1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Durban

Durban, Natal, S. Africa (see 8.696). Pop. (1911) 34,880 whites and 53,118 natives, Asiatic and coloured. In 1918 the whites numbered 41,865 (with suburbs 48,413), natives (estimated) 26,000 Asiatics; and other coloured persons, 23,750; total 91,615. Durban’s importance and prosperity depends upon its port (Port Natal), but since 1910 it has become a manufacturing place of some note. It is the most compact of the larger S. African towns, the borough covering only 12 square miles.

Chief among modern buildings are the new Town Hall (opened 1910) and the Law Courts. The latter face the Victoria Embankment, a fine thoroughfare along Bay Beach, i.e. the Bay of Natal. At the Point, overlooking the eastern entrance to the harbour, an equestrian statue of Dick King, commemorative of his great ride to seek help for the infant settlement, was erected in 1915. From Ocean Beach a semi-circular pier, over 900 ft. long, encloses a bathing place free from sharks. Ocean Beach, with its esplanade and park and fine hotels, forms the chief attraction during the Durban winter season (May to Sept.) when the mean maximum temperature is 76° F. For horse-racing fixtures Durban ranks only second to Johannesburg among the cities of South Africa.

Vessels are constantly engaged in dredging the bar at the entrance to the harbour; the lowest depth of water at the entrance is 36 ft., the minimum depth at the quayside varies from 22 to 30 ft. The harbour is equipped with every facility for the rapid loading and unloading of ships. At Congella, at the N.E. end of the harbour, some 220 ac. of land had been reclaimed and 3,460 ft. of wharfage provided by 1920. Here timber and bulky goods are handled. Congella is also the centre for manufactures; it has cold-storage accommodation and does a large export trade. It was, however, the development of coaling facilities, made practicable by the nearness of the Natal coalfields, that placed Durban in 1913–4 above Cape Town as premier port of the Union. The coal bunkered at Durban, 1,196,000 tons in 1913, rose greatly during the war, but fell to 608,000 tons in 1918–9. In the same year, however, the export of coal rose to 704,000 tons compared with 261,000 in 1917–8. The rival to Durban for coal exports in South Africa is not Cape Town but Delagoa Bay, which exports the coal from the Transvaal mines. In 1918, in which year there was a great falling off in the number of ships visiting the port, the total tonnage of cargo landed, shipped and transhipped at Durban was 2,373,000—it had been 2,801,000 in 1916. In 1919 shipping increased, the total net tonnage entering the port being 2,959,000, of which 2,562,000 tons were British.

In 1910 a wireless station was opened at Durban; the first in South Africa. It has a normal range of 300 m. by day and 1,000 m. by night. In 1918—year ending July 31—the rateable valuation of Durban was £12,378,000, the revenue £1,095,000 and indebtedness £3,135,000. In that year the net profit on municipal trading was £110,000; in 1920 the municipal valuation was £13,546,000.