One was seen around the moon, on the night of 11th April of the year 1856. This is a halo, but there is a lack of scientific evidence, to say that this is a portent of bad storms. The Scots and the Zulus, however, disagree, saying it indicates big or little storms and tragedy.
On Sunday 13th, in the afternoon, the rain came down, and it did not cease, till Tuesday afternoon.
 On the night, Monday 14th at a time of the neap tide, people in Durban, began to get worried that the river might burst its’ banks. In April 1848, the uMngeni had done so and flowed into Durban Bay.
The river began to flood Durban at about 4.am on Tuesday 15th. It went over the sand flats, on which the town was built and into the Bay at the Point watercourse. It probably went in at other creeks too.  It rose 8 ½ metres above average. Many people were marooned. Houses and goods were washed away.
The mayor of Durban, George Cato, had a schooner. It was carried off the stocks in the Bay.
A hippo was also seen by the manager of the Springfield Sugar Works, being pushed along. It managed to escape into the bush, and was heard after wards, having raucous parties with the others, that had also managed to escape.
After the storm, the river was found to have forced a passage through the sand dunes into the sea, eight km, and north of the Bay. It now formed a tidal estuary. Also, in 1855, the river width was measured at George’s Drift, being 63.5m. In 1856, after the storm, the channel was now 215 m. The water was also noted, as being blue.
In 1859, Captain Vetch, outlined a proposal, for the uMngeni to be taken into the Bay, via a channel. By 1859, the mouth of the river was already silting up, so there was considerable worry, again!
Taken from: Natalia 14 (1984)
I thought that everyone might be interested, in the following comment; that this signifies the necessary changing mood of a river; be it flood or low/high tide.
“Between the Umgeni Bridge and the Umgeni Sugar-Mills the river flows sleepily on one side, and on the other the hillside skirts the winding road, now breaking off into little woody vallies, and now rising up in ferny walls of rock.” John Robinson, 1870.  
The river should have the ability to be in flood – for its health reasons – and the ability to be calm – development and dams have changed the natural moods of the river.
Can anyone tell us where St George’s Drift was?
Rosemary Harrison


Popular Posts