Now considered an anachronism, but in the 19th century, the market was a millennia old method of connecting buyers and seller without the intermediation of shops. It occupied a pivotal place in the towns of yore, culturally and economically, normally being located at the centre of the town. So it was in the case of Port Elizabeth.
Main picture: Market Square with bullock carts
Tempis fugit – Time flies. I am unsure whether one would refer to the 50th anniversary of this building’s demolition as its golden anniversary, but I can vividly recall the floods of 1968 and this building even though I never once used the facilities.
Probably one of the only elegant buildings constructed in Humewood during the turn of the century, it evinced an era of formality in beach attire more akin for modern day formal attire.
Main picture: Humewood Bathing House in the background
The building located on the corner of Main and Jetty Streets, once formed a prominent part not only of the history of Port Elizabeth, but also the elegance of Market Square.
In 1978, was demolished to make way for a bus station.
Main picture: Market Square in 1882
After much confusion and loss of mail, the Post Office had been relocated to the double storey house of the Harbour Engineer, Mr. Woodifield, adjacent to the Phoenix Hotel in Market Square.
The first innovation, the use of prepaid stamps, had by now been accepted then the second radical change was proposed.
Main picture: Corner of Main & Jetty Street in 1876. Originally the London and SA Bank occupied this site and then it was taken over by the Post Office. Later the then Union Castle Mail Steamship Company took it over. The little building two buildings on the left was the original building of T. Birch and Co.
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
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
If you were able to put the genie back in the bottle, what changes to the historic Port Elizabeth should not have been made or what should have been done differently.
Main picture: St Mary’s Church’s frontage in Main Street with the elegant building behind hidden from view by the UBS Building
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
The 1848 edition of the Eastern Province Directory and Almanac includes an article entitled “Algoa Bay and Port Elizabeth” by J.C. Chase. Portion of this article is reproduced below.
Main picture: Paddle Steamer Phoenix
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