Saturday, April 21, 2018

Souvenir Saturday: Signalman's Quarters, Bluff, Durban ca 1900

The uniformed signalman is stepping down the ladder, presumably about to ride his horse into town - his assistant is holding the animal in readiness - no jumping into a car in those days. The signal equipment is centre pic but extends beyond the dimensions of this photograph. The roof of the building is iron and it has wooden walls. This would have been office and living quarters.

Another view of the signal station on the left, lightkeeper's quarters centre, with tent, and Bluff Lighthouse at right - in its original condition i.e. before concrete added to exterior to 'strengthen' it. My great grandfather, Thomas Alfred Gadsden, the lighthousekeeper, makes reference to his family 'living in a tent on the Bluff' at one stage.

Friday, April 20, 2018

When was the Edwardian era?

This is a question I am often asked. Wikipedia tells us 'The Edwardian era covers the brief reign of King Edward VII, 1901 to 1910, and is sometimes extended in both directions to capture long-term trends from the 1890s to the First World War. The death of Queen Victoria in January 1901 marked the end of the Victorian era.'

However, it is difficult to be precise about the term 'era'. Sometimes there is an invisible 'feel' to certain years which may categorise them as Victorian or Edwardian. Victorian society was very conservative while the years that Edward VII was on the throne were more relaxed from the point of view of morals and behaviour. The Edwardian years saw the rise of such things as electricity, motor cars, telephones etc, which would become standard in the modern world. 

In South Africa, the British were fighting a war against the Boers when Queen Victoria died in 1901. Before the end of this war was in sight, some 500 000 men of the British Empire were in the field. In another dozen years vast numbers of men would die in World War I. Not an entirely happy start to the twentieth century, yet life went on and we know from surviving photographs that fashion was still important, especially to the female population who were well-heeled enough to follow trends. 

Changes of fashion had been reported in women's magazines during most of the 19th century but in South Africa women had had to rely on fashion plates which may have been out of date. This changed as by the turn of the century overseas magazines were readily available to South African ladies who were then able to keep up with developments.

Edwardian lady's costume 1905 displays the era's typical features:
 large hat perched precariously on top of the head, the  
pouter pigeon effect to the front of the bodice, 
and the hair swept up and bouffant. Long flowing skirt and tiny waist (good corseting),
large puffy sleeves. A frothy, feminine style. This lovely lady would be welcome
in anyone's drawing room for tea and cucumber sandwiches.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Passengers to Natal per Dane, Priscilla, Eleonore and Eveline 1863

and DEPARTURE OF HEATHEL [sic] BELL - Natal Mercury June 23 1863

June 20, RMS Dane, from Cape Town and intermediate ports. Cargo, general.
From Cape Town:
Lieut Harrison
P Milner
From Algoa Bay:
Mr Henry (Consul General Belgium)
Mr and Mrs Botha and child
Mr and Mrs Thornhill and three children
From East London:
Miss Driver
R Walker
Lieut Tolner (Tollner)
Dr Tate
Mr and Mrs McKay and two children
Professor Hansen
Left Table Bay June 12 at 3 p.m., arrived at Algoa Bay on the 15th, at 1 p.m.; left Algoa Bay on the 16th, at 1 p.m., arrived off East London on the 17th, at 1 p.m., sea too high to land; left East London on the 18th, at 1 p.m. arrived at Port Natal and came to anchor on the 20th, at 10.30 a.m.
- J Brown, agent.

June, Priscilla, barque, 253 tons, G Brown, from London, sailed 2nd April. General cargo.
J Vincent
Reginal Bowers
Mrs Greening, son and daughter
- Handley and Dixon, agents.

June 21, Eleonore, barque, 302 tons, C Jonains, from Algoa Bay, sailed 10th June.
Mr Hugill

June 21, Eveline, schooner, 101 tons, G Murison, from Cape Town, sailed 16th June,
Mr HB Portland
- McArthur and Co., agents.

June 18, Heathel Bell barque 257 tons, R Thomas, to Ceylon, in ballast.
Mrs Eastwood and two children.

*Thomas Alfred Gadsden my g grandfather would later become lightkeeper at the Bluff Lighthouse and marry Eliza Ann Bell, daughter of Port Captain William Bell. 

Priscilla barque 1863; Capt G Brown

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Passengers to Natal: Rochester 1862

Arrival of the barque Rochester at Port Natal, 17 November 1862

November 17 - Rochester, barque, Wm Bruce, 393 tons, from London 21 August

Mr and Miss Atkinson
Mr and Mrs Crossley and 5 children
Mr and Mrs Cartwright
Mr and Mrs Williams
Rev and Mrs Guard and child
Mr Poole

Second Cabin

Mr and Mrs Henry
Mr and Mrs Durrant and 3 children
Mr Bremner
John and Samuel Pinder
Mary A Wrightson
Mr and Mrs Smith

Departure: Rochester
23 February for Singapore
Mr Woody

Three masted barque similar to Rochester

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Souvenir Saturday: Arnold family

Julia Elizabeth Jessie Arnold nee Irvine 1865-1940. Julia married
William Marshall Arnold 5 May 1884, St Paul's Cathedral, Durban
 Photographed by W L Caney

Even though a photo may not be in tip-top condition, it's always a pleasure for me to receive photographs which include ALL the clues, including the edges of the card, as square or rounded corners were used at various dates. The mount and back of the photo are as important as the front view showing the subject. These areas often give the studio name - in this case, William Laws Caney. The latter was in Durban 1883 -1893, advertising the 'best lighted and most convenient cabinet portraits available from 1 pound per dozen.' He moved to Pietermaritzburg and was there for some years, in 1909 operating at 208 Church Street.

Acknowledgements: Peter Hare and Dale Schultz

Friday, April 13, 2018

Titanic echoes from the deep ...

What do a decorative hair comb, a violin and case, a porcelain teacup and saucer (broken) have in common? They are all artefacts recovered from the wreck of the Titanic. It is right that they should not be left in perpetual darkness. 

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

See more at

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Passengers to Natal per RMS Saxon 1867

ARRIVAL OF RMS SAXON Natal Mercury April 24 1867

Built in 1863 at Southampton, the Union liner Saxon was 1,142 tons and a sister to the Roman. Her maiden voyage to the Cape in 1863 was made in the record time of 31 days, which she later improved upon reaching Cape Town in 28 days out of London. According to the mail contract 38 days was the allotted time taken by the Union steamers. In 1870 her graceful lines - and her speed - were spoilt by the addition of a poop, and in 1876 she was sold to a company in Hull who renamed her Benguella. She was lost at sea in 1890.

The Natal Mercury reported:
This steamer arrived at the outer anchorage about two o'clock yesterday afternoon, after a quick run of less than five days from Cape Town, which she left on the 18th inst., having arrived there at 8.30 p.m. on the 15th, also in five days from Natal.

For Port Natal
FWB Louch
JD Reeves
A Horwood
Miss Wilson
Capt Chaplain
Col H Tower and servant
Rev Mr and Mrs Turnbull
Miss Lloyd
Capt Blythe
Mrs Jackson and child
Mr and Mrs Donovan
For Mauritius
Mons De H de Cessan
Capt Layboyne
Mr J Sewell
Rev Mr and Mrs Street
Mr Von Abo
For Point de Galle
Mrs Dempsey

The Saxon left Algoa Bay at noon on Monday, the 23rd.
The Roman arrived in Table Bay on the 16th with the English mails of March 10th. Her news of course has been mostly anticipated by the Mauritius mail.
The mails were landed with very prompt dispatch by the tug, and delivered with the dispatch usual on such occasions at our post office.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Passengers to Natal per Silvery Wave, Medusa and Tirsah 1863

and DEPARTURE OF RMS NORMAN   Natal Mercury November 3 1863

Oct 31 - Medusa, barque, 260 tons, W Lancaster, from London, sailed August 14.
Mr and Mrs Evans
Mr and Mrs Eastwood and five children
Mr and Mrs Moore
Mr and Mrs Jackson
Miss Onge
Mr and Mrs Tredwall and child
Mr and Miss Fuller
Mr Rait
General cargo.
AW Evans, agent.

Nov - Silvery Wave, 201 tons, C Warren, from London; sailed August 1.
Mr and Mrs Tarbotton
Mr and Mrs Wilkes and family
Second Cabin
Mr and Mrs Brooks
Miss Dyson
Turner (2)
J Hardy
Mr and Mrs Brenken and family
General cargo.
Handley and Dixon, agents.

Nov 1 - Tirsah, 123 tons, T Richards, from London; sailed August 1.
Mr WW Foster
J Brown, agent.

Oct 28 - Elizabeth Anne, 147 tons, J Lewis, to Mauritius in ballast.
Gillespie and Co, agents.
Oct 31 - RMS Norman, 500 tons, RB Davies, for Cape Town, and intermediate ports.

For Cape Town
First Class
Van der Byl
W Dacomb
RJ Dill
Mrs Smith
Mrs Pope
Second Class
Mr Jno Smith
Mrs and Master Kermode
Algoa Bay
First Class
Mr E Marsh
Second Class
Mr Charles Williams
Mr McLeod
East London
Mr Fuller
J Brown, agent.

Oct 31 - Monsoon, barque, 296 tons, W Turnbull, for Mauritius, in ballast.
Gillespie and Co, agents.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Passengers to Natal per Eudora 1864

EUDORA Natal Government Gazette 22 September 1864
Immigration Board

It is hereby notified for the information of those whom it may concern, that the following Emmigrants have arrived by the Eudora:-

Brown, Elizabeth - Servant
Brooks, Charles - Carpenter
Brooks, Elizabeth
Brooks, James
Brooks, Elizabeth
Barret, Christian - Domestic Servant
Crocket, Janet - Dressmaker
Craig, John - Storekeeper
Donoghue, Thomas - Farm Laborer
Elliott, Susan H - Dressmaker
Edwards, Elizabeth - Servant
Evans, Richard - Laborer
Fahy, Thomas- Tailor
Flemming, William - Laborer
Flemming, Elizabeth
Flemming, William
Flemming, John
Gove, John - Blacksmith
Garson, David - Blacksmith
Gold, William - Ploughman
Gold, Mary
Hind, Mary - Dressmaker
Johnstone, William - Clerk
Johnstone, Marion
Johnstone, Isabella
Johnstone, Jessie
Johnstone, Helen
Kane, Patrick - Laborer
MacPhail, Dugald - Shopkeeper
Munro, Donald - Carpenter
Munro, George
Noble, Halliburton - Apothecary
Noble, James - Plumber
Noble, Mary
Noble, Anne
Graham, Agnes - Servant
Plowright, John D - Shoemaker
Plowright, Louisa
Plowright, James
Rogers, George - Mason
Speight, Annie - Servant
Steele, Alexander - Carpenter
Steele, Jessie
Samways, Sarah - Domestic Servant
Sinclair, Duncan - Shepherd
Sinclair, Margaret
Sinclair, Archibald
Sinclair, Donald
Sinclair, Sarah
Taylor, John - Blacksmith
Thomson, Jessie - Servant
Thomson, William
Tweedie, Jane - Wife
Tweedie, Elizabeth
Tweedie, Anne
Tweedie, Robert
Tweedie, John
Tweedie, Joanna
Woolridge, William - Blacksmith
Woolridge, Mary
Woolridge, WH
O'Conner, Cathe
Lucas, Emily

JAMES CRAW, Secretary Immigration Board Sept 22, 1864

Not the Eudora but a similar three-master of the time, beautifully painted.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Souvenir Saturday: Arnold family - sons of W M Arnold ca 1902

Five sons of William Marshall Arnold: a delightful photograph by H Kisch ca 1902.
I like the sporting touches - tennis racket, cricket bat and football.

Acknowledgements: Peter Hare and Dale Schultz.