived Dar-es-salaam 5pm. After tea had walk round and then Dinner at 8. pm. went to bed at10pm.

Thursday 26/8/37

Up at 5.am. Took off from Dar-es-salaam 6.am. Nice flight no bumps. Back to 3 passengers. Arrived Lindi 7.45am Left again 8.30 am. l3,500ft. up, very very cold but steady. Arrived Mozambique 11.15am. Just as we landed we saw the north bound machine take off. A lovely sight, she circled round us and dipped in salute. Had trip round Harbour in Motor Launch. Left again at 12 noon. Arrived Quelimane 2.40pm. Left again 3.pm but did not go ashore. Arrived Beira 4.45 pm. Staying at the Savoy Hotel (the worst Hotel on the route, the only place where I did not have private bathroom etc.,) Lovely day not too hot. Time goes back 30 minutes here.

Friday 27/8/37

Up at 5.30am. Took off at 6.45 am. Lovely flight, saw lots of game. One more passenger, man from Beira. Arrived Lourenco Marques 9.45 am. Went ashore for a few minutes. Offloaded the mail for the Rand. (Record mail) Left again 11.15am. Weather perfect. Took on 5 passengers, 3 men and two ladies) Had lunch on board. Arrived Durban 1.30 pm. and had tea on Salisbury Island. Was met by Mr.& Mrs. Stewart, and driven by them to Durban Airport. Left Durban , 3.15 pm. in "Sir Benjamin D'Urban" and arrived the Rand Airport 5.l5pm. Thrilling welcome. Found all the family very well.

So ends my trip by Air from Southampton to Johannesburg. I enjoyed every moment, and have nothing but praise for the organization, all arrangements were perfectly carried out, and everything was done for the comfort of passengers.


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