The KZN Legislature in Pietermaritzburg today with the City Hall in the background.
The KZN Legislature in Pietermaritzburg today with the City Hall in the background.

Then & Now: KZN Legislature

By Frank Chemaly Time of article published Nov 11, 2020

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The picture for our Then & Now series this week features the KZN parliament in Pietermaritzburg and also takes in many of the city’s historic buildings. It is from a postcard and probably dates back to the early 1900s.

The building was erected to house the Legislative Assembly when the colony of Natal was granted representative government. The foundation stone was laid on June 21, 1887, by the Governor, Sir A E Havelock. It was designed by John Frederick Evelyn Barnes and was opened in 1889.

The KZN Legislature in Pietermaritzburg today with the City Hall in the background.

The statue in front of the building is of Queen Victoria and was erected to commemorate her 50th jubilee in 1887. The building achieved national monument status in March 1968.

Today the buildings at 239 Langalibalele (Longmarket) Street still perform their original function, housing the 80-member KZN legislature.

Also in the picture, obliquely from the side, is the site of the former Pietermaritzburg Supreme Court building which now houses the Tatham Art Gallery.

The Pietermaritzburg City Hall on the corner of Albert Luthuli (Commercial) Road and Church Street is clearly visible. This was built on the grounds of the old 'raadsaal' (meeting hall), and dominates the city centre with its 50m clock tower. It is said to be the largest all-brick building in the Southern Hemisphere and houses one of the world's largest pipe organs. The first city hall was built in 1893 and was destroyed by fire in 1898. The Duke of Cornwall and York (later King George V), opened the current city hall after restoration, on August 14, 1901.

Behind the KZN Legislature you can see the superstructure of the Colonial Building on Church Street built in the late English Renaissance Style which housed the administration of the colonial government.

In taking the modern picture last month, our photographer Shelley Kjonstad would like to thank Mbeko Nzimande of the uMgungundlovu District Municipality who kindly assisted by taking us onto the roof of their offices across the road to achieve the height to match the original photograph.

The Independent on Saturday appeals to readers who have old pictures of Durban and other parts of the province to send them to us for consideration. If any readers are featured in the old picture, we will do our best to recreate the scene with them in it again. Readers sending pictures digitally – images should be about 1MB – can address them, with the relevant information, to [email protected]

If the pictures are in hard copy format, they can be posted to The Editor, Old Pictures, The Independent on Saturday, PO Box 47549, Greyville, 4023.

The Independent on Saturday

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