Durban’s Woes

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 1

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 1

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 35

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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The Parish of Isipingo Centenary Record 1856 -1956

Parish of Isipingo Centenary Record 1856-1956 Image
Parish of Isipingo Centenary Record 1856-1956

Written by Rev. P. E. Goldie.

One of my real likes is coming across small booklets especially concerning Durban history, written up by someone who has taken the time to do some research and investigating into the subject matter. Some years ago now, in my study of my wife’s Mack family history, I was given a copy of a booklet written up by Rev. P.E Goldie which gives the history of the Parish of Isipingo 1856-1956.

The Macks, amongst other families who settled in Isipingo were the pioneers of the Natal sugar industry. In actual fact Robert Henry Mack, known as Harry Mack, grandson of Robert Gazley Mack, the original pioneer, was the last of the Mack family to grow sugar on the Isipingo Flats. At the age of 95 he was still travelling from the Bluff to Isipingo to supervise the planting, growing and harvesting of the annual crop. He died aged 99 in 1968. Today the Mack family is remembered in Isipingo with the road named Mack Road which bordered the Mack farm.

Isipingo is tied up with Dick King who lived and died there and where he is buried today. He was gifted Isipingo in appreciation of his historic ride to Grahamstown in 1842 to inform the Cape authorities of the dire straits the Port Natal settlement was in, due to the siege by the Boers. Robert Gazley Mack, a Byrne Settler was originally allocated a plot of land in the Byrne Valley (Richmond District), did not see his future lying there, abandoned his plot and retired to Port Natal. Here he bought land off Dick King and became a sugar pioneer.

The booklet written by Rev. Goldie, and he is hereby acknowledged, covers the early history of the Anglican Church in what was known as the Parish of Isipingo which eventually spread in later years to include Amanzimtoti, Umbogintwini, Warner Beach and surrounds. I doubt whether many of these booklets survive so I decided to put it up on the Facts about Durban site and with the help of Allan Jackson here it is. It is long but rather than reduce its contents, I left it whole. Also below is the programme of events to mark the Centenary.

Click on the link below.



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Bill Buchanan

posted in: InfoRequests 1

Former Natal Newspapers colleague Greg Arde has been in touch to say that he is working with the local ward councillor to preserve the Burman Bush conservation area. He’s looking for information about Bill Buchanan who apparently gifted the land to the city and also donated the land for the council flats and the Bill Buchanan aged care facility in the same area. Please drop me a line at the address on the contact page or leave a comment below.

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Early contributor passes away

posted in: Mini Memories 0
Image taken by Tom Chalmers of a Sunderland Flying taking off from Durban harbour on August 27, 1957.
A photo taken by Tom Chalmers on August 27, 1957, on the day before the failed last official flight on August 28.

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.

Read it here

Here is the press release informing us of the event and giving some detail of his career including as the highly respected editor of World Airnews. Click it to view.

Tom Chalmers' death announcment

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