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Durban Buildings & Architecture
Victorian and Edwardian
Revivals with innovation
The Victorian style has its roots in the revival of Greek and Roman architecture, with particular emphasis on civic buildings. Such buildings occupy dominant positions, are placed on high pedestals and employ porticoes, and their designs involved the ordering of parts into well-composed wholes, fused with the material innovations flowing from the industrial revolution, particularly the use of wrought and cast iron, and it was usual that prestige commissions were awarded by architectural competition.
In 1824 a British encampment was established under Francis Farewell on the northern shore of the Bay of Natal and in 1835 this settlement was named Durban after Sir Benjamin d’Urban, governor of the Cape Colony. What is now the Province of KwaZulu-Natal was proclaimed a separate British colony under the authority of Queen Victoria in 1856. The development of commercial sugar plantations along the coast from the 1870s onwards was followed by vigorous economic growth, which with the discovery of gold in Johannesburg in 1886, saw the development of Durban harbour.
With numerous British immigrants and a buoyant building activity dependent on Britain for architectural styles and talents, it was quite natural that the town which emerged was Victorian in character, which in large part still constitutes the experience of downtown Durban.
Researcher: Prof. Walter Peters
Photographer(s): Angela BucklandUnknown
Contributor(s): Lindsay Napier