Saturday, September 4, 2010

Point (M 14)

Name: Point

No story and record of the Durban railway and it's locomotives would be complete if the Bluff Railway was ignored. Four years before the building of the Durban - Point railway, a line just 100 yards short of one mile had been constructed and was in operation on the Bluff side of Durban harbour. There was little glamour in this compared to the fanfare and ceremony experienced across the bay in 1860, and today nothing remains of this venture, which had such an important effect on the viability of the port.

The picture, above left, shows a view taken from the Bluff and showing the wooden railway running along the fringe of the bush. The map of the railway, above right, was drawn by PC Sutherland in 1860. Click the pictures to view enlargements. Images courtesy Terry Hutson.

To understand the reasons for the building of this little railway, it is necessary to examine some of the background. The commencement of Durban, as a settlement for whites from the Cape and Europe had its beginnings in 1824, when a party of traders under the leadership of Lieut. Francis G Farewell, RN, with about twenty other adventurers, was given permission by the Governor of the Cape Colony to establish a station at Natal "for the advancement of. trade and civilisation". Prior to this the bay at Port Natal, or Durban as it was to become, had experienced few European visitors since Vasco da Gama's reported visit here in 1497 with his Portuguese. The exceptions were those unfortunate souls who were shipwrecked in the vicinity during the next three and a quarter centuries, and forced to remain in the shelter of the bay of Natal and await rescue or build new ships to make good their escape.


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