Durban Pot Pourri Eleven

Durban Pot Pourri 11

A nostalgic look back at Durban’s buses.

When I arrived in Durban in 1948, the trams had been taken off but the trolley buses were still going.  I have this vague recollection of my father taking my sister and I for a bus ride soon after arriving in Durban down along Marine Parade.  Part of the memory was the three of us went upstairs and sat on the very front seat where I was able to stand and look out the front window.  Thereafter I grew up with the trolley buses.  My parents never had a motor car so we relied heavily on Durban Corporation bus service.  It actually was so good that my sister never managed to learn how to drive a car yet she managed to raise her family using the bus service when she needed transport.  Luckily for her she had a bus stop virtually outside her home.

Looking back it was an excellent bus service.  Even for the far flung suburbs.  On a personal note I used one very day getting to school and back, Saturdays the inevitable trip to town to join my friends there, going to the movies with a date before I was eligible to drive.   And they even laid on a late night Saturday service to get movie goers home.  Unfortunately if you accompanied your date home after Saturday night movies, your return trip was more likely on shank’s pony or thumbing a lift.  It really made life enjoyable because you could get out and about and families without transport could still visit family who lived in distant suburbs.   It really was a sad day when they pulled the trolley bus service followed eventually by the motor buses.  Today the bus service of what it used to be is only a vague memory. Read More

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Durban Pot Pourri Ten

Pot Pourri  10


This week something different.  I would suppose that the harbour would have had more interest for boys than girls growing up in Durban. It has though always been an integral part of Durban.  For me it has a personal connection because it was in Durban Harbour that I landed as an immigrant.

Here is a newspaper cutting I was able to retrieve from the Killie Campbell Archives of the ship Toscana on arrival.  My mother and sister indicated by the X.  I am hidden behind the side of the ship. It was quite a trip my Mother used to tell me and some died during the journey and had to be buried at sea.  Coincidentally 73 years today and it was a Friday in 1948 as well !  The ship was quarantined but allowed to dock the next day.

In later years I got to know the harbour sort of well as I would accompany my late uncle in his quest to catch the “big one”.   Very early Saturday mornings we would travel from Greyville all the way to the seine netters’ homes at Fynnlands to buy fresh shrimp bait. Then drive back via Edwin Swales Drive bathed in the eerie orange glow of the sodium lights  it was lined with, all the way to the North Pier, or T Jetty or one of the Shed berths.  During school holidays when you had to keep yourself busy with something to overcome the boredom, I used to walk from the bottom of Moore Road down to the I and J Fisheries Wharf  via Albert Park, across the Esplanade and the railway lines.  I used to take sandwiches and cool drink for lunch and bait was got from I and J being fish scraps or fishing boats unloading.  It passed the day and with other boys there you chatted and made friends.

My late brother in law also caught the fishing bug and went to the extent of buying a small bay boat, the Doric. The three of us, my uncle, brother in law and I, amateur sailors we were, were nervy in the boat, as sudden movement would make the boat rock with all us clinging to the sides.  eventually we got the hang of it.  But another adventure and memory and I can say, I have fished on the Bay.

The other attraction of the harbour was that for many in those years, it was an outing to kill a few hours away from home. You could drive around the harbour at will, stop alongside ships berthed, look at where they were registered indicated on the stern, what was loading / unloading, drive past the dry dock and the floating dock,  go to the yacht club and see what was going on there.  For some a day’s fishing with the whole family in tow, deck chairs, a picnic lunch, bored girls listening to music on the car radio in the back seat.  Simple but pleasurable amusements of the time.

One forgets that the Bay had serious shortcomings before it overcame them and developed in to the largest harbour in Africa.  The most difficult one was the sand bar at the entrance which precluded any heavy ship from entering.  There is a long history of the attempts made to overcome this problem which eventually was solved by dredging and the erection of the two piers.  The Bay, originally the Beach for Durbanites , changed when harbour development started in the 1900s.  The first improvement was Maydon Wharf.  It is interesting to read of the Bay’s history.  So my pictures are not modern times but what was in the past.  I hope you enjoy them.

Noted on picture: Wreck of the barque “Bridgetown” 23rd June 1882.


Sailing ships tied up in Durban Harbour circa 1890.


Durban’s first steam tug and first in Africa, the “Pioneer” anchored off the Point.

Another early tug, type of paddle steamer, the “Forerunner”.  circa 1890s.

Undated picture of the wreck of “The Queen”. The construction at the back could be the building of the North Pier.

Late 1890s/early 1900s.




Because heavy ships could not enter the harbour safely, passengers were required to be transferred to smaller boats and these would take you into the harbour.  Picture shows passengers entering the basket prior to transfer.  Must have been traumatic for some.

Not too clear but the basket about to be landed on the landing boat.

Passengers being transferred.

Durban Harbour near Albert Park early 1900s.




26th June 1904 the Armadale Castle docking in Durban. The first heavy ship to enter the Durban Harbour marking the success of the dredging operations carried out in the harbour mouth.  I recall that in Castle Arcade  (later demolished) in the central passage there was a large detailed model of this ship. After demolition of Castle Arcade, the model was moved to the Durban Museum / Art Gallery and for years stood on the ground floor just right of the staircase going upstairs. The last time I went there, some years ago now , the model was no longer there.

1906 “SS Ilderton”   first cargo ship to tie up at the new Maydon Wharf.  Entering Durban Harbour.

SS Ilderton”   being nudged up against the wharf with the help of a tug.

The stern of the Ilderton with sightseers gadding about.  Note the wood cargo on the deck

Durban Harbour tug “Sir John” with dignitaries on deck about to disembark having witnessed the docking of the Ilderton.


1929 picture of the graving dock in use not long after its opening..

1933 a four funnelled mail boat leaving Durban Harbour.  Only two liners with four funnels were built for the Union Castle Company, the Arundel Castle built in 1921 in Belfast and the Windsor Castle built in Glasgow 1922.  The Windsor Castle was sunk during WW2 but the Arundel Castle survived.

The dredger “Blesbok” circa 1940. Looking relatively new.  Pumping out dredged sand.  The harbour’s dredgers used to lie, tied up in the harbour channel.  There was another older one that was in operation in the mid 50s and I think it was named Cyclops

The North Pier Battery during war years.  Before my time but it was still there in the mid 1950s when fishing at the pier. I do not recall the high building part as I remember it being lower, this portion remaining and seemingly abandoned.  Eventually converted into a popular drinking water hole called Thirsty’s and finally demolished  when the realignment and construction of the new North Pier and Harbour Mouth Widening Project was started.

A nostalgic photo of Perla Siedle Gibson waving farewell to soldiers being shipped out of Durban.

A statue commemorating her wartime effort of singing to troops leaving Durban was unveiled by QE 11 on the North Pier.

I hear that it is no longer there.

I wonder what the story behind this wartime picture is?  Who is she? What is in the note? Who is the guy who lowered his helmet?   Where was the ship headed? Did he survive the war? A captured moment in time!

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Durban Pot Pourri Eight

This week’s Pot Porrui is mainly pictures and less notes. The reason being I do not know many of the pictures shown and have to reckon where they are and what stands in their place now.


Albert Park Mansions .

I cannot say I remember the building but from a directory it stood on the corner of the Victoria Embankment and Russell St.  Demolished in 1960s and replaced by a block of flats called Ogwini.

Ambassador House.  Corner Prince Alfred Street and Pine Street. Built in the 1930s. Initially residential was converted to offices.  This building still stands today.

Boulevard Court.

Built late 1930s.  Location 3/5 Winder Street.   I knew someone who lived in Winder Street and at the time, this was some years ago, it was a bit dodgy.  I think it is still that way now.

Corner Smith St and Field St.

The building on the right identifies its location as being Field St. See street name above the arch.  This building was the Royal Exchange Assurance Building. If I have my orientation right then we are looking at Smith St towards the Louis Botha statue.  In which case the building on this corner today would be the General Accident building which replaced Yorkshire House.  Next door would be the Smith Street side of the OK Bazaars.

Field Street looking at the Bluff in the distance.

The tall building on the left would be Standard Bank ABC Branch with the Cuthbert’s Building next to it on the left.  That is on the intersection of West and Field Streets. The low building opposite eventually became the Johannesburg Building Society (JBS) building.  This must be a very old photo 1900s noting the ox wagons. The buildings on the right look a bit ramshackle and I was trying to remember what would have been there in the 1960s.  There was an ABC Shoe Shop on the corner of West and Field and then a shop called Natal Hatters, then another building with an exclusive  furrier shop, Manock’s.  Also here was Gerays’s Studio, the photographers, the Natal Daily News Building, home of the newspaper and the Globe Hotel.  This stretched to Pine Street and if you recall you could look down into the basement of the Daily News building on Pine Street corner and watch the printing presses in action.


Three pictures of First Avenue in Greyville.

I cannot date these but again I would say circa early 1900s. Durban’s Electric Trams started running in 1902 so that gives a date to two pictures. Note the Bourn Bottle Store in two locations unless they moved from one to another.  Two pictures show the same building which appears to be King’s Hotel.  The only old hotel I knew in First Avenue was Ranch’s Hotel (66 First Avenue).   Perhaps the King’s Hotel became Ranch’s?  The name Bourn Bottle Store does ring a bell and I seem to remember one near Linze Road but not sure. One would need access to an old directory to unravel where these locations are but unfortunately I do not have one. There are enough clues though.


Aerial Picture.

The next picture is an aerial picture of lower West and Smith Street looking down on the Natal Technical College.  I knew the area having lived around there for a short while in the mid-50s.  This is a photo before my time judging by the fact that I do not see the Alhambra Cinema.  Anyone remember the EP & Commercial Printing Company in Smith Street?  It is in the picture. Also one can see the railway line heading for Umbilo and the main line to Pietermaritzburg.  Another big firm in the area was C. Argo. There are the Municipal Market Halls as well as the Albert Park Oval.  If you have a sharp eye I think I can see the Louis Botha Statue standing alone in those days. Not a very clear picture overall but an interesting one working out what streets are there.

Broad Street.

Picture taken I would guess mid-1940s. The building on the left is Broadwindsor one of Durban’s Art Deco, next door you can just make out the Plaza Hotel jutting out.  The big block of flats is Manhattan Court. Next to Manhattan Crt is Plymouth Hoe. Next St George’s Street.  Next are Nordic Court and Broadway Court.  I may be wrong but I think most of these buildings are still standing.

Young Ladies’ College Russell Street.


I have absolutely nothing on this building and where it was located in Russell St. On the back of the picture is noted “1906”.

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Durban Pot Pourri Six

Durban Pot Pourri  6


This week’s pictures are more a mix of old and new. Some survived to the late 50s early 60s but eventually fell to the demolishers.  Some of the younger viewers will be interested to see what existed in certain locations they may know today.  Feel free to comment if you know the areas.


Picture 1 :  Esplanade and probably the tallest building built on the Esplanade roundabout late 1890s. This building’s original name was changed.  Anyone know the reason?  Demolished early 1960s.


Picture 2 : Corner Field and Commercial Road.  Anyone name the familiar building erected in the area?


Picture 3 : I have indicated the names of the streets to help you out.  I do not know the area too well and am intrigued with Lowther’s Bread.


Picture 4 :  An interesting photo showing the original OK Bazaars as it was before its remodelling mid 1950s.


Photo  5: Who remembers these businesses.


Photo  6: Mid 1950s Christmas Decorations.  Recognise the area? Name the shops around there.


Picture 1

I was a little surprised that the building on the Esplanade was not identified.  This building was built circa 1902 and was originally named Koenig’s Building. I do not know about its early history but do know the building as my late father knew the caretaker, a certain Mr Hass who was a Maltese gentleman. I used to accompany my father when we visited him in the building.  This was roughly early 1950s. More about this later.

I cannot recall where I read about this building’s name being changed but it was changed from Koenig’s Building to St. Andrew’s Building.  The story goes that in in 1915 when the Germans sunk the liner, RMS  Lusitania in the Atlantic with the loss of over 1000 lives, the people of Durban rose in anti-German sentiment.   The anger was so strong that groups of British loyalists in Durban started attacking any firms with a German connotation.  German homes and businesses were torched.  Sound familiar? One firm that really suffered was Baumann’s , the baking firm. This despite the fact that Mr Baumann had served Durban as a town councillor, was a naturalized British citizen, a prominent Freemason and had two sons serving under General Botha in South West Africa.  The fact that Mr Baumann had emigrated from Germany in 1873 was regarded sufficient reason to destroy his business. Baumann’s changed its name immediately to Baker’s.  Likewise Koenig’s Building became St Andrew’s Mansions.

About the caretaker Mr Hass.  Mr Hass was small dapper man always dressed as a gentleman in a pin striped suit. I remember on one visit he was actually wearing white spats.  He also used to roll his moustache into points at the end.  He and my father spoke in Maltese but he was fluent in English as well.  I was just a young teenager then and wandered upstairs, there was no lift, just to see what was up there.  The building was a residence with individual rooms if I remember correctly.   Not flats as such but each floor had communal bathrooms as far as I could make out.  Looking at an old directory and going by the numbering scheme there were 7 floors with the eighth floor being two “penthouses”.    There were 7/8 rooms per floor.  I still recall the wide  passage way on each floor being high ceilinged and the floors wooden with rooms left and right.   Mr Hass had his office on the ground floor tucked away under the stair case.  I was a stamp collector at the time and on visits he would give me a small envelope with foreign stamps he collected for me.  On one visit a tenant had died and he must have had to clear the room of belongings for he gave me a delightful money box which I still have. It is obviously from World War 1 vintage.  I wonder who made it, where and when.  I attach a picture of it.

When Mr Hass died he had willed that his body be returned to Malta for burial. Unfortunately I have no photo of Mr Hass.

When I got to know St Andrew’s Building, Quadrant House on the corner of the Esplanade and Field St was built adjacent to it. On the other side was Shell House.  The entrance to St Andrew’s Building was in a narrow road called Bay Passage which ran from Smith St to the Esplanade. Bay Passage actually ran through an arch under the building onto the Esplanade but this had been blocked off with bollards as exiting here onto the busy Esplanade would have been dangerous.    So to all intents and purposes Bay Passage was a cul de sac.  The back area actually became a car park for Quadrant House tenants.   I still recall as you approached the back of St Andrew’s building, on the left was a high brick wall of another building and on it you could just make out some old faded signwriting  which read “Boat Builders”.  At street level in the front were display windows left and right. One I clearly recall was for Adelson’s Fumigators. In the window display was an actual termite’s nest, samples of wood eaten by termites and pictures of the different termites.  The display must have been there for years as it was as dusty as ever.  I attach a photo of Bay Passage I took many years later facing the Smith St end and pictures of St Andrew’s Building in later years.  Notice that the fancy roof towers must have been removed at some stage.

St Andrew’s Building was demolished in the early 60s and I think replaced by a parking garage.


Picture 2:

This old picture shows the intersection of Field Street and Commercial Road. On the left is the Durban Corporation Telephone Exchange Building which faced Field St and flanked both Pine St and Commercial Road.  Field St ran down to Soldier’s Way and on the left was the Butterworth Hotel.  Someone mentioned it was a dive but not so in the 1960s and 1970s as it was a popular wedding reception venue. It had a fine restaurant and a night club called Le Macarbe with the well known Bats as the resident band.  Coffin shaped tables were part of the décor.  The building on the left on the corner of Commercial Rd if I recall a portion still exists. The next road is Queen St followed by Victoria St and then Soldier’s Way.  The shape at the end of Field Street was the apron of the Triangle Filling Station later known as Aussies Triangle Petrol Station.  On the left hand side the old buildings were demolished and replaced by a parking garage called Nu Parkade(?)   Pine Street Parkade was the first building dedicated to a car park and was popular. Later Nicol Square was built but in the interim this one in Field St was built. I recall in this building at ground floor level was Kleen’s Watch Works, run by a very good Indian watchmaker.  This must be a very old picture as if you look at the Greyville Racecourse, you can see the main grandstand as a single building.

Picture 3:


Picture 4:

The OK Bazaars frontage as it was circa early 1950s. It was totally revamped in the early 60s and was a very popular shop. Always remember the signage OK Bazaars (1929) Pty Ltd.  Must have been 1959 when as a school boy I went for an interview to work there during the Christmas holidays. I was accepted and was told to report to the office on the first day after school broke up in December.  I was allocated to the men’s underwear department and still remember thinking what a boring department.  My mentor was a lady who ran the counter by herself and she showed me the ropes.  Well was I wrong.  Every man, boy and child must have got new underwear for Christmas. We never stopped all day and what was interesting was dealing with foreign ships’  crews  who could not speak English and you had to assist them.  The brand line was Curzon and another called Runacan.  It was fun though looking back.  I still remember the OK had a policy of as you entered the shop you were confronted by counters facing the entrance doors.  These were the sweet counters.  So as you entered you had to go either left or right to get into the store proper. Anyone remember this?  In those days each counter had tills and you paid there and then.  Here is a picture of the OK Bazaars as it was revamped.


Picture 5:

I included this picture because of the Waldorf Café.   The building on the left was Embassy House and the one on the right Shelton House. I have an idea these two were swallowed up in the development of the 320 West Street building. In the 60s pharmacies or chemists were individually owned so one knew them by their names such as Gaylens, Kahns, Floyds  etc.  or the area served Congella, Berea, Musgrave etc.  There were no Clicks. You got to know your chemist as you knew your doctor.  As shown here in the Kodak sign many chemists were agents for the development of 35 mm, and other films.  Kodak had a photo lab in Gale Street so films would be collected for processing and then returned.  Embassy House was a three storey building with small businesses upstairs.  Next door was Shelton House, a six storey building. H J Henochsberg was a clothing manufacturer making uniforms, caps, protective clothing etc under the Heritage brand name.  Again small businesses in this building, Athella Chapman School of Dancing, Anne Freed Theatre School, Durban Judokwai, Masque School of Ballet, John Curtis Photography.  The Waldorf Café I recall as a really nice eatery.  Not a restaurant as such but they had a nice menu in a sedate setting. A good go to place with a date if you were on a limited budget. It was not a big locale, the tables being at the back. As you see on the sign it was air conditioned which was unusual for small businesses.  The name brings back memories.


Picture 6:

This picture is of West Street looking at the intersection of Grey Street. In the far distance is the tower of the West Street Mosque.  The “black block” building on the right would be the corner of Grey  and West St.  This was a Beare Bros furniture store. Coming further down on the right hand side was the Roxy, possibly the most well-known bio café in Durban.  (I am still trying to get a picture of the actual cinema). The Roxy was probably the cheapest entertainment going. And a free refreshment thrown in.  I have to admit I killed time there as well especially during school holidays. Further down was Alwyn House with an Edworks Shoe Store at street level. Then came Foundry Lane between Alwyn House and Ackermans.  Foundry Lane got its name from John Gavin who had a foundry in this lane circa 1860. (from Origin of Durban Street Names by John McIntyre).  Then came HomeLeigh’s Furnishers  with Bale’s Building next door.  Then came the block building with the menswear outlet called Man’s Shop.   On the opposite side of the street was John Orr’s, then Howard’s Chemist and the tall building was McIntosh House.  Then Art  Leather and Handcraft  possibly the most visited arts and crafts store in the 60s. The Durban Shoe Centre and Morrison’s Lace and Madeira . Then came Gabriella’s Dress Shop, Electrical Construction and the legendary Colombo Tea and Coffee.  Then there was Tru Life Photography , the Bourn Bottle Store and finally the Polar Bar on the corner of West and Broad Street.  At this intersection Grey St ended  and Broad St began.  From my memories, The Polar Bar was as far as the family walked on Saturday evenings when window shopping. The car would be parked somewhere down West St and then a slow walk up West St to the Polar Bar were ice cream cones were bought , crossed the road and walked down the other side.  Having seen West St as it is today,  all you would see are roll down security doors.  Times have changed.   (Information from Lawrie’s 1965 Durban Directory)



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Durban Pot Pourri Seven

Pot Pourri  7.

A bit harder this week with an easy one thrown in.

Picture 1. What well known building is missing?

Picture 2. Where was this?

Picture 3. What hotel was this?

Picture 4.  Where and what was this?

Picture 5.  Easy one!  Where was this tree?

Picture 6.  Where is this tram?


Picture 1.

The missing building is the Edward Hotel on the Marine Parade.   Front of picture the wide road is West Street.  To the right the old Beach Hotel before that was demolished and rebuilt in the mid/ late 50s.  Then the Balmoral Hotel, Seaview St and an empty plot.  That was the site of the original Edward Hotel built, circa 1911. The other picture I posted of the Edward Hotel is the one that stood on this site and was demolished to make way for the new Edward we all knew. Unfortunately I have no books that date buildings so I have to go by reckoning. The new Edward was built early 1930s I think but if someone has a definitive date that will help. The date of this picture I would guess as late 20s / early 30s. I base this on a previous Pot Pourri concerning Hollywood Court which was built 1938/39 and if you blow the picture up you can make out the City Hall and Aliwal Street but no Hollywood Court yet in Smith Street.

Picture 2.


Criterion Theatre corner Field Street and Esplanade.  Before my time but there is a note “opened in 1912”.  I have a problem as to when the Criterion was demolished as it does not appear in a 1957 Directory and in 1965 indicated as Bay Towers under construction.  So what was on the corner  between the demolition of the Criterion and the building of Bay Towers? Bay Towers like the Criterion took the rounded corner shape. I show a more modern picture with Bay Towers partly visible on the right hand side.  pyc 2


Picture 3.

The original Edward Hotel with a note “opened 1911”. This is a classic photo showing the Marine Parade newly laid out following the removal of the mountainous sand dunes that existed.  I would say the Beach Hotel on the corner of West St and Marine Parade has the honour of being the oldest hotel on the Beach front.  The three shown is the Edward , the Fern Villa (later name changed to Majestic) and the Ards. Of the three shown, the Majestic lasted the longest.  Referring to Pic 1 it was this Edward Hotel demolition that left the “missing” gap in the photo.  Remarkably clear photo.


Picture 4.

This one must have had many flummoxed but I notice some were spot on.  It is in fact the Town Baths circa 1893. It was located in West Street roughly where the City open air baths were situated.  However these baths were enclosed and included Turkish Baths.  From an associated notice these baths provided a salt water swimming bath but one could also indulge in hot fresh water at 1/- (one shilling / 10 cents) or hot sea water baths 1/6 (one shilling and sixpence 15 cents ) per session.  Mondays and Thursdays the baths were reserved for Women only.

Unfortunately this picture is not too clear in reproduction.  I attach a photo of the interior of the enclosed Town Baths.  Separately a price list.

Picture 5.

Most Durbanites will have one way or another have heard of the Dead Man’s Tree on the corner of Gardiner St and West St alongside the Post Office. I heard about this tree as a young teenager and recall actually going to see it close up.  And it did have nails sunken into its trunk.  When the tradition was started of nailing Funeral Notices to this tree is unknown to me as also when the practice was ended.  One must remember that originally the West Cemetery was the burial place, then somewhat a bit removed from the town centre.  The funeral parlours were all congregated at the far end of West Street near the railway bridge.  Also for public convenience, the Durban Corporation Transport Dept. provided for a funeral tram which transported the coffin from the residence to the cemetery.   One assumes this was for the central and surrounding suburbs served by the tram network.  Looking at the lady’s dress this looks like an old photo. Adlam, Reid was a well-known funeral parlour. Situated at 589 West St.  They advertise as being Embalmers and Monumental Sculptors.  Their telegraphic address was appropriately “CEMETRY” (sic).

Picture 6.

I had to hide a couple of giveaway clues here just to test the waters.  In my picture I post again, the clues can be seen on enlargement. This is the top end of West Street beyond Brickhill and Point Roads. On the right is Baumann’s Bakery (later Bakers) with the small glassed tower.  Next door was the Lowther’s Hotel. This was the forerunner of the Lonsdale Hotel. The tram destination board reads “Beach”.  On the left one can see the name board “Federal” which was the name of the hotel.

The Federal lasted well into the 1970s if I recall much changed though and in the end was a rather tired looking building.  The next two buildings on the left I cannot identify. Someone suggested the Echoes Hotel.  Perhaps, as the Echoes was located in this area. So was the Belmont in later years.  Other buildings which sprung up in this area were Ottawa Court and Olympic Court. Age of the photo is again reckoned. The Post Office is there as well as the tower of the Natal Bank Building on the corner of Gardiner St and West St.  The dome must be the City Hall which dates to 1910.  Electric trams started running in Durban in 1902.


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Durban Pot Pourri Five

Picture 1 : Many recognised the Athlone Bridge crossing the Umgeni River.  The bridge runs from Athlone Drive which skirted the Windsor Golf Course and onto Northway.  The building on the left is not the Athlone Gardens  Hotel but Whitehall Court.  I looked up an old directory and see its address was given as Kelvin Place which runs at right angles to the Umgeni. Later directories give the address of Whitehall as Northway.  Back to the bridge it was built by the Durban North Estates Company named in honour of the Earl of Athlone, Governor General of the Union of South Africa. The bridge was opened in November 1927 by the Mayor of Durban, Councillor H L. Buzzard.   Towards the mid 1960s, concerns were expressed that the bridge structure was deteriorating and was no longer safe to use.  By that time the new Athlone Bridge was well under construction as a replacement.  When finally closed demolition of the old girder bridge began.  A major problem occurred when a large section fell away into the river resulting in added difficulties retrieving it.  Finally to further stand its ground, the concrete bases which supported the bridge were set to be demolished with explosives.  The explosives failed to do the job and the remains were left in place in the river bed. If I recall correctly the Demoina Floods failed to remove them either.   I seem to remember seeing portions still evident but perhaps someone can verify this.

Picture 2: This picture had many guessing as it was demolished well before our times. The building pictured is the Durban Central Fire Station in Pine Street which was situated virtually opposite where Paynes Brothers back entrance was. The picture shown shows the building not yet 100% compete. This building stood behind the Durban Corporation Telephone Exchange building built circa 1904 which faced Field Street. I do not have details as to when this building was demolished but it made way for a rather sombre building to house the needs of growing telecommunications expansion.  After WW 2, the need for additional room to cater for an automatic trunk exchange, room to house national carrier transmission equipment plus accommodation for a larger trunk operators’ room necessitated that the Fire Station be demolished to make way for this.  The whole block between Field Street and Albert Street , Pine Street and Commercial Road therefore became dedicated to telecommunications. Today the whole block is bathed in an aluminium covering,  rather unsightly in my opinion and goes by the name Taj Mahal.  I relieved in the one of telephone exchanges  in this building at some time and seem to remember there being a fireman’s pole in the basement where a large main distribution frame was located.  At the time I did not connect the fireman’s pole to this building but learning of this in later years I have tried to get some confirmation whether that  fireman’s pole did exist  as a memento in that location.  An elegant building but then with the later traffic of Pine Street, its locality was its death knell.

Picture 3 :  This picture is 50/50;  one building remains to today the other gone.  The building shown  on the left was the Port Natal Masonic Lodge built in 1871 and destroyed by fire in 1892. The building was rebuilt and enlarged and continued to be used as a Masonic Lodge till 1949.  The building was then sold and demolished to make way for the Sanlam building.  So an old building.  Now last week I included a picture of the Inanda Masonic Lodge in Stamford Hill Road.  Notice the similarity? The entrance portals!  Again this Masonic building, way before my time but knowing the other building I can tell you what stands there now. The street between the two buildings happens to be called Masonic Grove.  The building still standing is rather special as it is virtually the last elegant old style building left in the area.  It is Riches Building and I include a modern today photo. Sadly the dome, cupola and the embellishments round the roof area have been removed and all that is left are the lower two floors.  Looking at another photo I have this partial demolition seems pretty recent. See my additional picture.  The statue in the alcove remains as does the Victorian Lace decorations and uprights’ supporting the front roofing.  If you are still confused as to its location, it was adjacent to the once Central Police Station in Smith St, near Escoval House and diagonally opposite Greenacres Passage Smith Street side.

Picture 4:  The Mosque many recognised as being near the Connaught Bridge interchange with North Coast Road.  I stand to be corrected but I think the road is Riverside Road.  Notes on the picture indicates the name,  Queen’s Bridge Mosque.  This must allude to the Queen’s Bridge which at time crossed the Umgeni River possibly in this area.

Picture 5: Now this photo has flummoxed most bar one person who just happens to be a past NU architectural graduate.  I recognise this building because the trolley bus route to Sutton Park passed in front of it and travelling past it often I remembered it.  It originally was the Full Gospel Tabernacle corner Albert and Beatrice Streets.  Referring to directories it was the main church of the Full Gospel Churches of God.  I recall the dark red brick colour contrasted with white.  A rather stark looking building. The church sold off the property as it no longer appears as a tabernacle in 1965. It was bought by the Natal Indian Teachers’ Society.  The area where the tabernacle was located was in the early 60s rather neglected with the open area in front of this building being Cartwright Flats. A large sand pit as I remember it, where Boswell’s Circus would pitch their tent.  The building was demolished and replaced by a multi-storey glass and brick building. I do not have a picture but include a photo which shows the new NITS building in the background.  As an aside, the Full Gospel Church had the slogan “Jesus Saves” which could be seen round and about.  One big sign they had was close to this tabernacle on the railway reserve on the right going down Soldiers’ Way. The sign illuminated at night in big red letters read “JESUS SAVES”.    Many probably remember this sign.

In the background is a tall brick and glass building. This is the replacement building built on the Full Gospel; Tabernacle site.



Picture 6:  I thought I would add this picture as it is rather unusual as it shows rather undeveloped areas near the beach front.    There is no information on it regarding date or location so one has to deduce what is seen. If you enlarge the picture I have numbered locations I recognise.


1 The Durban Railway Station

2 The Railway Workshops

3 The Durban City Hall, which one can put a date on this picture as being post 1910.

5 Kearsney Road where the Central -Point railway line took a turn to head down to the Point.

4 Old buildings which stood opposite Beachway Motors, main branch in Pine Street.  I have an idea these building are still standing and if I recall there was a workshop where VW motors could be exchanged.

6 Pine Street. Someone mentioned 6 is the site of the Killarney Hotel.  I accept this as the Hotel was built on the corner of Pine and Brickhill Roads.

7 Brickhill Road.

8 Difficult to be definitive on this one but I would say Milne Street.

9 The diagonal road John Milne Road.

  1. Seaview Street which runs down to the Marine Parade between the Edward and Balmoral Hotels.

The name Seaview St apparently was derived from the fact that when the beach area was a myriad of high sand dunes known as the Back Beach, one could get a good view of the whole sea front from this view point at the end of Seaview St.



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Durban Pot-Pourri Three

The Bathing Enclosure 1905.

The first picture that came up for Pot Pourri 3 was the Bathing Enclosure  that existed on the beach front in the early 1900s being constructed.  This enclosure was built near Dairy Beach for the use of the bathing public following a decision to close off the Bay Beach.

The Bathing Enclosure under construction. Looks like a steam driven bogey set on rails.

The Bay had developed into Durban’s beach, safe from sharks, ideal for getting your feet wet and easily accessible.  I did not know enough about the enclosure to do an informative write up so set about finding out the back story to it. The person who thought up the idea of the Enclosure was John Fletcher, the then Borough Engineer.  Reading about his career as Borough Engineer revealed the many projects he tackled and completed during the time he held that post. He must have had a full but difficult and gratifying life in all he accomplished for the City he shaped.  Probably not many have heard of him and he is only remembered in an obscure road, Fletcher Road in the Congella area. I thought to give him his due I would devote Pot Pourri 3 to him.  As he is described in a book “his breadth of vision and his genius for planning established the high standard of development which characterised the old Borough”.   Click on pictures to expand.

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Durban Pot-Pourri Two

Pot Pourri Two

Aliwal Street 1930s.

In my previous post re Hollywood Court and the cinemas, the one photo shows the corner of Smith and Aliwal Streets.  The picture I post is a close up picture of that corner where eventually the 20th Century cinema was located.  Looking down Aliwal Street we have on the corner, Franks Garage, E. Tarr, then Butler ?Gates Auto Spares and Accessories, then Fuller Batteries, a vague sign reading AYSHIRE , Aliwal St Congregational Church, then not clear but I can read a DELCO sign, then a sign reading –VERY. Read More

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