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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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Port Instructions Issued in 1844

It is not ostensibly a case of lack of funds nor was it a case of wilful neglect, but by the 1840s, despite Port Elizabeth’s harbour exceeding Cape Town for exports, it still operated directly from the beaches. The so-called landing beaches stretched along the beach from Jetty Street to the mouth of the Baakens River. 

The loading and unloading vessels at anchor in the Bay has been dealt with in a prior blog. Instead this article, deals with the management of the vessels in the Bay.

Main picture: Vessels at anchor in Algoa Bay

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Postal Service – Part 3

By the 1840s, the Postal Services had evolved into a largely efficient and regular service with its own offices and fulltime employees. With their clients’ expectations raised, customer service was a priority. In the newspapers, residents lambasted the Post Office for all lapses much to the Colonial Government’s chagrin. 

The next innovation for this essential service would be the introduction of stamps, an essential link in the chain to ensure that all revenue was correctly and comprehensively accounted for. 

Main picture: The second dedicated Post Office building is on the right, opposite the Town Hall and next to the original Phoenix Hotel

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Postal Service – Part 2

The continuing tale of the establishment of the postal services in Port Elizabeth from its inception in Cape Town until its extension to Uitenhage and by implication to Algoa Bay before 1820.  

This part deals with the postal service from the appointment of the hamlet’s second Postmaster, George Ubsdell in 1828 until the resignation of the Postmistress, Mrs Biggar, the third Postmaster after William Dunn and George Ubsdell.

 Main picture: The first dedicated Post Office in Port Elizabeth in the building with the picket fence  Continue reading

Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Postal Service – Part 1

Before the advent of the internet, the telephone and the telegraph, the state of the art method of communication was the Postal Service. The speed of this service was a function of the speed of the ship, the horse and the cart. History is replete with examples of orders issued being overtaken by events. Take the example of commands from England. They could take five months to reach the Cape. 

Main picture: A Post Cart crossing the drift at the bottom of Van Staden’s Pass

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