Old Aerodrome Visit (NMR) 2015
Sunday morning, 15th February 2015
Visit to NMR Headquarters, on the site of Durban’s first aerodrome, hosted by Captain Nigel Lewis-Walker
Durban’s first aerodrome, Durban Air Station, also known as Stamford Hill, dates from 1936. In plan the building has the form of swept back aeroplane wings, with a central two-storey control tower, designed in International Style with Art Deco references. Design was by the City Architecture office, under W Murray Jones. Now used as a regimental headquarters the building stands as a low scale counterpoint to the 2010 Moses Mabhida Football Stadium.
A Gammage - Docomomo International KZNIA Heritage Committee, City Architecture - 2013
B T Kearney - A Revised Listing of Important Places and Buildings in Durban - 1984
D Radford - A Guide to the Architecture of Durban and Pietermaritzburg - 2002
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The original Stamford Hill Aerodrome and Tower in Durban, next door to the Country Club, is now the Natal Mounted Rifles (NMR) headquarters, this regiment having been founded in 1854. The NMR has served South Africa through every campaign since then. In those days there were no runways, just a field or circle and you could land in any direction according to the wind direction. This obviously took a lot more space and over the years runways and cross-runways were developed instead. This airfield no longer exists and the present M4 highway runs approximately mid-way through the old airfield.
When South African Airways started flying DC-4s the main airport was moved from Stamford Hill to the site of the Louis Botha Airport south of Durban and this remained as Durban’s international airport until the opening of King Shaka Airport in 2010 in time for the 2010 World Cup Football event in South Africa.
The present Virginia Airport for lighter aircraft lies a few kilometres to the north of the old Stamford Hill aerodrome and was opened in 1959 as a more suitable facility for these aircraft, and from then on the air traffic in Durban was effectively split between the two airports.
Welcome by Helen Labuschagne
Entrance to the Durban Air Station from the parking area
Control tower. Present officers' mess below it, and museum at ground level
Captain Nigel Lewis-Walker talks about the history of the Natal Mounted Rifles, and the old aerodrome
Museum adjoining the officers' mess
Old aerodrome - a big square from the coast road to the railway, Argyle Road to Walter Gilbert Road
Imagine arriving in "Durban" like this!
Refreshments at the officers' mess