• VENUE: KwaMUHLE MUSEUM Bram Fischer Road [Ordnance Road] Durban.
  • TIME: Meeting commences at 17h30; Refreshments will be served from 16h45.
  • PARKING: Off Bram Fischer/Ordnance road [next to the Museum]; security person is present who will raise the boom; please wait for him
  • FEATURE: We are so fortunate to have Dr. GCINA MHLOPE as our guest Speaker this month. She is an author, poet, playwright, director, performer and storyteller who, as a child, was influenced by her grandmother’s tales. In 2012 Gcina was awarded her fifth Honorary Doctorate by the University of Johannesburg. Her topic is “THE MULTI CULTURAL FACE OF DURBAN” and Gcina says she “will share stories and songs in, old and new, contemporary tales of this amazing city of eThekwini.”


Such an intriguing insight into “Royal Jewellery” was given to us by Mr Theunis Eloff in his well-researched talk with accompanying photos – it was fascinating to see some Royalty wearing the items! He explained that the royal jewellery is distinct from the official crown jewels. Many of the pieces are from faraway lands and were brought back to the United Kingdom; however in 1911 the Delhi Durbar tiara was made by Garrard & Co for Queen Mary [wife of King George V, Emperor of India] to wear at the Delhi Durbar, part of Queen Mary’s parure of emeralds and diamonds. In 1946, Queen Mary lent the tiara to the then Queen Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother) for the 1947 South African Tour and it remained with her until her death in 2002, when it passed to Queen Elizabeth II. In 2005, it was lent by the Queen to Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.


As you see we now have the letterhead in colour [sorry – the members who receive the Newsletter by post only have a black and white copy because colour printing adds to the cost!] The old Dutch ship on the right is the emblem designed by the original Cape branch, founded in 1905 – and originally was the emblem for the whole country. The South African National Society (Natal Branch) was founded in 1907. To quote from the invitation to the 75thanniversary dinner of our Branch “…. it followed in the footsteps of the Cape branch… for the purpose of the preservation of objects of natural or historical interest. We are thus the pioneer society in the field of conservation of our National heritage.” On the left is the refurbished logo, designed by Mrs Daphne Strutt, of the Old House Museum. In 1974 Daphne Strutt –when she was Curator of the Local History Museum- wrote an article in which she said “Durban’s Old House Museum in St Andrew’s Street [now Diakonia street] …. is a typical cottage in mid-Victorian style under indigenous trees in a garden. The Old House stood on half an acre running down from St Andrew’s street to the mangrove swamps. The first owner was Donald Moodie, then Colonial Secretary of Natal, who bought the land for £51 17s 6d in 1849 & sold it the same year to John Goodricke. John Goodricke built the first half of the house, the main supports being mangrove poles (the salt in them was said to discourage termites) and the walls wattle and daub lime-washed inside and out, the roof thatch. The building had a veranda all round, for shade and to protect the walls. In 1850 the house was sold to G.H. Wirsing for £100 and a piano. The second section was then built of brick; with yellow-wood floors and ceiling it became a superior dwelling….. In 1858 George Robinson bought the house, his neighbours being the Millers, Churchills, Gillespies, and, for a while, the Feildens. George Robinson’s son John became “an important man”….who went to England in 1887 “ to press for responsible government, granted in 1893, with Sir John Robinson, who had been knighted in 1889, as prime minister.” It was just before the Second World War that the current owner Mr G. Churton Collins offered the city the Old House, to be administered by Durban’s museum department and the Old House was opened to the public in 1954. Daphne Strutt and Killie Campbell were friends and both committee members of SANS. “Dr Killie Campbell with the Natal Branch of the South African National Society persuaded many people in Durban and Natal to search their homes and produce their family treasures.” The original house had to be rebuilt and “in 1953 when the Old House had been completed [all the collected historical items] “ in the room at the Durban Museum and later collections by the National Society were placed in the Natal Settlers Old House Museum, opened on 12 June 1954 by the Hon. D.G.Shepstone, Administrator of Natal.”


A visit to Maritzburg College which celebrates its 150 year centenary this year will take place on Saturday 5th October 2013. We will meet in College grounds before a visit to their museum and a talk given by Simon Haw previously head of the history department and at present Secretary of the Maritzburg Heritage Society. Simon has been kind enough to organise tea for our members.
Date: Saturday 5 October 2013
Time: 11:30 am
Venue: Meet at the statue in the oval of the main drive at Maritzburg College
Transport: Own cars.

To end a quotation from one of Gcina Mhlope’s poems:

It is truly marvellous, wonderful and comforting To know that I have eyes to read Hands that can write And an enormous love for words Look forward to seeing you on the 10th!

Naureen Craig

Newsletter September 2013