Durban - This week’s pictures of old and new Durban were provided by Arthur Gammage and Boaz Chaves. Chaves discovered this 1934 painting by RS Deeves while visiting the Five Roses Tea office in Mahatma Gandhi (Point) Road. Displayed in its reception foyer, it shows a view of Dr Pixley KaSembe (West) Street from Dorothy Nyembe (Gardiner) Street.
Notable in this picture, to the right of centre, is the Colonial Mutual Life building, which was the city’s first “skyscraper” in art deco style, completed in 1933. On the left is Reed and Champion’s Chemist with the Model Dairy above. This site was called “Kahts’ Corner” from the mid-1800s and once featured a rose garden.
It then became known as Reed and Champion’s corner as the business traded here for over a century, including the entire lifetime of the classical styled Kenilworth building, followed by the 15-storey Trust Building of 1939, then the tallest building in the city as seen in the second picture. This was designed by Kallenbach, Kennedy and Furner. Architect Hermann Kallenbach was a close associate and friend of Mohandas Gandhi.
In 1993, the property, now known as Westgard House, was incorporated into a larger site for the Old Mutual redevelopment. Westgard was demolished by implosion and replaced by the present double-storey low rise corner structure. Again the pharmacy returned for a period.
In today’s view from the same place, only the landmark Colonial Mutual Life building remains. This was an Australian firm, and their offices were designed by architects Hennessey & Hennessey, who created the Durban building in collaboration with local architect LA Elsworth.