A century ago was the era of the bandstand which epitomised for me the music of the brass band. Bandstands were simply a covered outdoor platform on which a band could play. No elaborate protection from inclement weather was required as this was an era prior to the use of electrical musical instruments.
Port Elizabeth followed the world-wide trend and built two during the first decade of the 20th century. Thirty years later they were gone.
Main picture: Bandstand in Trinder Square
During WW2, South Africa was requested to train Allied aircrew in the Union. In terms of the JATS – the Joint Air Training Scheme – South Africa would train 33,347 aircrew which included 12,221 SAAF personnel. Amongst the 37 South African based air schools, No. 42 was based in Port Elizabeth, south of the main civilian airport.
Included amongst the 21,126 foreigners who were trained in South Africa over the 5 years of WW2, was one who came from Tasmania in Australia, Pierce Joseph Keating.
Main picture: Sergeant PJ Keating
I’ve heard of the word cenotaph and was aware that one existed at the corner of Rink Street and Park Drive. Apart from merely noting its presence whilst driving hither and thither to Varsity, I never pondered the meaning of the word. The odd ph letter grouping gives the hint that it has a Greek origin but that was about as far my thinking went. After all, there were far more important things to ponder as a young man. The truth is more revealing or shocking or startling, depending on how you look at it.
Main picture: Unveiling of the Cenotaph on the 10th November 1929
Port Elizabeth was at the
centre of the burgeoning mohair industry in the 1800s. It still is except that
the industry is no longer flourishing. Before the motor vehicle assembly
industry was established in Port Elizabeth during the 1920s, wool as well as
mohair were the mainstays of the local economy.
This is the long-forgotten story of the rise of this industry off the back of the Angora goat and its fall in the twentieth century.
Main picture: One of the last batches of Angoras imported
from Turkey by Adolph Mosenthals & Co. in 1895. Mr.& Mrs. W. Mosenthal
are seated in the buggy with Mr. H. Goldschmidt standing in the background. In
the foreground are three Turkish goat handlers who accompanied the animals on
This desk was more than a piece of inanimate wood
reposed in the study of the house “Swiss Villa”, situated at number 20 Cape Road. In
an age prior to instant communication via the phone, this writing desk was the connection
between the far-flung family – the Rose-Innes, the Fehrsen’s and the Frielinghaus’
– whether in German East Africa during WW1 or Sidi Rezegh in North Africa during
Through this central hub or focal point, Harry
Rose-Innes relates the family history as well as the secret of the piece of
furniture. Written in 1987, the story was entitled “The Writing Desk”.
Main picture: Tram in Cape Road in the 1920s
This is the story of a woman who, without consideration
of the consequences, assisted Afrikaner women, the “enemy”, who were incarcerated
in the concentration camp at Kemsley Park, near the top of Mount Round during
the Boer War.
This is an extract of the account by Harry William Rose-Innes
of “Miemie” Frielinghaus’ actions entitled “The Face of Destiny”.
This is blog is faithful to Rose-Innes original account except that irrelevant information
has been omitted.
Main picture: Concentration Camp Memorial in Lennox
What is the significance of this roof structure which looks like a soldier’s helmet? Does it have any connection to the organisation known as the MOTHS – Member of the Order of Tin Hats? This Promenade Dome is commonly known as “The Tin Hat” from its resemblance to a First World War helmet but could not have had any connection to the Moth order as it was only founded in 1927 whereas this structure was built in 1923.
Main picture: Humewood
promenade in 1909
The three main war memorials in
the metro are all situated in Port Elizabeth viz: The Horse Memorial, the
Cenotaph in Rink Street and the Prince Alfred’s Guards memorial in St. Georges
Park. Of the three memorials situated in Walmer, only one is well-known.
Main picture: Cenotaph in Walmer
With the town rapidly expanding, the need for a 2nd Anglican Church in Port Elizabeth arose. During an age with neither public transport nor private motor vehicles, churches had to be located within walking distance of their congregants. During both of his visits in 1848 & 1850, Bishop Robert Gray of Cape Town had pointed out the need for a church in North End with a capacity of 200 to 250 congregants to serve the needs of the local Anglicans.
Sunday School was started in 1850, the first services for adults began in 1853, and the laying of the foundation stone of the original church by Bishop John Armstrong took place on18th October 1854. Part of the early ministry of the parish was the establishment of a school in 1861.
This church, he suggested, should be built on land offered by Mr Charles Cooper and MrsJohanna Korsten, at the foot of Cooper’s Kloof (now Albany Road) on the corner of Main Street (now part of Govan Mbeki Avenue).The building was designed by Sophy Gray, the wife of Bishop Robert Gray; it was consecrated in 1856. Due to the movement of the congregation to new areas, the church was demolished in 1959 and the site sold, a new St Paul’s Church being built in Tucker Street, in the suburb of Parsons Hill, to replace the old one.