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Breaking the ice on North Beach

A PICTURE of Durban’s Ocean City ice rink and a plot of land for sale at North Beach, taken in 1987.

A PICTURE of Durban’s Ocean City ice rink and a plot of land for sale at North Beach, taken in 1987.

Published Apr 30, 2022

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Durban The old picture this week features North Beach, showing the city’s ice rink and a controversial vacant plot of land earmarked for development.

The picture appeared in the Sunday Tribune on October 15, 1987 with the following caption: “This vacant plot of land at the corner of Durban’s Sol Harris Crescent and John Macintyre Road has been earmarked for highrise development. A group of developers has offered to buy the 2 304 sq/m site and the city council has offered it for freehold sale at an upset price of R325 000. Situated opposite the entrance to the Ocean City ice rink, it is presently being used as a parking lot.”

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As our photographer Shelley Kjonstad’s picture shows, the multi-storey development never materialised, however, all the other buildings in the picture are still extant.

THE DURBAN Ice Arena from the Colony, showing the development in the vacant lot in front. There is a small mosque among the buildings. | Shelley Kjonstad African News Agency (ANA)

The Durban ice rink was an Olympic sized rink and opened in 1955. It had separate skating sections for men’s and women’s events. In 1970 the rink was halved to make space for the Ocean City cinema which was a popular attraction until it closed in 1980. For almost three decades that section of the building remained vacant.

Ocean City was also famed for its glitzy annual pantomime on ice to which many of our readers would have been taken by their parents

The building was bought in 2008 by Sastri Ramiah who set about turning the old cinema into the Olive convention centre. In 2012 the complex underwent substantial renovations and the skating rink was returned to Olympic size.

Today known as the Durban Ice Arena, it is a multi-purpose complex composed of an ice rink, convention centre, exhibition halls and meeting rooms. It is temporarily closed because of Covid-19.

The Independent on Saturday

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