Anyone with a penchant for history, old photographs, and glimpses of days gone by will want to check out the new book by Durban-based author, Nigel Hughes, entitled “Durban in the 1920s and 1930s.” The book showcases an impressive collection of photographs of the city in the interwar years. Hughes, who was born in England but raised in Durban, has for many years been a fervent collector of historical artefacts, including photographs, glass slides, and early paintings. They are now curated in this impressive collection and they will certainly delight the history fundis amongst us.
The book details architectural changes across the city during the 1920s and 30s, revealing what building and cultural points of interest looked like in these years. Hughes shares that during this period Durban was: “a small town, ruled by the old Durban families, and it had the remnants of having been a colony.” Each photograph in the book comes with an accompanying text through which Hughes offers insights into Durban during those times.
In one photograph, Hughes shows the Grey Street Mosque and other surrounded by ox-wagons and rickshaws, truly reflecting the way of life at the time. Another reveals an accident between a cyclist and a bus on the corner of Gillespie and West Street in 1938. Hughes uses this photograph to demonstrate how “racially widely varied” the crowd was in the pre-apartheid period.
If you want to explore this stunning evocation of Durban in the interwar years, you can purchase the book here. Those with a love for painting and history should also be sure to check out Hughes’s other publications, including The Paintings of The Bay of Natal: A Selection of Works Dating From 1845 to 1982 and Views in Colonial Natal: A Select Catalogue Raisonne of Southern African Paintings of Cathcart William Methven (1849 -1925).
Do you have any old photographs of Durban? We would love to see them!