Decades of memories for trendsetting Durban mall

The original Musgrave Centre, built in the 1950s.

The original Musgrave Centre, built in the 1950s.

Published May 26, 2024


Durban — Built in the 1950s, the Musgrave Centre – today’s feature in Durban’s old and present cityscapes – is a first for suburban malls.

Facts About Durban contributor John Taylor described his memories. “It’s probably fair to say that Musgrave Centre in its original form was the first suburban shopping centre in Durban.

“As I recall it was constructed in the late 1950s, and I remember it reasonably well because my mother was the receptionist/nurse for the doctor’s consulting rooms on the first floor. The original Musgrave Centre is a far cry from what it is today.

“As I recall there was a Henwoods Hardware Store, a florist, a hobby shop, CNA, a liquor store, a shoe store, a Francis Freres dry cleaning depot, post office, and coffee shop on the ground floor. Up on the first floor there was a public library, doctors’ and dentists’ rooms, an oxygen clinic (whatever that was), the offices of a pharmaceutical company and a restaurant called Chez Nous.

“There were a number of other shops that escape my memory. Unlike the Musgrave Centre of today that stretches all the way between Musgrave and Essenwood Roads, the original Musgrave Centre ended half way between the two, with the area adjoining Essenwood Road being an open tarred parking area.”

A much-expanded Musgrave Centre in Durban. | SHELLEY KJONSTAD Independent Newspapers

Warren Bank remembered the Musgrave Library being “wonderful – in school holidays a librarian would read out loud to all the assembled kids, who were sitting on the carpet – there must have been at least 50 of us. Although everyone loved hearing Devils and Demons it used to scare me, so I stopped going!”

Another contributor, Steven Norminton, wrote of the centre in the 80s: “If I remember correctly the atrium was a series of 3 skylights with different panels of very 70s colours.

“What is now the 3rd floor had what felt like a bridge from shops on the Essenwood Road side to the Musgrave Road side. I remember the cinemas being added in 1992, or opening that year.”

Kjontsad’s recent picture shows how much it has grown to fill its pivotal role in the city.

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