Visiting the past

1927 was a busy year with the construction and development of the area which became known as Durban North. It was described in the South African Year Book as the finest situation for an ideal suburb, with its sea frontage and gently sloping hills.

At that time the area was known as “The Estate” and was divided into the two distinct districts of “Riverside” and “Prospect Hall”, separated by the Bridgevale Valley. The only entrances to “The Estate” were at Blackburn Road (from North Coast Road) to “Prospect” and from the Queen’s Bridge Hotel to “Riverside”.

Various funding was obtained, and development started taking place including the opening of the Athlone Bridge, which became the gateway to the new suburb.

It was also at this time that The Riverside Hotel, which was situated on land called Gavi’s Farm, became known then as the Athlone Gardens Hotel. It was a popular venue as being outside of the then municipal area, liquor was obtainable at all hours at the Hotel, which became a favourite for visiting sailors.

According to a 1940s brochure singing the hotel’s praises, “it was set in 14 acres of park-like gardens, complete with a la carte restaurant, ballroom, outside dancing, mini golf and tearooms. The furnishings are tasteful and all rooms have private baths, telephones and radios. There is also a delightful veranda café where one can combine the drinking in of the magnificent views with the wines of the country,” added the brochure.

In 1998 the hotel was redeveloped as The Riverside Hotel and is still as popular as ever.