As we contemplate The Ridge magazine publishing its final issue, let’s look back and explore some of the changes that have swept through our picturesque coastal town since the magazine’s launch in 2004, writes Gareth Bailey.
I have personal memories from the 80s of the black-and-white-tiled Mike’s Kitchen, the bird park, and a skateboarding half-pipe in the area between where Beacon Rock (Mini) and the Radisson Blu Hotel are located today.
Although it now feels like an eternal feature, Gateway Theatre of Shopping only opened its doors in 2001, and when The Ridge mag launched in 2004, nothing but lush green sugar cane swaying in the coastal breeze occupied the land in front of Gateway spanning from uMhlanga Rocks Drive down to the M4 in the east with uMhlanga Manors to the north and the M41 to the south.
Around Gateway, there existed only a smattering of commercial buildings including the Crescent Shopping Centre. There were no residential developments except for Horizon Views which still overlooks the traffic circle adjacent to the Sharks Board.
While the area between Gateway and the N2 had been mostly cleared for development, the land between Gateway and Prestondale and everything west of the N2 was still under sugar cane too.
Around this time, the uMhlanga Rocks Hotel – a well-known landmark in the area – was demolished to make way for The Pearls development. The Oysters complex (Pearls, Quays, Rock and Schelles) was developed from 2004, and Grace Family Church commenced construction in 2005. The renovations on the old Oyster Box Hotel were completed in 2009, which was the same year that construction commenced at Beacon Rock and Ridgeside Office Park (Richefond Circle). Although a little north of uMhlanga, the King Shaka International Airport opened its runway in 2010 catalysing demand for our coastal property market.
In 2011, One on Herrwood commenced construction, and the Oceans development – featuring the 5-star Radisson Blu Hotel – commenced construction in 2016 on the old Post Office and uMhlanga Country Club site. Many other residential and commercial buildings like uMhlanga Arch (2017) have since sprouted up mainly around the greenfield areas of Gateway and the uMhlanga Ridge and Ridgeside precincts.
Although it predates our period, it would be amiss not to mention and pay tribute to the most iconic of uMhlanga’s structures which was built in 1954 and constructed to replace the original version from 1869 – the uMhlanga lighthouse!
The developments since the turn of the century have seen uMhlanga transform from a quaint coastal town into the modern, bustling epicentre of Durban’s business and leisure activities that it is today. Despite the growth and modernisation, uMhlanga has, in many ways, managed to retain its village ethos with its charming local shops, family-run businesses, restaurants and cosy cafes.
Despite some recent municipality challenges, uMhlanga has upheld its cherished coastal traditions over the years. Our beachfront still witnesses local families and inlanders gathering for laughter-filled days of sandcastle building and soaking up the sun. If you’ve spent some time walking past Granny’s Pool on a still, sunny morning, the sounds of children’s laughter mingled with the crashing waves create a nostalgic atmosphere that transcends time.
As with any nostalgic journey, it’s important to remember that uMhlanga’s charm lies in its ability to blend the past with the present. By embracing its rich history while embracing progress, uMhlanga will continue to capture hearts and create new memories for generations to come.
We bid farewell to The Ridge magazine and honour the wonderful team that has driven its quality local content for the last 19 years.