Tom Chalmers was an early contributor to this site and we were saddened to hear of his passing on August 25, 2018. Here at FAD we’d like to offer our condolences to all his friends and family and remember him by highlighting the story he shared with us about his involvement in the failed last official flight of a Sunderland flying boat from Durban harbour.
Both these clippings were from the souvenir edition of “The Mercury’s Durban 150th Anniversary Supplement, May 24, 1974” edited by Dudley Hawkins with acknowledgements to the Durban Local History Museum, the Old House Museum and photographic reproductions of prints and photographs by Arthur Bowland.
I have just had a look at the site visitor figures over the past year. According to Google we have had an average of 4618 visitors who viewed an average of 11755 pages every month.
The average has been maintained for most of our 15 years of life and according to my admittedly sketchy mathematics, it means that there have been in the region of 2,116,065 page views in that time. It has been a major undertaking on the part of Gerald and myself for which I thank him most sincerely. He took care of things very ably while I was I was recovering from emigration and things would have ground to a halt without him.
I was going through some photos and came across a few I had taken of Durban’s first implosion. I cannot remember the date but it was in the 1990s if I recall. The location was Point Road and the building was a derelict block of flats. I could not remember the street number but luckily the one photo shows the building next door which was the Sarie Marie Holiday Flats and that was 542 Point Road. I have no idea what the name of the multi sided building in the background is. The implosion took place on a Sunday and was set for noon. I was wondering whether there have been any other implosions since then. Anybody remember the name of the building imploded?
Tord Tutturen sent in a question about a picture of his relative Ludvig Field.
I have a picture of an old relative, photographed in a rickshaw on West Street in Durban. The storefront in the background shows F.A. Stow, probably owned by Frederick Ambrose Stow (1864-1947). In the “Who’s who” from 1906, Stow’s address is 131-137 West Street. Can you help me pin down more exactly when and where this picture was taken. The man sitting in the rickshaw was a Norwegian, Ludvig Field (1862-1944), who lived in the Transvaal from 1896 to 1937. One can observe that the road is not paved, can that help to find a date for the picture?
We already had a couple of pages on the site about the steam locomotive which drew the first train in South Africa which ran from the Point to Pine Street. The locomotive was called The Natal and the launch of the railway is described here and its eventual fate here. Now reader Kevin Watson has sent in some great pictures which appeared in the Mercury’s Durban 150th Anniversary Supplement on May 24, 1974. Kevin quoted from the accompanying write-up:
“On Tuesday 26 June 1860 the Durban Natal Mercury newspaper reported that this day was graced by the highest in the land supported by the enthusiastic burgesses, their women folk and children. The station was not yet erected and the platform only a temporary makeshift, but the town of Durban was en fête. Stores closed down and bunting adorned every building and from all points a steady procession of wagons pulled up on the scene, off-loading their human freight, marshalled by the guard of the 45th Regiment.
“The occasion was the opening of the railway from the Point to the town terminus in Pine Terrace, a distance of 2 miles for a ceremonial first ride on South Africa’s first train. The 24 horse power engine, the Natal, could reach a maximum speed of 40 kmph. As there was no turntable, the Natal went in reverse one one and forward when returning. The train made 3 journeys in each direction each day. First Class fares were 1s (single) and 1s 6d (return) and 6d each way in the Second Class. Seven years later the line was extended to the Umgeni River. The train was so slow that passengers could run ahead to the next stop to catch it if they missed it at the first. In this painting by John Sanderson, an elderly gent is seen waving his umbrella, determined to catch it at the first stop soon after the Umgeni section was opened.”
The Mills of FAD may grind slowly but they do grind exceedingly fine and sooner or later we seem to get a reaction to everything we publish. In this case the reaction to Frank Beeton’s memories of 1950s aviation highlights took 14 years to arrive after publication. Frank wrote of the visit to Durban of three Avro Lancaster aircraft of the French Aeronavale (Fleet Air Arm) and this year reader Gerald Maddams recalled seeing pictures in FlyPast Magazine of those very same aircraft at Louis Botha Airport during their visit. It turned out the pictures had been taken by Vic Pierson and contributing editor Ken Ellis was kind enough to forward copies and permission to reproduce them here.
Pictures by Vic Pierson. Reproduced with thanks to him & FlyPast Magazine.
I’m encouraged by the fact that efforts at preserving our heritage are still underway in Durban. I had a message from Martin Prange of the City Architect’s Department about a project they’ve just completed. He wrote:
“Thought you might be interested in a recent project I have just completed at the maritime museum.
Restoration of the NCS Challenger – an open sailing boat that Ant Steward circumnavigated the world in in the 80’s – a feat that has never been achieved by anyone else – lots of interesting info on his voyage on the net.
The boat was in poor shape and we have restored the hull and deck with the aid of a fibreglass contractor and sponsorship for the materials from a local resin company.
Still to be compiled is a story-board on Ant’s epic journey.”
Reader Kevin Watson sent in this great postcard of a line-up of Ricksha pullers. He wrote that it was one of two postcards left in a book of tear-out postcards called “12 Attractive Views of Durban” he found in a box of old photos.