My regular informant Donald Davies wrote in to ask with assistance in tracking down more details of his Aunt, Shirleen Gilbert, who was well known in music circles in Durban. Apart from owning a record shop in Plowright Building, she was a patron of the Durban Civic Orchestra. Donald sent in some interesting scans of the orchestra's program for September 12, 1957, containing both a profile of Shirley and an advert for her shop. I have coverted the profile into text (don't you love the language of that era?) and put the scans on the page below that. Please contact me if you can add any more on Shirley or, indeed, the orchestra itself.
"One oldest of Durban's lanes is Plowright Lane, which runs between West and Pine Streets and it is here, up on the first floor of Plowright Building, that the busy musical business of Shirlccn Gilbert & Company is tucked away. Air-conditioned and with a quiet charm, the salon lends itself to record browsing and buying and the husband-and-wife team of Llewellyn and Shirleen Gilbert is always on hand to advise and assist.
"This very successful business was started by vivacious Mrs. Shirleen Gilbert, whose career in records and record-playing equipment goes back to 1945 when she took charge of the record department of a Johannesburg store. Sorne years later, her husband was transferred to Durban and Shirleen bade farewell not only to her friends, but to her life in the world of recorded music … for she had no intention of resuming her work in that field in Durban.
"But her love of music was too strong, in 1953 she opened a business in a very small fifth floor shop in West street, handling original paintings, hand-made pottery and hand woven articles … plus a few selected records. Gradually, the records took control until there was no time for anything else. Within 18 months Shirleen could no longer manage on her own and so her husband joined her. By 1955, the Gilbert's found it necessary to look for larger premises in order to cope with the expansion of the business and moved to 5, Plowright Building.
"Although specialising mainly in classical, educational and children's records. Shirleen Gilbert also stocks a wide range of jazz, popular, dance, and folk records.
"Well-known in music circles in Durban, the Gilbert's are active members of the Durban Music Society They share many unusual interests, one of which is ornithology and Shirleen has spent many years in patiently taping bird calls, whilst Llewellyn specialises in bird photography Shirleen herself includes among her many 'hobbies' philately, education. wildlife preservation, philosophy and reading."