Taylor - July 2008
with interest Dave Baird's reminiscences
of eateries in Durban in the 70's and 80's.
late 60's I was employed as an articled clerk in a firm of
accountants, whose offices were situated in what was then
the JBS building on the corner of Field and West Streets.
not cut out to be an accountant, and together with a number
of fellow articled clerks, we hated the routine of checking
clients' accounting records during the day, and attending
lectures in the evening at the University of Natal City Buildings,
situated across the road from what was then the market at
the south end of West Street. To
combat boredom, any opportunity to quench our thirsts was
were a number of places that we visited in the Durban CBD.
The Central Hotel in West Street had not yet been demolished,
and apart from the somewhat seedy men's bar, there was a "beer
garden" at the back of the hotel that served cold draught
beer and fiery Natal curries. The Riviera Hotel on the esplanade
had an upstairs lounge featuring a live band that often played
during "cocktail hours".
was the Al Fresco Terrace, also on the Esplanade, at which
the Flames played (the Flames were an extremely popular band
comprising the three Fataar brothers and Blondie Chaplin),
and the peculiarity taking into consideration the apartheid
laws of the time, was that they were non-white! When we felt
the need for a bit of class, we visited the Royal Hotel, which
was then not the developed (and somewhat fading) monolith
of today, but still in its earlier format. We either went
to the Ulundi Bar, or to the Cellar where we consumed vast
quantities of beer and cheese platters (or was it the other
way around?). We stayed away from the nearby Playhouse Lounge,
which was frequented by the rough element and featured regular
were in the Berea area, there was quite a choice - the Los
Angeles Hotel (or "LA") which was well known known
to most young Durbanites of the 60's, 70's, and 80's; and
the Caister, Osborne, and Milner Gardens Hotels.
were conducted in the Umbilo area, I recall that the Willowvale
Hotel also served a good curry, and the barman at the Outspan
Hotel was forever pointing out that its bar was the longest
the hotel groups that we audited belonged to the Gooderson
family, and this provided the excuse to forego lectures and
move directly from work to the Bullring at the Lonsdale. I
recall sitting in a lounge at the Claridges Hotel trying to
audit their books, and being subjected to Four Jacks and a
Jill rehearsing for most of the day in the Cookie Look (or
had the name changed by then to the Cat's Whiskers?).
realise that it was necessary to play bits of "I Love
You Timothy" for six or seven hours at a time, to perfect
the song, and it nearly drove me mad. I seem to recall that
the other group that played there was Alain D. Woolf and the
Stereos. Anyway, it was a place that we didn't go to very
Hotel had a men's bar that was a pricey, but very festive
at times. I can't recall its name**, but I remember that they
had a waiter / general assistant called Tiger. Tiger was a
huge Zulu, who often demonstrated his ability to carry a tray
loaded with draught beers in one hand, which was a tremendous
feat of strength.
bars that we regularly visited were the Cumberland, and the
Blue Waters - the tiny bar at the back of the Blue Waters
hotel is probably the only one still operating. I'm
sure that many Durbanites in my age group will have fond memories
of the good times and camaraderie that were enjoyed in these
** 16 January 2011: Reader David Vickery has written in to say that the bar where Tiger worked was called the El Gaucho.