The discovery of the area that became Durban harbour can be attributed to a Lieutenant King, who, while commanding the vessel Salisbury in 1823, was forced to seek shelter off what is now Durban. Unable to cross the sandbar that separated land and sea, he anchored off the bay and watched as the accompanying ship, the Julia, sailed over the sandbar and surveyed the area. Recognising the importance of the bay, King returned to Britain in an effort to garner support for a settlement. Although not successful, the area did eventually attract settlers and in 1835, at a meeting attended by all fifteen residents, the town was proclaimed.
Development in the area was slow and 12 years after the proclamation residents still inhabited mud-and-wattle houses situated in the surrounding bush. However, between 1850 and 1854, several thousand settlers arrived, including George Cato who laid out the town with three main streets, wide enough for a wagon and 16 oxen.
One of the earliest settlers, Captain Allen Francis Gardiner founded a small church in the hills above Durban and called it Berea. The area quickly became popular with the town’s elite residents and likewise, neighbouring Musgrave was also regarded as the ‘right’ address and still boasts a number of listed buildings.
Ideally situated close to the city centre, Musgrave is a shopper’s paradise and is home to the prestigious Musgrave Centre. This shopping and entertainment emporium includes major retailers, boutiques, restaurants and cinemas. The Durban Botanical Gardens and Mitchell Park are a stone’s throw away, offering a serene refuge from the stresses of city life.
Residential property sales have fared fairly well amidst the economic slowdown and owning a property in Musgrave has proved to be pretty sound investment. According to statistics recently released by Lightstone, there have been a total of 301 transfers in the area in the last 12 months.The statistics further reveal that there are a number of upmarket homes in Musgrave, and the highest price paid for a property in the area was R3.3-million. The area offers a good mix of property across all price categories and property choices seem to cater to a wide range of tastes and needs.
The average price paid for a freehold property was R1 380-million and the sectional title average came in at a more affordable R842 000. Price averages have declined somewhat since 2008, when the average price paid for freehold property came in at just over R1.5-million.
As with many of the older suburbs in and around the Durban metropolitan area, Musgrave has seen a fair amount of development and re-zoning in recent years. Many of the old stately homes have been converted into upmarket office suites, adding further value to the area and giving this beautiful old tree-lined suburb a bit of a face-lift while still managing to retain some of the charm and elegance of yesteryear.