Welcome to
The Turner Group

Our History

It started in 1896

In 1896 a young Scotsman, David Turner, established himself as a Customs Clearing Agent at the newly established Port of Durban. It was a time when sailing ships brought the cargo which was then loaded onto ox wagons for the long journey north as towns and settlements began to grow in South Africa’s interior.

The business, which was originally known as Turner & Co (Natal) (Pty) Ltd, grew steadily as did the Port. Today the city of Durban has the busiest Port on the African continent and David Turner’s modest business continues as The Turner Group.

The Turner Group Companies operate on a national basis with branches and offices in several centres in South Africa, and on an international basis through partnerships, agents, and associates.

The Turner Group’s separate operational Companies operate in the Shipping, Forwarding and Freight industries, as well as Travel, Conferencing, Skills Development, and Hospitality.

These include:

Training AcademyFreight Management & LogisticsTrade FinanceWarehousingCorporate and Leisure TravelDestination ManagementConference & Event ManagementProfessional Secretariat Services

Founding Fathers

The men who shaped our future

David Turner

1896 - 1909
The founder of the Company whose clearing and forwarding business, Turner & Co – Natal (Pty) Ltd has grown into The Turner Group.

Robert Paton

1896 - 1913
He was a partner and director of Turner & Co – Natal (Pty) Ltd who immigrated to Australia in rather dubious circumstances.

John Cochrane - Murray

1909 - 1952
As David Turner’s business partner, it was left to him to run the business when Turner was lost at sea. He ran the company for the first half of the 20th Century.

Ian Cochrane - Murray

1946 - 1999
Taking over the business from his grandfather at the end of the Second World War he steered the Company into the modern era.

Group Companies

A vast array of professional service providers

Turners Shipping is one of South Africa's top Local and International Freight Management and Logistics Companies.

A short description of the service and how the visitor will benefit fromTurners Forwarding acts as a specialised Customs Clearing and Global Freight Forwarding organisation. it.

Turners Trade Finance offers International Trade Finance to selected Clientele.

Turners Warehouse provide for both bonded and general storage and handling facilities throughout South Africa.

Turners Conferences is a leading Professional Conference and Event Management Company in South Africa.

Turners Secretariat provides a full house secretariat function for Professional Associations and Societies.

The Turners DMC offers a comprehensive range of services to assist with the destination and accommodation management for events large and small.

Turners Training Academy was established to maximise personal motivation and operational skills.

XL Turners Travel is one of South Africa's most recognised Travel Management Companies.

The Waratah

Having established a successful business in South Africa, David Turner decided it was time for his family to visit their ancestral home and with his wife and five children, they boarded the ill-fated passenger liner, the Waratah, bound for London.

The Waratah was on the return leg of its maiden voyage which took it from England to Australia where it called on Adelaide, Melbourne, and Sydney before sailing to South Africa. On the evening of 26 July 1909, the newly built ship left Durban and was expected to reach Cape Town on July 29, but it never arrived.

A search was mounted but no trace of the ship nor its 211 passengers and crew were ever found. The disappearance of the Waratah remains one of the mysteries of South Africa’s maritime history.

There were reported sightings of the Waratah making its way along the Transkei’s aptly named Wild Coast, and there were also reports of bad weather and rolling waves at the time of the ship’s disappearance.

John Cochrane-Murray, David Turner’s business partner took over the running of the business deciding to keep the Turner name as a mark of respect for the friend he had lost. The Company has remained in the family to the current day.

Did you know?

Most will remember Ian Cochrane-Murray as the past Chairman of The Turner Group, but few will know that he also served as the Belgium Consul in Natal for fifteen years and received a knighthood for his services to Belgium and the local Belgian community.

The medal represents the Belgian Knighthood of the Order of the Crown which was presented to Ian Cochrane-Murray in October 1993 by King Baudouin of Belgium.

Ian Cochrane-Murray was chairman of The Turner Group from 1946 to 1999, when he retired, passing the reigns of the business to his son, and current CEO of The Turner Group, Conrad.

Models of the ill-fated Waratah have pride of place in the offices of Turners Shipping in Durban, Johannesburg, and Cape Town.