Victoria Street Indian Market 1910 - 1973
In 1860, it was decided to indent labourers from India. Between 1860 and 1911, a total of 152 184 indentured Indians emigrated to Natal .1 At the end of each five year period of indenture, many Indians were able to exceed the supply. Some sought a change of employment and offered their services as artisans, domestic servants, tailors and laundrymen. Others found employment in the ra i1 ways, dockyards, coa 1 mines and in the civil service. Others turned to fishing and gained a monopoly of this industry. Indians a 1 so leased or bought land for themselves and became suppliers of fruit and vegetables. Some went into commerce and opened shops.
There was hardly a part of the economy of Natal that was not dependent on (Indian labour. Brain (1985) states that the Natal Government Railways employed 8000 Indian indentured labourers. Some of the positions, these men occupied were pointsmen, overseers of labour gangs, signalmen and refreshment car attendants. In 1910, many were transferred to the South African Railways on maintainence and other duties. In the civil service, Indians served as interpreters at the various magistrate's courts and the Supreme Court, where they used their linguistic abilities in four or five languages. They also worked as postmen, compounders and sometimes as postmasters. In the urban areas,·they worked as policemen, clerks
and in various positions in the Durban and Pietermaritzburg Co·rporations.
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The Indians emp1oyed in the manufacturing and industrial sector, made a comfortable living as artisans and semi-skilled workers.3 By the 1870s, Indians were engaged in the fishing industry. There were about 187 fishermen,in 1886,who worked during the fishing season.between June and December. They owned twelve nets and fourteen boats, catching some thirty tons of fish. The Indian fishermen supplied fresh fish to Durban and Pietermaritzburg.4