Saturday, November 3, 2012

Durban in the 1870's: Mr Currie's View


Durban from Mr Currie's Residence, Berea 1873, by Thomas Baines.

This painting shows Port Natal as my ancestor Thomas Alfred Gadsden would have known it in the 1870's.

Seen are the Bluff with its new lighthouse at the seaward end and the path by which materials were conveyed for construction of the lighthouse. In the bay are numerous vessels, both sail and steam.

The tug Pioneer trails black smoke as she steams out of the entrance towards a larger vessel in the roadstead. To the left chugs the little locomotive of the Natal Railway Company, white smoke emerging from its funnel. An ox-wagen trundles along the road in the middle distance.

Buildings cluster together in the town, and the green vegetation of the Berea, then 'a pleasant wooded hill', is in the foreground, with well-observed details of colonial life at the time. One gets the distinct impression that Mr Currie has just stepped out of the picture and will return shortly to take tea and resume his viewing by telescope of the fascinating panorama spread out below.

[Painting in collection of the Local History Museum, Old Court House, Durban]

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