Port Elizabeth of Yore: Bushy Park

Hunt at Bushy Park

The area known as Bushy Park is today inextricably linked to the Lovemore clan. Yet it might not always have been so. In fact Henry Lovemore was not the initial owner of this land but Lt Cornelius Bolton Alcock and it was known as Klaas Kraal. Even Cornelius was not the initial applicant for this land.

 This blog is the story of those early days of Bushy Park. 

Main picture:  Hunting at Bushy Park

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Paddle Steamer Phoenix

Phoenix paddle steamer

The paddle steamer Phoenix had more than one connection with Port Elizabeth, apart from operating between Cape Town and Algoa Bay, but the other associations are more tenuous. However, it is perhaps for the nebulous reason that the name Phoenix will forever be remembered in Port Elizabeth albeit for the wrong reason.

Main picture: The paddle steamer Phoenix

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: A Port City without a Harbour

Landing of the 1820 British settlers at Algoa bay

Needless to say, but when the 1820 Settlers arrived at Port Elizabeth, there was nothing awaiting them and that included a harbour. In fact, the sum total of the population of Port Elizabeth in 1819 was 35 souls, mainly men. Yet despite exponential growth in population and port activities, Port Elizabeth never possessed a proper harbour for the first 110 years of its existence.

How did the town handle the veritable flood of imports and exports until the first permanent  jetty was constructed in 1870 and the first quay in the 1930s?

 Main picture: Settlers landing in unstable flat bottomed boats

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Polio: A Crippling Affliction now Largely Forgotten

A polio patient in an iron lung in 1938

As my father contracted polio, or poliomyelitis as it formally known, at a young age, it is one of the crippling diseases of which the McCleland family is well aware. Before the advent of vaccines in the 1940s, this scourge could not be prevented and the treatments bordered upon the barbaric. About 10% of the victims ultimately succumbed to it. Fortunately, my father’s malady was less severe as it only affected one foot. Nevertheless, one leg was shorter than the other which precluded normal sporting and other activities.  

This is the chronicle of that devastating disease, now largely forgotten.

Main picture: A polio patient in an iron lung in 1938

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Donkin Lighthouse

Signal Ball at Donkin Lighthouse in 1860s

Being in such close proximity to one another, I have often considered this lighthouse and the adjacent pyramid as being contemporary structures. Nothing could be further from the truth. This blog, largely based on the 1986 thesis by Jon Inggs, provides the historical detail from the conceptualisation to the erection of the Donkin Lighthouse.

Main picture: Signal Ball at Donkin Lighthouse in 1860s

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WW2’s Unusual, Amazing and Sometimes Ironic Statistics

Only 20% of the males born in the Soviet Union in 1923 survived the war

In all respects, WW2 was a war of superlatives. From the number of people killed to the quantum of destruction of civilian property, it easily outranks all previous wars combined. Of all other wars, it was truly waged on an industrial scale.

This blog presents those statistics that will amaze, astonish and often make one reflect on why in the mid 20th century, man’s primal instinct was still to murder, annihilate and plunder.

Main picture: Only 20% of the males born in the Soviet Union in 1923 survived the war

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A Haunting Reminder of the Horrors of WW1

Tin Tommy#01

The horrors of WW1 are unspeakable. Knowing that their chances of survival were minuscule once “going over the top”, unhinged many a Tommy. Even those who were terror stricken, had to face another enemy apart from their warped minds, a tribunal for desertion or failing to obey an order if they failed to display an appropriate martial ardour.

Such were the terrors of an inhumane war. To commemorate this suffering, Martin Galbavy has created a “tin” statue as a tribute to the soldier’s bravery, their torment & the suppression of their demons.

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Swimming

Swimming

Swimming in the 19th century must be understood against the backdrop of the conservative mores of that era. This resulted in a flurry of rules to prevent men and women swimming together. By the end of the century, attitudes towards “mixed swimming” were more relaxed.

This blog chronicles the saga of sea swimming in Port Elizabeth from its first attempt at the breakwater in 1866, the construction of the first swimming pool in Port Elizabeth and finally to swimming at Humewood.

Main picture: Swimming facilities at the harbour breakwater beyond the surf boats

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