Salisbury Island in the Port of Durban on the east coast of South Africa, was an island until the Second World War when construction of a naval base connected it to the mainland by a causeway. The island, then a mangrove covered sandbank, was named after HMS Salisbury, the Royal Navy ship that surveyed the future harbour area for the newly established Port Natal Colony in the 1820s.
Second World War and after
Naval Base Durban was constructed for the Royal Navy during the Second World War in response to the threat of Japanese attacks on shipping along the east coast of Africa. It was during this construction that the island became a peninsula through the construction of a causeway. After the war the base was turned over to the South African Naval Service (SANS), which has since maintained a fluctuating and intermittent presence.
With the signing of the Simonstown Agreement in 1957, the Royal Navy gave up its control of the SANS in exchange for the use of the base at Simon’s Town. The SANS became the South African Navy (SAN) and Salisbury Island its main base. When the Simonstown Agreement ended the SAN moved most of its operations back to Simon’s Town and Durban became a secondary facility.
University College for Indians
In 1961 the University College for Indians was established on Salisbury Island – it closed down in 1971 when it was replaced by the University of Durban-Westville. Under apartheid the different population groups in South Africa had to have separate facilities, the college was the first fully fledged tertiary educational institution for Indian South Africans. Students used to commute to the college by ferry or boarded in hostels on the island. Alumni of the college include Pravin Gordhan the Minister of Finance, Roy Padayachie the former Minister of Public Service and Administration.
(Source: Port of Durban)