Twines Hotel, Durban, was built in 1902 and demolished in 1962.
Twines Hotel, Durban, was built in 1902 and demolished in 1962.

Then & Now: The old lady of Gardiner Street

By Frank Chemaly Time of article published Oct 23, 2021

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The old picture this week takes in the Twines Hotel, built on the corner of Gardiner Street and the Esplanade, today Margaret Mncadi Avenue and Dorothy Nyembe Street.

The hotel was built in 1902, just before the Marine Hotel ‒ which was on the other corner and traded for 60 years ‒ and was closed and demolished in 1962. Ten years later the Marine faced a similar fate. They were known as the two old ladies of Durban.

The hotel overlooked the Dick King statue and what was then the Gardiner Street jetty, where the ferry from the navy base at Salisbury Island came in. A short walk from the jetty, its bar was popular with sailors.

The 18-storey Kingsford stands on the spot today. Shelley Kjonstad/African News Agency(ANA)

On the Facebook page Durban Down Memory Lane, Derick Randell remembers staying at the hotel in his teens when his folks would travel from Rustenburg for holidays. “It was from one of those windows that I used to watch the flying boats take off,” he writes.

Rex Butland remembers the restaurant on the ground floor of Twines in the mid fifties where he would go with his grandfather every week for a hot Durban curry takeaway, dished up in a small billy-can because there was no plastic in those days.

Today at 87 Margaret Mncadi Avenue stands Kingsford, a modernist 18-storey residential highrise, as our photographer Shelley Kjonstad’s pictures show. Kjonstad had to stand considerably further back from the spot where the original shot was taken to get the new building in the picture. The road frontage has also changed considerably.

Twines hotel in 1903 with the Marine Hotel being built on the opposite corner.

The two old ladies of Durban... Twines Hotel on the left with the Marine on the right and the Gardiner Street Jetty.

The Independent on Saturday

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