To help usher in this year’s Welcoming of the Whales Street Festival, the corner of Gray’s Inn Road and Marine Drive at the Bluff is now home to Destiny the whale. The art piece installation was launched by Sodurba and its sponsors on Wednesday, 26 June.
Helga du Preez from Sodurba Tourism Association said the South Durban Community Tourism Association launched the Welcoming of the Whales Festival in 2017, and Robin Opperman from Umcebo Design had made a mascot for the festival.
Lieutenant Richard Saunders King of the royal navy was one of the first settler leaders who, together with lieutenant farewell, first came to port Natal in 1823. He died on 7 September 1828 and was buried at king’s rest on the Bluff. A small seat and monument is his memorial.
In commemoration of former president Nelson Mandela’s willingness to engage with the Wentworth community in 1995, a garden representing Mandela’s compassion was established in Quality Street, Wentworth. A stone symbolising community strength was erected by SDCEA in this garden. Mandela’s humility inspired our South Durban community to continue the struggle against polluters and all forms of injustice, be it from government or local business.
The Bluff Headland is situated at the entrance of Durban Harbour, one of Africa’s busiest, and has served as a military vantage point during the Anglo Boer War, WW2 and WW2. Much of the Headland area is cordoned off as an active military base including modern and sensitive military technologies. The Headland is riddled with redundant military infrastructure including gun emplacements, bunkers and other artifacts of historic interest.
Perched high on the Bluff peninsular in Durban is the Millennium Tower. This landmark is occupied by the port control and signals staff and provides with a 360-degree view over the port, city and sea approaches to Durban.
It was built by Dering Stainbank in 1885 as a family home and is situated an easy 15-minute drive south of Durban. The 253 hectare nature reserve, or rather ‘Green lung’, home to many species of antelope, zebra and abundant birdlife, was donated by Kenneth Stainbank to the people of South Africa over 50 years ago and is currently managed by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.
DURBAN’S BEST KEPT SECRET
Coedmore Castle has remained in the family for 4 generations, and contains many of the original household contents including furniture from the 19th century, old family portraits and antique silverware. Although donated to the state by Kenneth Stainbank, the family currently manages it. It is now open to the public for guided tours, school outings and hire of the grounds for small weddings, functions and photography.
Opened in 2013, the Mary Stainbank Memorial Gallery houses the work of Mary Agnes Stainbank, a renowned contributor to Modernist art. Keith tells us that: “Those familiar with her work are delighted that there is now somewhere where they can view it, whilst people who are not familiar with it are amazed that a woman born at the end of the 19th century produced such powerful art, which remains relevant today.”
Address: 14 Robin Road, Yellow Wood Park, Durban South, 4011, South Africa
Area: 625 acres
Phone: +27 31 469 2807
Times: Mon – Sat (6AM–6PM) bookings must be done in advance
The Cooper Lighthouse emerges from the history of the original Bluff Lighthouse that was built on the seaward end of the Bluff, and was the first lighthouse to grace the Natal coastline. It is also one of the only lighthouses named after a person; lighthouses are usually named for the geographical rock, point, cape or island on which they stand.
Cooper Light was the second lighthouse built on the Bluff. The first began building in 1864 taking three years to complete, due to the delay of materials (material had to be taken across the bay from the point by boat, landed on the beach and then manually hauled up a pathway; a laborious task). It was officially opened in 1867 and called Durban’s Lighthouse, long overdue as Durban had apparently waged a twelve year battle for such a structure. At the time it was the only lighthouse on the east coast of Africa.
The lighthouse served its purpose until 1933 when a newspaper report suggested that it had been condemned as unsafe, largely due to a recent earth tremor. The then lighthouse engineer, Harry Claude Cooper, allayed fears after the sensational report, siting the need for repairs due to age and rather poorly designed foundations that would need maintenance, as the reason for any restoration.
The lighthouse was rehabilitated to last for a number of years, until the Cape Garrison artillery began firing their six-inch guns, threatening damage to windows and the mercury contained in the revolving lenses of the the optic of the lighthouse. The Bluff lighthouse was demolished in 1941, replaced by two lighthouses – the Cooper Light on top of the Bluff at Brighton Beach, ready for commissioning in July 1953 (there was the minor problem of a war in-between), and the Umhlanga Rocks Lighthouse. Both are identical, except for the colour of the towers and the character of the lights. The Cooper Lighthouse is 21 metres tall and its flashes of light every 10 seconds can be seen 26 nautical miles out to sea.
Durban is the busiest port in South Africa and the lifting of sanctions and re-admission to world trade prompted the widening of the harbour mouth and the replacement of the control tower on the Bluff headland.
Deriving inspiration from sugar cane shoots and nautical imagery, including sails, masts, cranes and funnels, this design competition winner consists of a 75m high tower of reinforced concrete, three discs of accommodation and a structure that communicates weather data, replete with a cowl that revolves in acknowledgement of the wind’s direction. With the Millennium Tower, Durban received a striking new landmark.