A trolleybus turns into Fenniscowles Road from Bartle Road in Umbilo.
A trolleybus turns into Fenniscowles Road from Bartle Road in Umbilo.

Riding the Umbilo bus

By Frank Chemaly Time of article published May 15, 2021

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Durban - The old picture this week shows the intersection of Bartle and Fenniscowles roads in Umbilo with an old Durban trolleybus turning into Fenniscowles Road. It was probably taken in the 1950s or 1960s. On the left of the intersection is a block of flats named Clifton, and on the right Highbury with its distinctive round art deco-inspired windows.

Many readers have fond memories of Durban’s trolleybuses which ran in the city from 1935 to 1968. Durban operated the first major trolleybus system in South Africa.

Durban’s first trams were horse drawn and opened in March 1880. The network converted to electricity in May 1902. The trolleybus system opened in 1935 to start replacing the tram network which finally closed in August 1949. It was run by Durban Corporation Transport.

The scene today at the corner of Bartle and Fenniscowles roads, Umbilo. Shelley Kjonstad/African News Agency(ANA)

One of the unique aspects of Durban’s trolleybuses was that they were fitted with fishing rod racks at the back.

The trolleybus pictured here was plying route 7 which started in town in West (Dr Pixley kaSeme) Street and ended at the Umbilo terminus probably on Gower Street or Oliver Lea Drive. It included Queen Mary (Sphiwe Zuma) Avenue, Bartle Road and Prospect Road.

In the modern picture taken this week, our photographer Shelley Kjonstad went back to the spot four times, to get the light right, and to get a bus in the picture.

The Independent on Saturday

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