Port Elizabeth of Yore: The First Provincial Hospital

Plans for a hospital were discussed over several years. It was not until Act 5 of 1856 established the Port Elizabeth Provincial Hospital that planning for a hospital could commence. As an interim measure, a house in Rodney Street was hired to serve as a hospital. This was opened on the 10th September 1856 with Dunsterville and Rubidge serving as doctors.

Main picture: Entrance to the Richmond Hill provincial hospital in 1856

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Hans Wilhelm Münch: The Nazi who said No

Only one SS soldier believed that what Mengele and Auschwitz represented was inhumane. That was Hans Wilhelm Münch, the only physician whose commitment to the Hippocratic Oath proved stronger than the Reichswehreid [German Army Oath] and his commitment to the SS. In terms of this Oath, obedience to the Führer, the supreme commander, was unconditional, yet Münch survived.

Main picture: Hans Wilhelm Münch

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Unexpected photos of the Wehrmacht during WW2

The most widely used photographs of German troops during WW2 reflect a martial disposition from the menacing Tiger tank to steely eyed troops firing MG42 machine guns. None of the photographs used below would ever appear in official histories of the war.

Even though they might reflect the humanity of the ordinary German soldier, this blog does not in any way endorse the behaviour of the Nazi regime or the German military forces.

Main picture: German soldier sharing water with a baby

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Discovery of the Sacramento

Of all the ships which were wrecked along the Port Elizabeth and adjacent coastline, only two were noteworthy but for different reasons. Of the two, the saga of the Sacramento’s sinking on 30 June 1647 culminated in two stirring tales. One involved the dramatic 1400km trek by the survivors to the Portuguese Port at Delagoa Bay. The second and equally dramatic tale is that of the subsequent discovery and recovery of the numerous cannons by a local diver, David Allen.

Both make for compelling stories but as this is a potted history of Port Elizabeth, the focus will be fixed on the latter escapade.

Main picture: David Allen-left-with Gerry van Niekerk making notes of the most perfectly presevered of the 40 guns lifted from the wreck site.

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The Post Office Could Get Nothing Right

For my research, I am always purchasing second-hand books on the internet. As reports had indicated that the service at the Post Office had improved, I took a chance. Instead of paying a courier R100 for a delivery within two days, I would save some money and pay R55 for the Post Office. I might have to wait a few extra days but that was not the end of the world.

Or so I incorrectly thought.

Main picture: Post Office International Mail

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: From School to Synagogue, Then Church to Café

Not many buildings in Port Elizabeth have experienced such a varied usage over their lives. If buildings could divulge their secrets, this humble unprepossessing tiny building on the corner of Belmont Terrace and Western Road, would have many tales to tell.

Main picture: The Diocesan Grammar School on the corner of Belmont Terrace and Western Road

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Ushering in Electricity and Lighting

The lack of street lighting in the pre-electricity era must have made walking outdoors at night particularly dangerous. If nothing else, this factor must have induced the Town Council to expedite the installation of street lighting as the technology enabled this feature. Furthermore commerce and industry required electricity to operate all manner of equipment, apparatuses and appliances which the use of electrical power enabled.

To do so, Port Elizabeth would ultimately require its own generating equipment which in turn would require it to import coal.

To say that the introduction of electricity would fundamentally change society was a gross understatement. It would transform society in ways which were unthinkable previously. Apart from facilitating nocturnal social intercourse, it would also facilitate the introduction of shift work in industry.

Main picture: Installing overhead electricity cables

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The First Tarred Roads

The renowned economist John Maynard Keynes once famously exclaimed that “The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones”. Whilst that might have been true in most instances, it is doubtful whether anybody except the most curmudgeonly would have objected to this innovation. But who knows? Progress always has its naysayers. Perhaps others ignored it as being fatuous!

Main picture: Steam roller on the opening of Albany Road. The prominent building on the hill is the Erica School for Girls, designed by architect William White Cooper and opened on 4 November 1903.

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Race report feedback, Run The Track, Dubai (UAE) Autodrome, 16 March 2019

The document title ‘let’s the cat out of the bag’, so to speak. So how does it transpire that one ends up doing a 5 (Elise) and a 10 kilometre (Elbert) race on the Dubai Autodrome circuit . Well, concern on being able to not sacrifice too many kilometres (1000 KM Challenge related) whilst visiting our eldest son (Hannes-Ras), his wife (Arina) and first granddaughter (Sofia-Mejé), was a splendid reason. The Dubai visit was planned for 7 – 23 March 2019. This would also be the first occasion on which Elise and I would be flying together internationally. Yip, so we did some ‘ground breaking’ firsts here. :-)    

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