Looking back on South Coast history: July 15 to 18

The centre of Margate could get rather muddy before the proper roads were built. pic: Herald archives

A REMINDER that the Mzimkhulu was once, if not exactly a ‘mighty river’, at least a reasonable watercourse, comes in the July 15, 1949, edition of the South Coast Herald.

July 15


“With the modesty that has characterised the whole of their shipbuilding enterprise, the Upton brothers made no public announcement of their sailing date from the estuary of the Mzimkhulu, where their 48-foot home-built ketch was launched some months ago and where it was finally rigged and fitted with its wheelhouse and diesel engine.”

In the same issue it was reported that Margate’s road construction programme was forging ahead and, dispite drastic loan restrictions having been placed on local authorities by National Treasury, it was hoped that approval would be forthcoming for at least a proportion of the £4 000 loan for which the council was currently negotiating.

The Umzimkulu Sugar Co Ltd posted a notice in the paper to the effect that trippers found pilfering cane and/or trespassing in the company’s lands would be prosecuted.


Roads were back in the news on July 15, 1955 with news that Port Shepstone’s ‘Terrible Mile’ – Colley Street – would not be tarred until such time as more favourable financial conditions for the work could be obtained.


July 15: “The Natal Outboard Boating Club held its speedboat regatta on the Mzimkhulu river at Port Shepstone in perfect weather on Sunday.”

Natal Outboard Boating Club regatta, Port Shepstone 1960. pic: Herald archives


The success of the South African Youth Arts Council Music Camp, which was held at Port Shepstone High School, was reported on July 15, 1966 and there was a reminder to everyone who wanted to move to the Village of Happiness to return their application forms.


The elderly featured in the news again on July 15 1977, when it was reported: “Hundreds, possibly thousands, of old age pensioners are not being paid their pensions on time and are suffering considerable hardship as a result.”


Another topic still familiar to this day came up in 1983, when the Herald of July 15 announced that the newspaper had launched a drought relief fund to help sink boreholes in the drought-stricken inland area of the Lower South Coast.


“An historic railway journey to Paddock and a ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the official opening of the Port Shepstone and Alfred County Railway, the first privatised railway line in South Africa.”

Transport Minister Eli Louw cuts the ribbon to open the Port Shepstone and Alfred County Railway, with railway company directors, Charles Lewis (left) and Allan Jorgensen, 1988. pic: Herald archives

July 16


July 16, 1965, saw the announcement that the plans for the Village of Happiness had been approved and, as we have already seen, a year later – almost to the day – people were being reminded to post their applications for residence.

The day also saw the next stage in the area’s battle to get better lines of communication. “The Southern Natal Public Bodoes’ Association has tried to persuade the minister to change his mind about electrifying the South Coast railway line only as far as Kelso Junction and to continue it to its terminus, Port Shepstone.”


By July 1976 the battle over the terms for the amalgamation of various boroughs and town boards was getting quite heated. “Marburg and Umtentweni are to take their anti-amalgamation fight to the Supreme Court.”

July 17


“Had there been a party on the night before World War II was declared like the one held at the Margate Airport hangar last Saturday night, it is doubtful whether there would ever have been a war,” declared the South Coast Herald of July 17, 1987. There are many people living on the coast who still talk about THAT party to this day!

July 18


“Telephone subscribers in the Ramsgate area now have a continuous telephone service.”


July 18 saw a report of high seas smashing two tidal pools.


Local politics were very much on the agenda on July 18, 1986, when more than 200 people passed a vote of no confidence in Bendigo’s town clerk and town board chairman.


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Susan Cooke
Features Editor

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