Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Baakens from Pristine Lagoon to Commercial Area

From a pristine lagoon in 1820 to a commercial area in forty years, is how long it took to destroy this once virgin wilderness. Unlike the Settlers, the previous inhabitants of this area, the Khoisan, without any discernible talent at building permanent structures, left no detectable evidence of their presence in the area over eons.

As my blog entitled “Port Elizabeth of Yore: What Happened to the Baakens Lagoon? deals with the why and how the lagoon was reclaimed, instead this blog will focus on the various attempts at bridging this normally placid waterway and the development of commerce and industries within the restricted confines of the valley floor.

Main picture: The bridge across the Baakens in 1866 before the flood showing the lagoon

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Market

Now considered an anachronism, but in the 19th century, the market was a millennia old method of connecting buyers and seller without the intermediation of shops. It occupied a pivotal place in the towns of yore, culturally and economically, normally being located at the centre of the town. So it was in the case of Port Elizabeth. 

Main picture: Market Square with bullock carts

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Lost Artefacts of Port Elizabeth: The Bathing House at Humewood Beach

Tempis fugit – Time flies. I am unsure whether one would refer to the 50th anniversary of this building’s demolition as its golden anniversary, but I can vividly recall the floods of 1968 and this building even though I never once used the facilities. 

Probably one of the only elegant buildings constructed in Humewood during the turn of the century, it evinced an era of formality in beach attire more akin for modern day formal attire.

Main picture: Humewood Bathing House in the background

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Trump: Is his Incompetence an Open Secret?

In today’s edition of the American Journal, The Atlantic, James Fallows’ article “It’s Been an Open Secret All Along” raises the preternatural possibility that Trump was voted in as President in spite of it being an open secret that Trump was not only unqualified to perform the job but also rank incompetent. 

What warning indicators were blinking ominously and why do intelligent commentators ignore those signals?

 Main picture: Donald Trump with former Chief Strategist Steve Bannon in more amicable times

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Trump: What his speech tells one about him

In many ways, Donald Trump has the dubious distinction of being the alter ego of Il Duce, Benito Mussolini. Typifying his approach is to declare that he is the greatest, the smartest and the best at everything. Such as bombastic, narcissistic, bragging and bullying demeanour is a divisive technique for a leader. At best he was suppress dissent but will never win an argument through cogent reasoning. 

Much more troubling is what his speech indicates about his neurological condition with its emotional equivalent of a five-year-old.

 Main picture: A smirking Donald Trump

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Postal Service – Part 4

After much confusion and loss of mail, the Post Office had been relocated to the double storey house of the Harbour Engineer, Mr. Woodifield, adjacent to the Phoenix Hotel in Market Square. 

The first innovation, the use of prepaid stamps, had by now been accepted then the second radical change was proposed.

Main picture: Corner of Main & Jetty Street in 1876.  Originally the London and SA Bank occupied this site and then it was taken over by the Post Office. Later the then Union Castle Mail Steamship Company took it over. The little building two buildings on the left was the original building of T. Birch and Co.

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Lost Artefacts of Port Elizabeth: The Cleghorn’s Building

Among the pantheon of buildings arranged around the Town Hall during the “classical” period of the town, was the Cleghorn’s Building. It is important not to forget that this building had a much more illustrious past as it initially served as the Herald’s offices after it relocated here from Titterton Lane just off Main Street.

Main picture: The original building at the foot of White’s Road, then occupied by the Eastern Province Herald

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The First Schools

The first order of business when the Settlers landed in Algoa Bay was to establish some sort of permanent roof over their heads. As such, schooling was not a priority. Nonetheless the residents desire for schooling for their children could not be trifled with. To this end, a meeting of the inhabitants was arranged for Friday 20th February 1824 at the Red Lion Tavern which was by then being used as the Custom’s House and as Public Offices. 

Main picture: Algoa House serving as Mrs. Harriet Joanna Eedes’ School for Young Ladies

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