Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Old Gamtoos River Bridge

Like all river crossings before the advent of pontoons and later bridges, the travellers could only cross the river at locations sufficiently far inland so as not to be affected by tidal inflows while still being as close to the coast as possible. Furthermore both of the ingress and egress points had to be characterised by gentle slopes. 

This blog covers the evolution of the crossing of the Gamtoos River from pontoon to a single lane bridge. 

Main picture: Ferry across the Gamtoos River

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Mackay Bridge over the Sunday’s River

The Sundays River is the Eastern boundary of the Nelson Mandela Bay metropolitan area and is situated right next to the Addo Elephant National Park’s southern boundary. The Khoisan people originally named this river Nukakamma (Grassy Water) because the river’s banks are always green and grassy despite the arid terrain that it runs through. It is said to be the fastest flowing river in the country. 

For many years, travellers to Grahamstown had to cross the river using a punt. Ultimately the need for a bridge was acknowledged. 

Main picture: The Mackay Bridge

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Beach Hotel

The opening up of the shore south of South End to development in the late 1890s, ultimately culminated in the building of holiday hotels along the beach front. The first of these was named the Beach or the Humewood Beach Hotel. In doing so, confusion has subsequently reigned amongst historians. 

Confounding the issue, was the building of separate Beach and Humewood Hotels after the original Humewood Beach Hotel was destroyed by fire in December 1915. 

Main picture: The second hotel to bear the name of the Beach Hotel

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Lesoba Hike June 2018: A Series of Firsts for the Quo Vadis Hiking Club

From the swansong of Arnold Paikin to the debut swan dive of Clive Cameron, it was a weekend of high drama as norms, precedents and etiquette were summarily ignored and cast aside. It was an object lesson of how to let one’s hair down and to hell with precedent and regulations. The only redeeming feature was that everybody enjoyed themselves without killing themselves in the process.

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A Third World Solution to Refuse Recycling

The phenomenon of recycling is a First World concept yet the whole world needs to embrace it. If recycling is to be adopted by Third World countries as well, solutions will have to be found to overcome its two most contentious issues: cost and work opportunities. 

In line with best practice, the Joburg Metro has announced its intention to role out recycling in the Metro as from 1st July 2018. As might have been predicted, like all change, there are protagonists and naysayers. In any environment of costs constraints conflated with the urgent requirement to create jobs, how can a third world city meet both requirements simultaneously. 

I believe that they can and will illustrate how it is possible. 

Main picture: Is this what will happen? Separate bins per category of recyclable?

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Van Stadens River Mouth & Estuary

Located half way between Port Elizabeth and Jeffreys Bay, the Van Stadens River mouth has always been a place where the denizens of Port Elizabeth could relax away from the hurly-burly and bustle of Port Elizabeth. Initially the holiday makers would have to bring everything with them – from the pots and pans to the canvas roof over their heads – on their carts and wagons. 

Today, it sports rondawels, chalets and facilities to cater for all one’s needs. But what is its attraction is its beauty and tranquillity with miles of sand dunes in both directions

Main picture: Van Stadens Mouth from Cadles in 1870 by Sarah Holland, the earliest drawing of Van Stadens

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Erica Girl’s School – The Early Years

The establishment of the Erica School is a pointed example of what is possible when one person has the passion and determination to achieve their goal. In the case of the Erica School, it was a young woman of 26 who exuded this zeal and an almost fanatical determination, despite patriarchy being the dominant social norm. 

The name of this trailblazer was Mary Anne van Wyk. The reasons for this intensity and forbearance is not particularly clear; suffice to say that she displayed an apparent timidity which concealed “a brave independence and an inflexible adherence to duty.” 

Main picture: Erica School building

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Telegraph and Telephones

With the advent of these two innovations, the speed of communication surged by leaps and bounds. The first to make its mark was the telegraph in 1861 which enabled long distance communication for the first time albeit in written form. However, it was only in 1882 that the telephone was introduced to the residents of Port Elizabeth.

Main picture: First telephone exchange switchboard in Port Elizabeth, 1882

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