St Aidan’s Mission Clinic

Dr Lancelot Parker Booth was a surgeon who trained in Scotland, and then joined the Natal Indian Immigration Department as a district surgeon. Following religious training he was appointed as a cleric and later became Anglican Diocesan Superintendent of Indian Missions in Natal. Rev Dr Booth lived at number 49 Cross Street in a large, iron-roofed bungalow with outbuildings, which were surrounded by a rusty corrugated iron fence. He was appalled at the conditions of hardship that prevailed among parts of the Indian community in Durban. Booth was particularly concerned about the levels of poverty, illiteracy, the low standard of living and lack of medical facilities available to formerly indentured workers, and acted on those concerns. The first medical dispensary clinic for impoverished Indians, which later became St Aidan’s mission hospital, was founded in the house that stood on this site in 1883. From the simple clinic thousands of the underprivileged were treated as out-patients. This service was the only one of its kind for the Indian poor of the city, and Mahatma Gandhi assisted in the dispensary clinic on a voluntary basis. St Aidan’s Mission Hospital was opened across the street in 1897 with financial assistance from the Natal Indian Congress and Parsee Rustomjee. Rev Dr Booth operated St Aidan’s mission clinic on this site until he departed from Durban in 1906, when the work he pioneered here was taken up by others. St Aidan’s later moved to a new site at 33 Centenary Road (renamed M.L. Sultan Road).

Location

Address: 49 Cross St
GPS Points: -29.85286, 31.02419
Site Contact Details: Steven Kotze
Durban Local History Museums
steven.kotze@durban.gov.za
031 311 2239

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