Durban’s First Implosion

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?

The building all set to be imploded
The implosion dust cloud.
Reduced to rubble

Click on pictures to enlarge

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New Ricksha Picture

posted in: Pictures | 1


Tord Tutturen sent in a question about a picture of his relative Ludvig Field.


Ludvig Field pictured in a Ricksha in or near West Street. Any ideas when the picture was taken?


He wrote:

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?

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The Natal Locomotive

posted in: Pictures | 2


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.”
Natal Locomotive Image
The Natal Locomotive. Natal Mercury, May 24, 1974, via Kevin Watson.


An elderly gent rushes to catch the train after the line was extended to the Umgeni. Painting by John Sanderson. Natal Mercury, May 24, 1974, via Kevin Watson.


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The mills of FAD

posted in: Pictures | 0

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.

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Preservation and restoration

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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.”

Read More

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Legacy of John Thomas Baines

posted in: Uncategorized | 1

Udo Richard Averweg has penned yet another interesting article on Durban’s history on the legacy of artist John Thomas Baines. He wrote:

The City of Durban has a historical calendar landscape brush-stroked with many anniversary dates. 8th May remains one in its artistic history. This day marks the anniversary date on which John Thomas Baines (1820-1875), a renowned English artist and intrepid explorer who travelled through southern Africa and Australia, died on Durban’s Berea.

Download the article or any of his others ones.

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Durban Past

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Castle Arcade Columns
Picture courtesy Geoff Waters.


Reader Geoff Waters has sent in a document with photos he’s taken of historic locations around town and some text notes he’s made about the pictures. It makes a nostalgic read and you’re welcome to download the 1.8Mb PDF.

Download here

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Ricksha request

posted in: InfoRequests | 1


Picture courtesy Nicole White.


Reader Rowan Gatfield is a lecturer in Anthropology and is doing research on photos taken of Richshas from the 1880s to date. He says he is working on an academic paper and would welcome any personal recollections from people who have ridden in them and photos he could use in it. Please mail me at the address on the Contact page if you’re able to help.

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