Once a Court House and now a Museum it is the oldest public building in the central business district and was loop-holed during the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879. It bore witness to both the South African Wars and the Bhambatha Uprising. More recently it also served as a canteen and recruitment centre during the two World Wars and then later as a library before being converted into Durban’s biggest history museum boasting two floors of exhibition space depicting aspects of the region’s early history.
Visit the Old Court House Museum, just a stones throw from the City Hall, and stand in the building often visited by MK Gandhi who at the time was a young Durban lawyer experiencing the challenges of life under a colonial authority. Later explore at your leisure the “Durban Room” with its unique exhibits including a replica of an early sugar cane press, ‘Henry Francis Fynn’s’ Cottage, an early pharmacy and a haberdashery store. Make time to also wander around the costume room where you will be able to reflect on the fashion trends of Durban’s many cultures and marvel at intricate craftsmanship.
For those doing research or perhaps seeking a more in depth perspective of Durban’s history contact the enquiry section and view photographs and documents in the comfort of our study area.
Before leaving stop at the museum’s Greenacre Museum shop and buy a postcard, or something else unique to Durban’s history and heritage. Enquiries also on line.
How to find the Old Court House Museum:
From the beach front hotels drive up Smith Street towards City Hall. A large glass domed office building (The Embassy building) on your left is at the corner of Aliwal and Smith. Turn right into Aliwal. On your immediate left is the Old Court House Museum with the City Hall behind.
For those traveling on the Albert Luthuli Freeway from the Airport located about 20 km south of the city take the Victoria Embankment (Margaret Mncadi Avenue) ‘glide off’ from the freeway. After passing under the freeway you will approach the harbour. Continue along this road sweeping passing flats on your left and the yacht mole on your right. After about 1,5km you will come to the Aliwal Street intersection.
Turn left at the traffic lights into Aliwal Street and drive up a slight incline. Keep in the middle lane and prepare to move to your left. After crossing the first set of traffic lights you come to at the intersection of Aliwal and Smith Streets. The Methodist Church and the Embassy building are on your right and the Old Court House Museum is on your left.
Nearest People Mover bus stop: The Playhouse
08:30 to 16:00 Monday to Saturday
11:00 to 16:00 Sundays and Public Holidays
Closed: Good Friday and Christmas Day
Entrance Fee: Free
No parking is available on site, but parking garages are located close by and street parking is generally available within walking distance from the museum. Demarcated Taxi and Bus parking is available in front of the museum.
- Lecture Room – suitable for talks and small workshops (maximum 40 people)
- Male and Female Toilets – Toilets equipped with baby changing stations
- Nearest refreshments and shops – Restaurants: Royal Hotel, Albany Hotel etc. Shops: Within easy walking distance in the central business district.
- Other: Located very close to other central museums, libraries, the Playhouse theatre and the City Hall.