The History of Masonic Grove

 

Facilities offered at the Durban High Court Area Office Suites at Atrium Court - Durban Office Suites"

 

   
   
 

A Short History of Masonic Grove/Dullah Omar Road.

 
 

Stretching from the hubbub of Smith Street (Anton Lembede Street) sweeping past the gravitas of the Durban High Court to the gracious Victoria Embankment (Margaret Mncadi Avenue) with Durban Bay beyond, this is a lane rich in history, probably best illustrated by a discussion of some of the more significant buildings.

 

 
 

 

The present High Court building was designed by architect Stanley Hudson, and built in 1910. It was declared a National monument in 1980. The land had previously been the site of the Bayside Hospital (Natal Government Hospital) from 1861 until it moved in 1879 and changed its name to Addington Hospital.

 

Then in 1880 the land became home to the Durban High School. The latter had been founded in 1866 but had two different sites in town (Smith St and Cato Street), before moving to a wood and iron shed on the site. The School remained there until 1894, when it moved to its current site in St Thomas Rd.

 

From 1895-1907 the building accommodated a portion of the Durban Boys Model School.

A plaque on the Esplanade frontage records some of this history.

 

The lane was originally named Masonic Grove due to the Masonic Temple of Port Natal Lodge EC which was built on the corner of Smith St in 1871. This was destroyed by fire in 1892, but rebuilt and used for Masonic purposes until 1949.

 

Thereafter it was replaced by the multi-storey office block known as Sangro House.

 

From 1894 to 1902 Mahatma Gandhi, of worldwide fame, practiced law from chambers in the vicinity of the present open parking lot behind Salmon Grove Chambers.

 

A commemorative mosaic alcove appears in Beach Grove on the side of Salmon Grove Chambers opposite the back entrance to Atrium Court.

 

 

In 1923 Graham Mackeurtan and other like-minded pioneers of advocates who would be known as the Natal Bar practised from Temple Chambers, which presently houses the administrative offices of the Durban High Court.

 

In 1930 Goodrickes building (now known as Atrium Court) was built at 50 Masonic Grove. This two-storey building was designed at the instance of Mr George Herbert Herron Goodricke and he took a great interest in the construction, being on site daily. It was originally occupied by Goodrickes, a law firm, and was described as unique as far as law offices were concerned, having many novelties and attractions, and no peer.

 

Since 2005 there has been a resurgence of interest in the area from lawyers, given its proximity to the Durban High Court. On 31 August 2006 the Durban High Court Precinct Association was formed with the object of improving the area and maintaining standards.

 

Advocates now occupy Atrium Court and Masonic Grove Chambers and attorneys occupy Lincoln Chambers (formerly Vareco House). The High Court remains in the present buildings with long term plans to expand into the adjacent site presently occupied by the Defence Force, which site runs from the back of the High Court Administrative Offices to Anton Lembede Street. The Defence Force site is presently undergoing major renovations.

 

G D Harpur SC

Member of the KwaZulu-Natal Bar

12 February 2012.

Bibliograpy

  • Goetzsche, Eric: A Bold Hand. The story of Goodrickes 1849-1974
  • Itafa Amalinde Heritage Trust: Durban Architecture and History-A guide
  • Lugg, HC : Historic Natal and Zululand
  • McIntyre,John : Origin of Durban Street Names
  • D J Shaw QC History of the KwaZulu-Natal Bar on the KwaZuluNatal society of Advocates Website

 

 
 

The History of Masonic Grove, Smith Street (Anton Lembede Street), the Durban High Court, Victoria Embankment

 

The History of Masonic Grove, Smith Street (Anton Lembede Street), the Durban High Court, Victoria Embankment