Port Elizabeth of Yore: The oldest Golf Club

During 1890, the first golf club was formed in Port Elizabeth. A preliminary meeting was held in the Algoa House Hotel on 29 August, and the first rounds were played on 27 September. The first President was Sir Frederick Blaine and the site chosen for the course was on the North End flats. In 1902 the new course and club-house on the Cape Road flats were opened.

Main picture: Golf Links of the Port Elizabeth Golf Club

Fairway used as extemporised runway
In November 1817, Major Allister Miller made the first flight from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, landing on the P.E. Golf Club course. His plane was a BE 2E biplane with a 100 hp Austin engine. His arrival was most eagerly awaited by people from all around the district, who assembled to see the plane arrive. An imperfect landing and the crowds waiting on the golf course caused Miller to strike a bunker and damage the propeller (now in the possession of the Golf Club) of the biplane. The purpose of Miller’s flights around the country was to recruit men for the Royal Flying Corps (later the RAF). This was his second recruiting drive and some 8000 applicants volunteered themselves for selection.

5th Greens of the PE Golf Club

Conveniently situated in the heart of the city, along Westview Drive, Mill Park, the long-standing Port Elizabeth Golf Club offers an outstanding golf course and first class facilities. Having been in existence for over 100 years, it is steeped in tradition and is known to locals as “The Hill”. The length of the Course is 6117 Meters with 18 holes / Par 72.

It is rated as being amongst the top 100 golf club in South Africa and is also the 2nd oldest Golf Course in South Africa.

Port Elizabeth: A Social Chronicle to the end of 1945 by Margaret Harradine (1996, E H Walton (Packaging (Pty) Ltd, Port Elizabeth, on behalf of the Historical Society of Port Elizabeth).

A SMAC in the Face #57: God Wants Semtex

The Israeli/Palestinian issue has seen five conventional wars since 1948 between the Israelis and various coalitions of Arabs in support of the Palestinians.  This area also became a proxy war for the West supporting Israel and Russia supporting the Arabs.  The Russian bear went into hibernation in 1989, but reawakened with the invasion and annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the invasion of Ukraine last year.  Although it is a shadow of its former self, it has aligned itself with the next superpower, China, and a bunch of crazy as bat shit nuclear regimes like Iran and North Korea.  Meanwhile, China is increasingly flexing its muscle in the South China Sea and ramping up its rhetoric and intimidatory manoeuvres against Taiwan.

Has the outrage by Iran-backed Hamas been carefully scripted by Iran to take advantage of the realignment of world order to force a massive international confrontation.  Will history record this as the spark that led to WWIII, like the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand that snowballed into WWI?

Given China’s leading role in this possible outcome, perhaps it will be called WWXI.

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A (Gob)SMAC in the Face #55:  Stade de France – High Crime Zone

The last three matches of the Rugby World Cup were faster than the Fast and the Furious, more brutal than the Gladiator and had more drama than your average soapie.  But ultimately they were muggings on steroids.  The three teams – France, England and New Zealand must have asked themselves how did the amaBokke manage it – single point wins, three weeks in a row.  SMAC doesn’t know either.  In fact, he’s gobSMACed.  It wasn’t pretty, but there it is and it will be thus till eternity.

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: A Brief History of the Library

What the saga to establish a library in Port Elizabeth indicates is the civic mindedness of its citizens. This is a case in point in which the denizens of the town understood that to improve society, education in general and libraries specifically had a significant role to play in this process. Unlike today’s public libraries which offer a free service in those days it was a “subscription” service.

Main picture: Library

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A Quick SMAC #1: Inspector Clouseau

When Russia invaded Ukraine with massed forces, the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (DIRCO) rightly condemned it.   Within 24 hours they obsequiously changed their position to plead for negotiation even though Russia was in complete contravention of the UN Charter regarding the vivisection of sovereign member countries.  Their attempts at justification ran the gamut from the moral equivalence of the US con job – the Iraq War – to ‘we have shown the world the way of negotiation to solve problems’.  It maintained that it was non-aligned but was actually aligning itself to China and Russia to help create a bipolar world.  Along the way it allowed a Russian ship to dock in Simonstown with its transponder turned off and surreptitiously load unknown cargo in the dead of night.  It followed this up by taking part in naval wargames with their newfound buddies, Russia and China.  A bit of navel gazing would have been more appropriate.  SA has also been all at sea with how to deal with Putin if he arrives for the planned BRICS conference later this year.  All the while, SA repeatedly abstained from numerous votes in the UN condemning Russian aggression

Suddenly, on 2 May, SA abstained as per normal in the UN – ho, hum – but their ‘non-aligned’ buddies; China, India and Brazil, threw them to the wolves by voting to condemn Russian aggression.

Oops.  SA has found itself naked and clueless.

Quo vadis SA?

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Origin of the name of Heugh Road

On Sunday afternoons in the McCleland’s household we performed our familial duty by visiting the family’s matriarch, Elizabeth Daisy McCleland. She lived with her daughter, Thelma, at 99 Albert Street . One of the roads down which we drove bore a unique but odd name: Heugh. What puzzled me over the years was the origin of the word Heugh. Even though it sounded to be Germanic in origin, it clearly was not Afrikaans.

And so the mystery would remain unsolved for another 60 odd years, until, in the midst of my research into Port Elizabeth’s history, I have tracked it down. It is the derived from a successful merchant of Danish origins, Johannes Pieter Heugh.

Main picture: Castle Hill showing Prospect House formerly Stanley House

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Wreck of the Lyngenfjord

The Gale of 1902 in which a dozen ships were driven onto North End beach and wrecked, would be the last such mass destruction of vessels in a gale. The conversion from sailing vessels to steam powered ships was driven by productivity considerations but as an ancillary benefit, they would eradicate weather-related disasters. The Lyngenfjord was one of the sparse diet of wrecks over the next century.

Main picture: The Lyngenfjord taken by George Wood. Tins of petrol had just offloaded onto the cliff edge when the disaster occurred.

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A SMAC in the Face #49:  SONAR 2023 – RSA Titania

The State of the Nation Address (SONA) normally follows a predictable pattern. This year was no different.  It kicks off with a distasteful display of female politicians trying to outdo each other in the mutton dressed as ham stakes.  Someone should tell them the address part is about a speech, not a fashion parade. Someone should also tell all the ANC politicians that the walk up the red carpet is not like the Grammys or the Oscars but, for them, a walk of shame and, for some, a perp walk. Then it was on to the address itself.

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Grandiose Freeway Scheme

By the 1960s and after a decade of spectacular economic growth, traffic volumes had increased substantially. Burgeoning vehicle ownership had exacerbated the situation. Lest we forget, the road grid was designed to cater for the central business district and North End whereas the commercial and industrial growth was northwards. Something had to be done to arrest the traffic situation.

The proposed solution was the construction of a freeway network.

Main picture: Settlers freeway under construction

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Fire at the Herald’s Offices in April 1902

Buildings of this era faced several dangers, not least of which was the fact that often wood was used extensively in building construction. The shambolic state of fire fighting services was thrown into sharp relief whenever yet another prominent building was destroyed in a conflagration.  Finally in 1917, 15 years after this conflagration, the Fire Brigade was professionally manned.

Main picture: The total staff and equipment complement of the PE Fire Brigade in 1904

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