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 Fortification of Durban

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rusteze

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PostSubject: Fortification of Durban   Mon Feb 26, 2018 6:27 pm

While looking for information on William Hartley I came across a municipal history of Durban (Henderson 1904) which included a description of the defensive measures put in place in the town following Isandhlwana.  

1. The Durban Guard were ordered back from patrolling the Umgeni to guard the Durban Magazine.
2. A Town Guard was enrolled and attracted 204 men.
3. The Borough was divided into 12 blocks and officers appointed to take steps for the defence.
4. The Defence Committee met daily.
5. The market House was made the HQ and ammunition for the citizen force was stored in the Court House, both were loopholed and sandbag defences built on roofs of all large buildings.
6. 170 men were capable of bearing arms but there were insufficient rifles to arm that number.
7. Rifles were of very miscellaneous description and there would have been disastrous confusion when distributing ammunition.
8. 50 mounted men were raised to patrol the Tongaat River.
9. A palisade was erected at the Point extending from the Bay to the Indian Ocean to provide a final refuge should the town be overwhelmed.
10. Men, women and children were detailed to assemble at various forts in case of attack and told what foodstuffs and clothing to take with them.
11. It was decided that should the Zulus approach the town the engine and trucks of the Natal Raiway Company should be manned with riflemen and patrol the line between Umgeni and town.

General Lord Chelmsford inspected the defences on 5th February and pronounced them satisfactory.

The "harassing suspense and constant dread of attack" was not alleviated until the arrival of 200 Bluejackets from HMS Shah on 4th March.

When you consider that the nearest possible point of invasion was 100 km away along the coastal route, and RD was more than 250 km away all this appears quite paranoid does it not?

Steve Reinstadtler
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SRB1965

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PostSubject: Re: Fortification of Durban   Mon Feb 26, 2018 7:33 pm

rusteze wrote:

General Lord Chelmsford inspected the defences on 5th February and pronounced them satisfactory.

I find this part slightly ironic........given the situation of a couple of weeks earlier.... Shocked
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rusteze

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PostSubject: Re: Fortification of Durban   Mon Feb 26, 2018 7:51 pm

Good judge.
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rusteze

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PostSubject: Re: Fortification of Durban   Tue Feb 27, 2018 4:50 pm

With thanks to PO Tom for this plan of the Durban defences. Note that Durnford revised the plan.
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Steve Reinstadtler
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barry

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PostSubject: Durban city street plan   Tue Feb 27, 2018 7:45 pm

Hi Steve/POT,

Most interesting, thanks for posting.

Some observations ;

The map presented appears to be a much later street layout superimposed over the more basic and cruder 1878 situation at which early time when Durbans  'streets' were merely sandy meandering tracks cut through tangled and dense coastal bush, however  ;

1)  the Point railway still follows the path shown
2)  the bend in that railway opposite the Market was the site of the pre 1980 main Durban railway station.
3)  Eastern Vlei is the site of today's Greyville racecourse
4)  Victoria Park and Park extension north of Redan stockade was a WW2 aerodrome (Stamford Hill), but ceased to exist many decades ago.
5)  fortified building at Bay end of Stanger street is todays John Ross house, a 15 story headquarters for Immigration and Customs operations.
6)  Albert Park still exists
7)  Western Vlei was a flood plain of the Umbilo river , which then was a swamp covered in reeds, since drained and canalised and later becoming site of much industry, with the 6 lane dual Southern freeway, to the south coast,  traversing it.
8)   on left hand side of map the road marked ' to Pietermaritzburg ' is todays Berea road and exit to the west, from the city
8)   redoubt marked adjacent to Eastern Vlei is todays Durban Light Infantry drill hall
9)   block marked Gaol C was the main lockup until a new one was built at the Point, ie down in the bottom right of the map.
10)  Pine Terrace became Pine Street.
11)  Gardner St is marked transverse, running from the bay up to the W edge of the market
12)  Burial ground is the present cemetery attached to the Emmanual Cathedral, a place of interment for many AZW personalities and notables.
13)  Many of the city street names have since changed again , commemorating unknown revolutionary  people who had nothing at all constructive to do with with the founding of this once very beautiful coastal city.

regards

barry
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