Among the people who were influential in the nascent Port Elizabeth, was the Harries Clan. This blog recounts the life of the father and son who deserve greater recognition.
Main picture: Painting of Port Elizabeth from South End by Walford Arbouin Harries about 1851
Amongst the numerous fund-raising events held during WW2, the most impressive was the Liberty Cavalcade in July 1943. This 5-day fair, at which each of the Allied countries had a stand, was officially opened by General Jan Smuts.
Main picture: A Miles Master II prepares to give an acrobatic display at the Liberty Cavalcade
The surreal recent developments in Zimbabwe do not portend the long-awaited dawn of democracy. Rather it signals the transition from one-man rule to one-party rule. The role of the opposition parties in this charade is to provide legitimacy to the process of usurping power by Emmerson Mnangagwa. Perhaps the only heartening news of this “non-coup” is that the 37-year dictatorship by a senile despot is at an end and that Mugabe’s former secretary, now wife, is no longer the preferred and only candidate as future president.
Main picture: Zimbabwe unplugged referring to Grace’s attack on a model with an electrical extension cord
This sports oval, now host to many school sports days and track and cycle events, was originally a muddy vlei (wetland) known in the late 1800s as “Russell Road Dam”. It is right next to the land which belonged to the London Missionary Society, where bubonic plague broke out in 1902.
Main picture: The Westbourne Oval in 1914
In 1942, Port Elizabeth had some unwelcome aerial visitors. During the period 20-27th April, unidentified aircraft flew over South African ports, including Port Elizabeth. Fighters were scrambled but they never made any contact with the intruders. It was only after the war that researchers and historians found out more about these mysterious visitors.
Main picture: The Yokosuka E14Y “Glen” Scout Plane painted by Ron Belling
Just like the fact that the destruction of South End is an integral part of Port Elizabeth’s history so is the paint theft which culminated in the Defiance Campaign. How did such a minor issue transmogrify into a riot? It was the sense of displacement and discrimination that the Black population had endured from the time of their relocation from the inner-city locations such as Strangers’ Location in Russell Road and Gubb’s Location in Mill Park. Perhaps this was the defining moment when forever White domination in South Africa would be under siege.
Main picture: New Brighton Railway Station
Until fairly recently the concept of a gentlemen’s club was in vogue and all the rage. Businessmen felt the need for pleasant relaxation playing snooker and billiards after a day at the office. Only the finest whiskeys would slake their thirst. So as not to be distracted, the admission policies usually excluded females, blacks, Jews and the chattering classes. Even Bohemian types were probably excluded.
In 1866, Port Elizabeth joined the ranks of towns which catered for the needs of this select group of individuals.
Main picture: The original Port Elizabeth Club building circa 1880s
Perhaps younger members of society have always had a different view on how life should be led. It certainly was also apparent in the mid-1800s when they refused to become members of the long-established Port Elizabeth Club. Instead they ultimately formed their own Club; the St. George’s Club.
Main picture: St George’s Club in Western Road
These are the reminiscences of Denis Glendinning, one of the first pilots posted to 6 Squadron RAF based at 42 Air School, Port Elizabeth. Denis is well known in Port Elizabeth having served as a City Councillor. Apart from being a war story, it highlights the fundamental difference in the martial activities of the Allies and their German opponents whereby the SAAF placed its members in extreme danger in order to rescue the crew of a U-Boat after it had been sunk.
This depiction of a flight in atrocious weather encapsulates the pathos of the situation. This his personal story in Glendinning’s own words.
Main picture: Avro Anson over Cape Recife in November 1942
With its wide avenues, broad pavements, a cornucopia of trees and houses set back far from the road, Walmer was rightly known as the garden town when it was a separate municipality. Separated from its larger sibling by the Baakens River, it evoked a sense of genteel suburban living.
Main picture: Target Kloof