This post is based upon a mail from Arthur Gammage relating a story about Reverend C.F. Miles-Cadman, which will be of interest Durban residents who are interested in the city’s past. Cadman was born in U.K., served in WWI and then came out to S.A. and Durban. This post details his career in SA, and Durban.
For those who don’t know me, I retired a few years ago from the City Architecture Department’s Urban Design and Landscape Architecture Branch. I continue to pursue my interests in local history and heritage.
Recently I bought a book Much for Your Comfort, 1960 by Rev C F Miles Cadman, as I recognised the name of the author. This is a presentation of the basics of the Christian gospel, “apologetic” in character. 1 Peter Ch 3 v 15 says: “— always be ready to give a defence (apologia) to anyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you —” (NKJV). The word apology has rather changed its meaning, as has “comfort”, which used to mean strengthen or encourage.
From the flyleaf of the book:
The author of “Much For Your Comfort” was born in England, and educated at Wickham Market, Winchester, Lincoln and London. Ordained a clergyman of the Church of England in 1915, his first job was the charge of St. Philip’s, Newmarket, where stable-lads and other racing people soon filled the church to overflowing. From there he went on service with the troops to France, where he was mentioned in despatches for gallantry and recommended for the OBE and the French Croix-de-Guerre. Thereafter he was chaplain to the 1st West Yorkshire Regiment and the 2nd Dragoon Guards (Inniskillings) at the city of York.
He came to South Africa in 1922, and for five years was vicar of Mooi River, Natal, and then chaplain of the Seamen’s Institute, Durban, till 1933. During this period he taught and promoted boxing, and became known throughout South Africa as the “Fighting Padre”. In 1932-3 he took two professional boxers to England, Louis Botes and Eddie Maguire, and was in the latter’s corner when he battled with the “iron man”, Jack Casey, at Newcastle-on-Tyne. Jimmy Wilde, the most famous flyweight world-champion of all time, shared the militant padre’s duties on that occasion.
From 1933 to 1938 he was in charge of St. Columba’s, Greenwood Park, and St Martin’s-in-the-Fields, Durban North. He was elected Member of Parliament in 1938, representing Durban North for ten years; and in 1948 was appointed Senator. From December 1949 he was for five years Colonel in the South African Military Staff Corps, Permanent Force, and Deputy Chaplain-General in charge of the Army, Air Force and Navy. He retired in1954, but still does service for the Natal Command.
Of a previous book the Johannesburg Star said: “The member for Durban North writes with grace, wit and humour.” The Cape Argus stated: “Its preparation could have been entrusted to nobody more suitable than the Rev. C. F. Miles-Cadman, an M.P. whose integrity and honesty of purpose are as unquestioned as the easy incisiveness of his oratory.”
Another reference of interest is from the book The Island: A history of Robben island, 1488-1990, edited by Harriet Deacon.
In parliament the Rev. C. F. Miles-Cadman, who had served on the Island as an army chaplain, asked what the government’s plans were. General Smuts replied on 16 April that the Island was to be the headquarters of the coastal artillery, “the heart of the defences of this city”.
At 154 Mahatma Gandhi (formerly Point) Road is the Seamen’s Institute building, 1903 & 1913. Also known as the Seafarers’ Club, It is described by Prof. Brian Kearney in A Revised Listing of the Important Places and Buildings in Durban, 1984, as a three storied Edwardian clubhouse with a complex Baroque Revival facade, porte cochere, attic floor. A significant element of the Point Road streetscape.
Behind this group of buildings is a lane called Albert Terrace and adjacent thereto, a wedge-shaped open space, portion of Block BS of Point, was designated Miles-Cadman Square. A 1946 map also shows this as Recreation Ground. On the 1970s aerial photo map it is shown with the name on the cadastral overlay. The other two sides were Southampton Street and the diagonal Plymouth Road, the latter no longer in existence. The entry in Origin of Durban Street Names, 1957 by John McIntyre reads:
So named in compliment to the Rev. C.F. Miles-Cadman, O.B.E., B.D, B.A., who was chaplain of the nearby Seamen’s Institute for some years; M.P. for Durban North from 1938; Senator in 1948; Chaplain-General to Union Defence Force with rank of Colonel.
With the development of uShaka Marine World, this space is now incorporated into the open car park serving that facility. The name has been discarded however; it is now simply lot 76 / 12524. Possibly this was just an oversight, as there was no signposting at that time nor any memorial there. There have been proposals for medium rise development on this land, taking into account the need to retain sufficient public parking for Marine World.
I suggest for consideration that this colourful character in church, military and political history of the city during the 1930s and 40s be again commemorated in this vicinity. I have no firm ideas at this stage; possibly a mural on the wall of the building at the rear of the Seamen’s site (above the windows?), and/or standard brown heritage site signs, the ones with the hourglass symbol, placed at the south-west and south-east street corners of the block.
Miles-Cadman Square may well have overlapped with the earlier “Bamboo Square” informal settlement. No attempt has been made to denote this space. Perhaps this should also be addressed in some way.