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Durban’s Tollgate Bridge (Part Two)

By 6th February 2020February 20th, 2020Articles

Last week we wrote about the fascinating history of Durban’s famous Tollgate Bridge, and how it was named for the old toll gate that stood at the top of Berea Road (now King Dinuzulu Road). The toll gate was erected in 1866 as a means of paying for the hardening of the road, with a toll house built alongside it. The toll keeper resided in the house, so that he could be on hand day and night to take the money that was payable for using the new road.

Eventually though, in 1901, the toll was abolished, and as such the gate and house were no longer needed. For many years it was assumed that the toll house had been demolished, but in the 1970s Mrs Daphne Strutt discovered the house intact in Kloof!

Mrs Strutt was originally employed as the curator of the Natal Settlers Old House Museum (now the Old House Museum), and was responsible for the initial setting up of the museum. In the 1960s, Strutt became involved in the campaign to save Durban’s original court house from demolition when the Durban City Council tried to convert the site into a parking lot for its councillors. Her efforts were successful, and Strutt subsequently took up the role as curator of the Local History Museum (now the Old Court House Museum).

It was in her role as curator that Mrs Strutt found herself giving a lecture in Kloof in the 1970s, when she made the incredible discovery that the wood and iron toll house had in fact survived! All that was known previously was that, in 1901, the house had been dismantled and loaded onto two wagons when it was sold off. It seems that the house had been reassembled on a plot in Kloof Falls Drive, where it had remained ever since.

In the early 1970s a young married couple, Alain and Rosslyn Rouillard, had been looking for land in Kloof, when they discovered a plot with an old wood and iron cottage. The structure was quite dilapidated, but offered the Rouillards the temporary accommodation that they needed while they made plans to build their new home.

At the time that the story of the rediscovery of the toll house was published in Restorica, the journal of the Simon van der Stel Foundation (today the Heritage Association of South Africa), the Rouillards were about to start building their new home. Unfortunately, the toll house would need to be dismantled to make way for the new building. A number of Kloof residents set about trying to find a site for the old toll house, with Mrs Strutt offering to donate the old toll gate, which at the time was being stored at the back of the Old House Museum.

Unfortunately, it’s not known whether or not the residents were successful in trying to find land to relocate the toll house. If any of our readers have any information as to what became of the structure, please do let us know in the comments section below!

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