Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Trams in Durban 1900s: did your ancestor ride on one of them?

Electric trams in front of the old Town Hall at right (now the Main Post Office). Behind is the Railway Station.

Opened in 25 March 1880, the Durban tramway network was operated initially by horsedrawn power. From 1 May 1902, the network was converted to electrical power. Beginning on 24 February 1935, this was gradually replaced by the Durban trolleybus system, which was opened on that day.

Note the straw hats worn by men and the long light-coloured dresses and large hats of the ladies. 

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Souvenir Saturday: West Street, Durban 1897

The bunting, flags etc may indicate that Durban was busy celebrating 
Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, 22 June 1897. Her accession to the throne was
commemorated throughout the Empire.

Ten years earlier the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria was celebrated on 20 June 1887, the fiftieth anniversary of Victoria's accession on 20 June 1837. A banquet was held to which 50 European kings and princes were invited.

 Queen Victoria died 22 January 1901, at Osborne, on the Isle of Wight. Her reign lasted 63 years and 216 days. She was the longest-reigning British monarch until this record was superseded by the current Queen, Elizabeth II, whose reign now stretches over 67 years and about 99 days.

Queen Victoria in 1897

Queen Eizabeth II has reigned since 6 February 1952.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Smiths of Northumberland 19th c

John and Margaret Smith with son William Dixon Smith
 and daughter Jane (later Surtees)

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Cape Columbine Lighthouse, Paternoster, Cape, South Africa

Cape Columbine is well known for its lighthouse, the last manned lighthouse built on the South African coast. The Cape Columbine Lighthouse was commissioned on October 1, 1936. Both the headland and lighthouse derive their name from the Columbine, a barque wrecked 1.5 km North of the lighthouse on March 31, 1829. 

Cape Columbine Lighthouse is situated on a prominent headland ±5 km from the picturesque fishing village of Paternoster (meaning Our Father) deriving its name from the heartfelt prayers of shipwrecked Portuguese sailors. The lighthouse, built on rising ground at Castle Rock, and usually the first lighthouse sighted by shipping coming from South America and Europe, is about 30 km from Vredenburg on the West Coast.

  • First South African Lighthouse to receive three navigational aids: light, a fog signal and a radio beacon.
  • First lens system designed for use with a 4 kW incandescent electric lamp.

Several ships were wrecked in the area, which is known for its multitude of submerged rocks and reefs.

  • Columbine 1829
  • Ismore 1899
  • SS Saint Lawrence 1876
  • SS Lisboa 1910
  • SS Haddon Hall 1913
  • SS Malmesbury 1930
  • Haleric 1932
  • Da Gama 1979
  • SS Columbine 1944 (Torpedoed)

The Columbine Nature Reserve surrounds Cape Columbine Lighthouse. On the southern side of the lighthouse is Tieties Bay. 5 km away is the fishing village of Paternoster. The coastline is well known for its sea life, especially for crayfish and abalone. Langebaan Lagoon, the West Coast National Park and a Fossil Park.

As the sun sets on the days of manned Lighthouses, Japie Greeff, as Senior Lighthouse Keeper at the Cape Columbine Light, will be one of the last men to follow the rigid routines demanded of them every day, to ensure that the Light is turned on at twilight.

Japie Greef at Cape Columbine Lighthouse

Acknowledgement: Suzanne Jo-Leff Patterson

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Bauman's Bakery Durban

Baumann's Bakery, West St., early Durban, before addition of 2nd storey

Baumann's Bakery 1895 after addition of 2nd storey and lantern ceiling.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Happy Easter!

Easter cards emerged in the 1870's and were popular from the beginning of the 1880's forward. Perhaps they caught on slower as it was a religious holiday and it might have taken time for the public to regard sending cards as socially appropriate. 

The first Easter cards emerged in striking colours and sometimes with silk fringe. Beautiful chromolithographed images required separate pressings by inked stones, one press for every color in the design.

Easter cards of the 1880's illustrated well-known holiday and secular themes featuring children mixed with traditional symbols of new life and spring implying Easter's religious significance of rebirth and resurrection. A child might hold an egg, watch an egg open, gather eggs or emerge from a cracked egg as if he or she was a young chick being born. Some children watched eggs that would crack and reveal flowers, a chick or a rabbit. Sentimental cards featured children in bird's nests as if the child was a little bird nesting against a spring scene. These children were sleeping, waiting to wake to the spring and rebirth of the Easter season. Some 1880's cards were comical. Artists used eggs as a large feature to the design including parts of a bicycle or a hot air balloon.

Familiar spring features such as birds, butterflies and early flowers like crocus or apple blossoms were popular through the 1880's. In addition to the secular images, an Easter cross or lamb with religious verse also appeared on some cards. Rabbits appeared in two forms on 1880's cards. Some cards featured rabbits in a spring setting symbolizing the fertility of spring. German cards also featured an Easter Bunny, delivering an Easter card and coloured Easter eggs to children.

Victorian greeting card designs reflected changes in 19th-century taste. The Aesthetic movement (1868 - 1901) brought Asian-inspired designs and natural design elements. By the middle of the 1880's, Easter and other greeting cards adopted naturalistic designs and a subdued, earth toned color palette. Easter cards had greater religious themes, which included cherubic choir-singing children. Popular chicks and flowers continued to appear. By the very late 1890's, crosses were appearing with greater popularity. Easter greetings in the Art Nouveau and Edwardian periods are some of the most aesthetically beautiful of all greeting cards.


Saturday, April 13, 2019

Souvenir Saturday : the Titanic on her way 1912

RMS Titanic departed Southampton on 10 April 1912, colliding with an iceberg during her maiden voyage to New York City.  As one lady reportedly remarked from one of the lifeboats, Now there's a sight you don't see every day.

At least 13 couples chose to celebrate their honeymoon on the Titanic.

Read more revelations about the Titanic at

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Durban Bay and Point 1870s

Durban Bay and Point 1870s, Berea hills in the distance,

Acknowledgement: Cory Library 754-1217

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Shipwrecks and the Rocket Apparatus at Natal

 Natal 1870s and 80s

At the port of Durban numerous lives were saved by means of the rocket apparatus, fired from the 'rocket house' on shore to vessels in distress. A case in point was that of the Luna, a British brig commanded by Captain Grube which was wrecked on the Back Beach on 2 September 1880. She had sailed from London. Her cables parted during a south east gale - the story of many a ship at this port.

The entire crew survived the wreck, being brought ashore after use of the rocket apparatus.

Another ship whose crew were rescued in this way was the Theresina, a British brigantine wrecked on the Back Beach on 9 April 1878 after a voyage from London. A similar incident occurred on 2 August 1878 when the American barque H.D. Storer parted her cables and ended up on the beach after a voyage from New York.

These unfortunate events were the direct result of ships lying in the roadstead as they were not able to enter the port because conditions over the bar were adverse at the time. Various harbour engineers attempted to solve the problem of the bar.

British harbour experts had to rewrite the text book on tidal scour. Massive breakwaters, exposed to the furies of the sea, had to be constructed. Tidal power is an untiring force of nature. But when there is a never-ending stream of sand passing a harbour entrance, tidal action becomes an engineering nightmare. There was only one solution: persistent dredging.