Port Elizabeth of Yore: Port Instructions Issued in 1844

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

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Postal Service – Part 3

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

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Postal Service – Part 2

The continuing tale of the establishment of the postal services in Port Elizabeth from its inception in Cape Town until its extension to Uitenhage and by implication to Algoa Bay before 1820.  

This part deals with the postal service from the appointment of the hamlet’s second Postmaster, George Ubsdell in 1828 until the resignation of the Postmistress, Mrs Biggar, the third Postmaster after William Dunn and George Ubsdell.

 Main picture: The first dedicated Post Office in Port Elizabeth in the building with the picket fence  Continue reading

Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Postal Service – Part 1

Before the advent of the internet, the telephone and the telegraph, the state of the art method of communication was the Postal Service. The speed of this service was a function of the speed of the ship, the horse and the cart. History is replete with examples of orders issued being overtaken by events. Take the example of commands from England. They could take five months to reach the Cape. 

Main picture: A Post Cart crossing the drift at the bottom of Van Staden’s Pass

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Sharwood’s Story

Most residents have probably heard of Sharwood’s or even filled up at one of their garages but what most would not be aware of was that Alec Sharwood was both an entrepreneur and an innovator. Prior to Sharwood introducing a fuel pump at his first garage, vehicles were laboriously refuelled by decanting petrol from a drum. 

Sharwood’s was to change all of that. 

Main picture: A great moment in Port Elizabeth’s motoring history as a Whippet motor car on a round-the-Union publicity drive calls at the City’s most modern filling station during the late 1920s. In the white coat, shaking hands with the driver, is Alec Sharwood.

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Photographs for William Alcock

In 1891, William Alcock displayed his penchant for photography by attending the inaugural meeting of the Port Elizabeth Photographic Society on the 27th July held in the Algoa House Hotel in Western Road. Alcock was appointed its first Chairman. 

This is an eclectic collection of photographs taken by William Alcock.

Main picture: July 1902. The first motor car to successfully negotiate Van Stadens Pass – a 4.5 hp Benz owned by W. Alcock

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