The Follies of Youth in Port Elizabeth

Blaine's Yamaha

There can be little doubt that Port Elizabeth offers some superb opportunities for the ill-advised youths in Port Elizabeth to partake in speed related challenges. Needless to say, my brother Blaine has finally revealed some incidents in his ill-spent youth in which he might have met his maker long before his allotted three score and ten years. 

Main picture: Blaine’s Yamaha which was the crux of Blaine’s follies

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Another Ruddy Job in an Era of Loyalty to one’s Employer


Amongst the many traits of the people half a century ago were loyalty, loyalty to one’s family and fealty to one’s employer. Because of this, one never got divorced however dysfunctional the marriage or toxic the employer. 

In my father’s case, it meant spending his whole working life for bosses that he disrespected and conditions under which he felt exploited. 

Spare a thought for one such employee, Harry Clifford McCleland, in this milieu. 

Main picture: Main Entrance to Yard of JJ Ruddy & Sons in Lindsay Road

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WW2 Military Record: Harry Clifford McCleland

Harry Clifford McCleland during WW2

Never once did my father ever discuss his involvement in WW2 let alone regale us with stories of the war. Today I bemoan the fact that he was not more open & forthright about his participation; any vignette, however mundane, would have provided an insight into what he had to endure, what was risible and what was hilarious. 

Despite the fact that he had contracted polio as a youngster, and hence was technically not eligible for military service, yet he duly and dutifully volunteered. 

Military duties comprise two categories: active service and non-active service. The latter encompasses experiences such as how they survived on a litre of water per day, the scorching heat or the cloying  oppressively, hot southerly khamsin winds. In my father’s case, being an artificer and a driver precluded him from direct contact with the enemy. Nevertheless, all of his other experiences could have provided a valuable peep into a lost world.

This blog is solely based upon his Military Record which Steve Groeneveld, a running friend, has been able to obtain from the military in Pretoria. 

Main picture: Harry Clifford McCleland in military attire

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The Reverend Francis McCleland – A Life of Service

St Mary's Church after being rebuilt in 1895

In order to celebrate the bicentennial of the arrival of the first McCleland to South Africa, I decided to compile a history of my ancestor. Fortunately, he was instrumental in the erection of the first church in Port Elizabeth, St Mary’s Church. In addition, his house at Number Seven Castle Hill was proclaimed a National Monument in 1965. This has provided a starting point in uncovering of the real person concealed behind the cassock.

Main picture: St Mary’s Church after being rebuilt in 1895

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George Dix-Peek: Port Elizabeth’s First Architect [1839-1901]

George Dix-Peek circa 1874 in colonial military attire

A lasting legacy has been left by George Dix-Peek in his adopted town of Port Elizabeth in the form of some well-known buildings. Ironically his grandson, Milton Dix-Peek, also had ambitions of becoming an architect but WW2 intruded in his studies. Sadly, after the war he did not resume his studies.

Main picture: George Dix-Peek circa 1874 in colonial military attire

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Kirkcudbright Document: Establishing the McCleland’s Right to Peerage

M'Cllelan Castle at Kirkcudbright

This document serves as a record of the basis upon which the McCleland’s peerage rights were obtained. From a purely historical aspect, this document serves thus as an important family document. Notwithstanding that fact but more as an interesting point of speculation is the matter of the vacant peerage. For some 200 years, it has been vacant with nobody making a claim to the title of Lord Kircudbright.

The full document with related annexures has been included in this blog for posterity.

Main picture: M’Clellan Castle at Kirkcudbright

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The Parsonage House at Number 7 Castle Hill Port Elizabeth

Lithograph by WJ Huggins of Port Elizabeth. Note the whaling activity in the foreground

This, the oldest extant house in Port Elizabeth, bears a specific significance in my life. The original owner of that house – the Reverend Francis McCleland – is my great great grandfather. In 1965 it was declared a National Monument. In order to restore the parsonage house from a house of ill-repute back to its former glory, all the McCleland clan in Port Elizabeth were requested to contribute financially to this process.

This blog chronicles how this parsonage came to be erected in Port Elizabeth together with its current status.

Main picture: This must be the earliest view of Number 7 Castle Hill. A lithograph by W.J. Huggins, showing whaling in Algoa Bay in 1832. The recently completed house of Francis McCleland stands alone at the top of Castle Hill, midway between Fort Frederick and the memorial pyramid to Lady Donkin, after whom the town of Port Elizabeth was named

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