McWilliams of Rink Street

Hazel and Walter McWilliams

Written by Lynette McWilliams, daughter of Walter and Hazel McWilliam

It was in April 1949, five months before my fifth birthday when the family of four travelled from Port Elizabeth to seaside town of Hermanus, 350 miles west of Port Elizabeth and 50 miles miles east of Cape Town.  This journey was life changing, changing our lives in just about every way possible. The consequence; a credit to two wonderful people.

Main picture: Hazel and Walter McWilliams

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Fischer’s Jewellers

One of the very earliest photos of the newly opened Fischer & Co building in Main Street circa 1914

Not only Fischer’s Jewellers embody the essence of Port Elizabeth but for many of its citizens, especially in prior generations, Fischer’s was their preferred choice for jewellery. Apart from this obvious connection, my grandmother had another, more obtuse connection, to this iconic store. 

Main picture: One of the very earliest photos of the newly opened Fischer & Co building in Main Street circa 1914

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Hill Presbyterian Church

View of the Hill Presbyterian Church from Donkin Reserve

Initially the Presbyterians in Port Elizabeth could not afford their own church so they supported the “New Church,” an Independent Church, from 1853. This church was located at the corner of Main and Donkin Streets. Finally, in 1861 they were able to support their own church. 

Accordingly, they built a magnificent Gothic style church in a prominent position on the hill which is visible from Algoa Bay. 

Main picture: View of the Hill Presbyterian Church from Donkin Reserve

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Advent of Bioscope

A little gathering outside the theatre  that became the Grand

The fact that just over a year after Cinématographe was invented in 1895, it was demonstrated commercially first in Joburg and then in Port Elizabeth, is indicative of the pervasive nature of technology. Moving pictures had finally been invented albeit without embedded sound. 

In spite of these restrictions, people flocked to witness the latest invention which, like all pioneering devices, would be used both for good and ill. Think of Geobbels, the Communist states and even Donald Trump with his fake news. 

Main picture: A little gathering outside the theatre  that became the Grand Continue reading

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Water, water, everywhere but……..

The Children's Pool and Shark River

In the annuals of history, one of the key criteria for the establishment of a town was a ready water supply. What this meant in reality was that towns were located on a perennial river with a persistent strong flow. Not so Port Elizabeth. This problem was to bedevil its development over the years. 

Where did Port Elizabeth obtain its water supply from, especially in the early years? 

Main picture: On this puny stream, grandiloquently called Shark River, that supplied Port Elizabeth with its first piped water

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