About Old Court House

Once a courthouse, the Old Court House is the oldest public building in the central business district. It was loop-holed during the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879.  It bore witness to both the South African Wars and the Bhambatha Uprising. More recently, it also served as a canteen and recruitment centre during the two World Wars and then later as a library, before being converted into Durban’s biggest history museum. It boasts two floors of exhibition space depicting aspects of the region’s early history.

Visit the Old Court House Museum, just a stone’s throw from the City Hall, where the background and development of Natal’s multi-cultural heritage converge.  The exhibitions are both conventional and exploratory while the exhibits are arranged thematically.

This is the resource centre for the Local History Museums. Should you be seeking a more in-depth perspective of Durban’s history you are invited to visit the enquiry section to view photographs and documents in the comfort of our study area. Our archives are open to learners, academics and the general public for research purposes.


Permanent displays on the ground floor include:

  • The recent acquisition display where visitors may see a constantly updated selection items recently acquired by the museums.
  • Unique Collectables of Lipchitz extensive miniature car Collection.

Take the lift or the stairs to the enchanting ‘Durban Room’ where olden days in Natal are vividly portrayed by four walk-in exhibits:

  • A reconstruction of Henry Francis Fynn’s wattle and daub cottage, made out of the very same materials used by the settlers in the 1830s in and around Durban Bay;
  • A Sugar mill from Clairmont displayed a reconstructed 1860s sugar crusher and boilers;
  • Miss Fann’s fancy repository, housed in a typical Durban wood and iron building of the 1880s where a quaint collection of second hand jewellery, linen porcelain and toys were offered for sale;
  • David B. Anderson’s apothecary druggist and chemist shop of 1907 represents a typical Edwardian pharmacy first established on the corner of Bulwer and Clark Roads.

On the first floor is also the popular Natal’s historical ‘Movers and Shakers’, a three dimensional form figurines displayed since 1987 which presents an historical pageant of the region’s “who’s who” and include internationally known personalities such as Albert Luthuli, Mohandas Gandhi and Alan Paton;

The Old Court House Museums has an active temporary exhibition programme which enables it to show off its diverse collections.

Come & Explore!

Keep updated!

Sign-up for our newsletter: