Bluff News from the 1950s – PART 2

In case you missed it, read from the beginning of the series:

Bluff News from the 1950s – PART 1

BEFORE he recently relocated to the Cape after 55 years on the Bluff, Clive Herron passed a file of newspaper cuttings on to Duncan Du Bois.

The file was compiled by Wakefields Bluff branch and is a fascinating collection of news items from the Mercury and Daily News dealing with the Bluff in the period 1955 to 1957.

Borer infestation:

In October 1955 alarm gripped residents of Brighton Beach following a report that borers had inflicted severe damage to the homes of six residents.

The type of borer was identified as an Italian beetle of the Hylotrupes bajulus species. In three of the cases, the borer emanated from furniture brought from the Cape. Mr TH Marinowitz of the Timber Control Office remarked that the mobility of the borer was such that it could fly up to two miles at a time. He warned that householders who failed to report the presence of borer could be prosecuted.

A subsequent report noted that a further 10 Brighton Beach homes had borer infestation. Meanwhile building societies announced they would grant advances to bondholders affected by borers so that repairs could be carried out. Borer treatment was cited as costing about £90 for an average house.


Bridge over the Bay:

This idea has surfaced on and off over the decades, but 26 November 1955 seems to have been its debut. Bluff Councillor Spanier Marson made the request in a letter to the Works Committee. He cited the increase in the traffic along South Coast Road, then the Bluff’s only link with the city, as motivating the construction of an alternative route. In addition, he said, the bridge would provide easier access for travellers in the city and northern suburbs to reach Louis Botha Airport.

But like subsequent occasions when the idea of bridging the Bay has made brief headlines, the 1955 one came to nought.


Railway housing scheme:

In 1955 the SA Railways set aside £6,5 million to expand services to its staff in Natal. Specifically it sought to purchase land from the City Council in Durban for its staff housing scheme. Parts of the Bluff that the Railways would focus on were Bluff Road, Norman Road and Sidmouth Road. The Council wanted the Railways to contribute £45,000 towards the development of road and storm water infrastructure in the areas affected across the city. Each house was expected to cost between £3,000 and £3,500. But the Bluff Ratepayers objected. Its chairman, Harry Lewis, said the Bluff did not want “another unwanted gift foisted on Durban’s Cinderella suburb” (Daily News, 3 August 1955).


No to maisonettes in Marine Drive area

As we have seen with the recent chairman of the Bluff Ratepayers, Ivor Aylward, his erstwhile predecessor, Harry Lewis was outspoken when it came to the appearance of the Bluff. In August 1955 Lewis accused the City Council of treating the Bluff as a ‘dumping ground’ and that it was ‘contemptuous of the Bluff’.

His remarks related to a town planning recommendation for maisonettes to be built in Herbert Andrews Drive, off Marine Drive.

The basis of Lewis’s opposition was that maisonettes would ‘lower the aesthetic standards’ of Marine Drive which was noted for its fine gardens. He said experience showed that maisonettes tended to be occupied by a transient population many of whom cared little for the upkeep of gardens and buildings. Lewis’s opposition was supported by Bluff Councillor Sidney Smith and as a result the application to build those maisonettes was turned down by the full council.


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Bluff News from the 1950s – PART 3