Theater Memories

posted in: Mini Memories | 5

Reader Belinda dropped a comment on the very popular Arcades of Durban post and it raised so many memories I thought it should have its own post. She wrote:

Reading all these posts have brought a flood of memories … I can’t remember whether it was Murchies Passage or Salisbury Arcade, but in the early 70s there was a shop that sold hippie paraphernalia, adjacent to the flagship Wimpy. On Saturdays, the Dbn hippie community (and part-time hippies) would hang out there, flowing onto the pavement surrounding the shop – much to the horror of the older generation. Watching Steve Fataar play at the YMCA one afternoon before the police declared the gathering illegal … the gig moved to a commune in Ritson Road, they could not stop the music no matter how hard they tried …

Later the shop Bilbo opened on the cnr of an arcade (Murchies or Salisbury … the memory is rusty) and Smith street, their clothes were the rage around 1976/7 offering alternatives for matric dances to the hideous trilobal dresses that flooded the market then … Bilbo’s harem pants and tunic were considered super hot in during 1977. In the early 80s I was based at the Little Abbey Theatre in Commercial road and we would get our eye kajal and sandalwood soaps from a little shop in Ajmeri Arcade.

Also remember with many fond memories the Oriental Bazaar that was situated on Commercial road, nearer the beach side, great place to buy puzzle rings. Back in the 60s had ballet lessons on the second floor of an old building in the lane that led from the top of Russell Street to the Emmanuel Cathedral. Will never forget climbing the rickety old wooden staircase to the strains of castanets and Spanish dancing at Pat Farman’s ballet school. Seminal memories… also visits to Carnival and Backstage in Payne’s Building to buy ballet shoes… the smell of grease paint that hit one on entering … evocative smells that no longer exist in the entertainment industry. Read More

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Evacuee to visit Durban

posted in: InfoRequests | 1

Susan Woodville wrote in to ask if anyone knew her father during his time in Durban. She wrote:

My father (Stephen Woodville) was an evacuee in Durban during WW2 – he came from the UK about aged 10 to live with his uncle Bob Woodville (and his cousin Bert Woodville). He sang as a chorister in St Thomas’ church, joined their scout group and became asst. scout master. He LOVED his 10 years in durban. After leaving school there, he joined BOAC as a radio engineer on the flying boats in Durban Harbour, before returning to the UK. He is now 91 years and in good health and will be visiting Durban 30 October 2018 to 6 November. Does anyone remember him?

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Durban’s St Joseph’s Churches

posted in: New Articles | 0

Gerald Buttigieg has added some new material to his 2013 page on Durban’s St Joseph’s Churches.



St Joseph’s in its various guises (schools and churches) has been a very popular topic on this website and is mentioned in many different pages and posts. One such post is a picture sent in by Bianca Lawrence which resulted in a storm of reader interest. There are many others, however, and I urge you to use the site search to track them all down.

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Durban’s Woes

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

I have not had a Daily News newspaper in years but yesterday there were a couple of copies left and the main page headline caught my eye so I bought one. I think many of our Durbanites living overseas who visit this site may be shocked by the three stories I found on just two pages. I post the articles in their entirety for your information. All I can say is Dear old Durban.


Rachel Finlayson Baths




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Robert E Lee

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

Reader Mark Sandison wrote in a while ago in response to David Baird’s article on the watering holes of his youth and to throw more light on the Los Angeles Hotel and, in particular, how the Robert E Lee got its name. He wrote:

Wow, a real nostalgic trip. Yeah, knew all those pubs as I’m sure did most of our generation.

The upper pub at the Los Angeles hotel was called the Robert E Lee. It was named by the owner of the hotel, Peter Paget, after his adopted son named Robert, and, of course, the US Confederate General. I was told that directly by the man himself at his house at 347 Innes Road just before he and his wife Daphne were to open the newly refurbished pub. (I had been going out with his daughter Anne for a couple of years)

The pub had a huge mural of a Mississippi steamboat wheeler on one of the walls.

Peter and Daphne Paget were some of the nicest people I had ever met and they would have made great in-laws. Peter would go every weekday to the Los Angeles hotel at 9.30am to check on how well his hotel had done the day and night before. He would return for lunch at 12.30pm. I always admired his 3-hour workday. Even though reasonably wealthy, they were totally unpretentious and I appreciated this even more. They seemed to have a wonderful balance in life of true values.

Incidentally, Peter Paget’s father was a mining engineer whose company was involved in the gold mines and got the contract to build the cable way in Cape Town. He was the first person to go up the cableway in an iron bathtub that had to be used to test out the cableway as no cable cars had yet been built.

Sadly Peter Paget died on 8th of March 1988 aged 65, Daphne Paget on 23 April 2010 aged 83 and Robert Paget on 3rd March 2011 aged 56.

The last I heard, Anne Paget was thinking of selling her property on Innes Road and emigrating to New Zealand to be with her daughter and family. Sadly the emigration option sensibly chosen by many white South Africans in the new and miserably failing South Africa.

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posted in: Uncategorized | 0

The second in the series of unanswered emails discovered recently was from Rod Southey who sent in a submission about his father Robert ‘Bob’ Oscar Southey’s (1914-1994) service with the South African Airforce in WWII. Of particular interest to FAD is that he was the pilot who flew two of the first Harvard Trainers from Durban’s Stamfordhill Airport, where they had been assembled, to Swartkops Air Force Base. Rod wrote:

On the 30th April 1940, he flew the second Harvard trainer from Durban’s Stamford Hill Aerodrome (where it had been assembled) to Swartkops. His logbook records a time of 2hrs 20min at a mean height of 9000′. He also flew the third Harvard from Durban to CFS Swartkops on the 7th May 1940.

These two events were to reach a climax many years later, in 1990, when he was honoured at the 50th anniversary celebration of the Harvard at CFS Dunnottar. Imagine his delight, when he was fetched by a Harvard from Middelburg Tvl.(where he was staying with his son Rodney) to be flown to Dunnottar and being allowed to handle the controls again. This at the age of 76!

We also have a story on this site about Reg Sweet who was stationed at Stamfordhill Airport when the Harvards arrived and I feel sure that he and Bob Southey would have crossed paths at the time.

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Epic Management Fail

posted in: Pictures | 0

Things have been known to happen slowly around here but I surpassed myself with the recent rediscovery of an email folder dating back to the time while I was moving to Brisbane and settling down. The folder is marked ‘Hold’ and contains 80 messages from the readers that I intended to get to ASAP. I didn’t mean it to take six or seven years but that’s how the cookie crumbled and I apologise to all concerned.

The first message on the list came from Mario Pascoal and included what looked like scans of some colour slides. The quality wasn’t great but I picked out these two showing the front of Louis Botha Airport and a view of Tollgate Being Built.



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Maternity Homes

posted in: InfoRequests | 3

Friend of Facts About Durban William Paterson is keen to know what nursing or maternity home a Durban woman would have gone to to give birth in 1919/20. I do know that St Augustine’s and Addington were in existence by then but can’t confirm they would have been the maternity facilities of choice. Please leave a comment below if you know anything.

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City Police Request

posted in: InfoRequests | 0

Reader Hennie Heymans is asking for information and pictures on the Borough/City Police. He wrote:

I am Hennie Heymans, born and bred in Durban – joined the SA Police (1964) graduated at UND (1969) and for my sins was transferred to Pretoria – saw the whole country and great parts of the world BUT never came back to Durban – the nearest was about 18 months in PMB.
I am the editor of the Nongqai an on-line police & national security magazine and “History Without Malice.” I am very interested in the history of Durban and also more specifically in the Durban Borough Police and the Durban City Police. I am also very interested in the African Police who served in Durban – the so-called “Black Jacks” of the Durban Corporation.
I am looking for photos of all the old Borough Police stations – some are mentioned in Rev Jewell’s book (a history of the force) but I find no photos. The Water Police was founded by the Durban Borough Police and in 1894 the Natal Police took over and in the 1920 the Borough Police again took over for a while.
Anyway when I have completed my research I would like to share it with you and your readers. If you have any information I would greatly appreciate it. If any readers have anecdotal history they are welcome to share with me.
Leave a comment if you know anything or email to the address on the Contact Page.
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Site Stats

posted in: Housekeeping | 0

Site Stats Screenshot Link

I recently discovered a Google tool called Data Studio which lets you display all sorts of live data including website statistics. The first thought through my head was that you visitors to the site might like to see just how many others are doing the same thing. The default view is the number of sessions (visits), unique page views, visitors’ geographical location and device used in the past quarter but you can select any date range you like going back to November 2015.

Click here or on the image to view the latest figures.

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