KwaZulu Natal Tourist AttractionsOld Durban Railway Station
Where? 160 Monty Naicker Road, Durban Central, Durban, KwaZulu Natal
In Durban Central, the heart of the bustling conurbation of KwaZulu-Natal, is a real taste of history. The Old Durban Railway Station, as well as the Durban City Hall and Old Post Office, exude the classically dramatic neo-Baroque style of yesteryear, and tell a fascinating tale of Durban’s history and heritage.
The Old Durban Railway Station was built in 1892 and, therefore, showcases the gorgeous Victorian look and feel of the time. Its elegance is timeless and continues to give the building and its surrounds an undeniable charm. This sizeable building was built using dramatic red bricks, standing tall and bold on the street corner. The roof plans were accidentally switched by the architects, and this railway station got the roof design that was meant for the Toronto Railway Station in Canada, and vice versa.
The railway station was significant for a number of reasons. Not only did it play a key role in the establishment of a city and its various industries, but it also facilitated the growth and development of the community; a community that, today, represents the diversity of modern South Africa. Interestingly, it was also along this railway that Mahatma Ghandi was forcibly removed from the train for refusing to move from the ‘whites only’ cart. The plaque on the wall at the station reads, “Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi took the first step in his struggle against all forms of discrimination and oppression when he boarded a train at the Durban station on 7th June 1893.
His forcible removal from the train at Pietermaritzburg on grounds racial prejudice had a profound influence on Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of life and on his future. He himself said that the dedication of his life to the cause of human justice and equality began from that experience. ‘My active non-violence’ he said, started from that date.”
The Old Durban Railway Station is now home to the Tourist Junction, which is the main tourism centre for the city. There are a number of maps of South Africa, and the African continent, as well as plenty of information regarding the history, culture and natural wealth of the land, and all things travel and tourism. Knowledgeable guides and consultants are happy to give visitors guidance and advice. There are also plenty of brochures and flyers that can be taken away as guides and keepsakes, helping you to learn more and discover new places to see and things to do.
The Old Durban Railway Station is also home to various curio shops at which to buy memories and gifts for those back home, and an African Art Centre, where local arts and crafts are celebrated and sold to the public.
Restaurants in the immediate vicinity of the Railway Station are known for their ethnic Indian foods and good prices. It should be noted that, like any major city around the world, visitors need to be watchful when walking around Durban Central. Keep valuables safe and do not allow others to have access to your cameras or luggage.