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Vasco da Gama Memorial Clock
Durban, KwaZulu-Natal



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29°51'41.21" S 31°01'46.39" E Alt: 2m

The Vasco da Gama memorial clock previously located in Point Rd (now Mahatma Gandhi), was relocated to Margaret Mncadi Avenue. It was a gift from the people of Portugal and was erected in 1897 to mark the 400th anniversary of the famous Portuguese explorer’s voyage to India, during which he discovered a large bay on the south eastern coast of Africa on Christmas Eve 1497, and which he named Natal being the Portuguese word for Christmas. The area is today the province of KwaZulu-Natal and home to the important port city of Durban.

The Vasco da Gama memorial clock was manufactured by Walter Macfarlane & Co’s Saracen Foundry in Glasgow, Scotland, in cast iron to a design selected from their catalogue, and is one of only three surviving examples in the world today.

(Boating South Africa, accessed 2023 01 25)

Regrettably, despite being a popular landmark and tourist attraction, the structure had fallen into disrepair. Recognising the significance of this historic structure and, in view of the importance of our maritime history and the value of the maritime industry to the city of Durban, the Royal Natal Yacht Club, initiated consultations with the Ethekwini Municipality and Amafa aKwaZulu-Natali for the restoration and temporary relocation of the structure. The Royal Natal Yacht Club has a longstanding maritime history as the oldest sports club of any kind in Africa and the oldest yacht club in the Southern Hemisphere.

After two years of consultations, permission has finally been granted for the Royal Natal Yacht Club to begin the preservation project in line with the Club’s commitment to the growth and development of the Ethekwini Municipality and the provincial government of KwaZulu-Natal’s Integrated Maritime Strategy. Once restored to its former glory, the clock will be temporarily located on the Club’s Ndongeni Lawns for the appreciation, admiration and enjoyment of all the citizens of Ethekwini as well as tourists and visitors.

(Vasco da Gama Clock Restoration Project, accessed 2023 01 27)

Our map shows the position where the memorial clock stood on the Victoria Embankment, Margaret Mncadi Avenue.

Writings about this entry

Johnson Barker, Brian, Maclay, George & Steyn, Alfie (Eds). 1987. Off the Beaten Track : Selected Day Drives in Southern Africa. Cape Town: AA The Motorist Publications (Pty). pg 151 ill