A 1909 picture of ricksha pullers outside Lord’s Ground.
A 1909 picture of ricksha pullers outside Lord’s Ground.

Then & Now: Rickshas at Lord’s Ground

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Feb 6, 2021

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Mark Levin

The old 1909 photograph of the rickshas “waiting for fares” is taken from the 1909 Durban Guide lent to us by Marion Ritson of Hillcrest.

This evocative picture of a ricksha taxi rank outside Lord’s Ground in Old Fort Road (KE Masinga Road) at the corner of Umgeni Road, was a profitable rank. Lord’s was Durban’s premier sporting ground from 1895 to 1922 (with an interruption during the Anglo-Boer War) until Kingsmead was opened in 1923.

During Lord’s golden age, it was the scene of Currie Cup cricket and rugby tournaments as well as Internationals. Its athletics track was the finest in the city. The Agricultural Show, military tournaments, pageants and World War I fundraisers were all held at Lord’s.

Rickshas became a popular mode of transport in Durban after their introduction from Japan in 1892. By 1904, there were 2000 registered pullers. Many families had their own private rickshas.

The scene looking down Soldiers’ Way today.

The Durban municipality enacted set fares which ricksha pullers could change per mile (or part thereof) per person. A puller could refuse to pull more than one person and could charge double fares between the hours of 11pm and 5am, while two children under the age of ten years counted as one person.

In the 1909 picture, the domes of the Post Office and nearly-completed City Hall can be seen in the background as well as part of the old Station.

The recent photo is taken about 100m closer at the intersection with Soldiers’ Way (originally Railway Street in 1909). Today it remains a busy thoroughfare with minibus taxis on the left and buses on the right.

The Independent on Saturday

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