Port Elizabeth of Yore: Town Officials and Residents in the 1840s

By virtue of the town still being so small twenty-three years after its establishment, it was still possible to print a comprehensive list of all its officials and residents. The List of Town Officials was published in 1843 whereas that of all Town Residents was published in 1849. 

What do they reveal about the character and the occupations of these people? 

Main picture: Port Elizabeth in 1840 with its short-lived first jetty

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Human Dimension of the 1908 Flood

Port Elizabeth was renowned for its severe floods having experienced periodic flooding with the most notable being in 1867 and  1897. Previous river floods had caused little damage in the valley and around the mouth of the Baaken’s Valley as there were no buildings on the flood plain. But this time it was different. In the period subsequent to the previous floods, the lagoon had been systematically reclaimed and buildings had been injudiciously built on the flood plains. This was to exacerbate the effect of the flood waters.

The moniker for this catastrophe would forever be The Great Flood.

Main picture: Debris accumulated against the main bridge across the Baaken’s River forcing the water down Commerce Road to the Harbour Board building

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The Cussedness of Inanimate Objects: The Case of a Missing TV Remote

What a strange adage. More like the title of a PhD thesis in Philosophy than a high-falutin term for the seemingly intentional behaviours or happenings with non-sentient objects.

To pass time whilst jogging, runners often engage in inane conversations about the most frivolous topics. It was one such runner, Elbert Loubser, who introduced me to this concept.

Main picture: The remote that flumoxed the Loubser household

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Economics and Forecasting the Future

Over the years, I have read plenty of articles on economists forecasting the future but what troubles me is why they are so abysmal at getting them correct

Take the crash of 2008. Why didn’t they predict it years before based upon the facts on hand viz the granting of loans based upon dubious or non-existent security? Subsequently why didn’t they predict the rapid recovery – one can even call it an over-exuberant recovery.

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Through the Eyes of the Poulter Family

The Poulter Family of Port Elizabeth might not have been prominent socially or in municipal affairs yet through the prism of this family, one is able to view life of the Port Elizabeth of Yore. All of this information has been kindly supplied by Dale Poulter of the current generation of Poulters.

Main pictures: Louis John Poulter as a member of the Southern Rifles

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Fascist Movements and Anti-Semitism

The seeds of the European Fascist movements of the 1930s were cast far and wide. In South Africa they fell on fertile ground. The burgeoning white nationalist movement harboured elements of these virile, virulent shoots in the form of the Ossewa Brandwag and the S.A. Greyshirts. As the ominous spectre of the Nazi contagion spread its tentacles into South Africa’s political discourse, South Africa’s versions of these thuggish movements arose in manifold forms, one manifestation being Robbie Leibrandt, who attempted to assassinate Prime Minister, Jan Smuts.

Main picture: The Centenary of the Great Trek commemorated by ox-wagons going through the city

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Reclamation at the Harbour

The first major extension to the harbour after the construction of the Charl Malan Quay was reclamation of land on the seaward side of the Charl Malan Quay in 1938. The company which did the dredging, first built a new sea wall parallel to the old one at the distance required for the extra width that had been planned and then a dredger pumped sand from the sea bed into this space to build up a base for the new section.

Main picture: Reclamation at Victoria Quay in 1938

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Port of Elizabeth: Royal Visit of 1947

Unlike more recent Royal visits, the visit by the Royal Family to South Africa in 1947 was a full marathon and not a 100-metre dash. It was a two-month swirl of introductions, photographs, handshakes, toasts and speeches. Even the vivacious Princess Elizabeth, the heir apparent, was afforded the opportunity to make a speech, her first. The two-month long sojourn to a land on the cusp of fundamental change, would include two days, the 26th & the 27th February 1947, to make the acquaintance of the peoples of arguably the most English city in South Africa, Port Elizabeth.

Main picture:
Brigadier Arthur Coy with the Mayor of PE, Mr Neave, inspecting the Ex Servicemen with the King and Queen at Crusaders ground, St. George’s Park in February 1947. The princesses Elizabeth and Margaret were in attendance. There was a garden party in Victoria Park afterwards.

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YENTA breathlessly chasing mills

Passionata, my enthralment with mills.   I was terribly disappointed last year when I was unable to join the Border Historical Society, in East London as an invited speaker, on the subject of my passion, ‘mills’. 

‘Raised’ in my formative years, in the NE Transvaal, by my beloved grandfather, {and orphan, escapee from Estonia 1917} he indulged my interest, as a true Rabbi  by searching for mills while was away at boarding school. On my return, there would be an adventure to a farm in the district, to visit, that had a mill.

Main picture: Bradshaw’s Mill

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Eskom: What really Happened?

Numerous reasons have been trotted out over the years by the powers-that-be as to the exact cause of load shedding. Amongst them were the unbelievable such as the coal being wet to the non-sensible excuse in which Apartheid was blamed. In the latter case, the logic was that Blacks were now permitted to use electricity, thus creating additional demand. Finally, last week, the real underlying cause of the shortage of electricity was eventually revealed. Why have these reasons been hidden from the public’s purview for so long?

Main picture: Cartoon encapsulating two of South Africa’s ogres – corruption and load-shedding

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