Quo Vadis: NDE, LBJs & other TLAs

With Quo Vadis’ resident chef not being in attendance on the Barrett’s Coaches Hike at Kaapsehoop, I expected some twittering in the ranks about the attendees’ inability to prepare food. Little did I expect that a member of long standing, and generally not given to being ill-disciplined, would sink to a new level of incompetence: he forgot his food altogether.

The generous members of Quo Vadis stepped into the breach and offered their own food to a Comrade in order to prevent him from contracting anorexia.

This was but one of the numerous incidents which beset the hike to Barrett’s Coaches on the Kaapschehoop Trail in August 2018.

Main picture: Rob & Dean in front of one of the many huge rocks littering the area

Continue reading

Estina Dairy Farm: The World’s Greatest Business Plan

Even according to the most favourable estimates, the Estina Dairy Farm was at best, a marginal enterprise. Even giving the proposers the benefit of the doubt regarding its viability, surely the accountants who perused the proposal would have poked numerous holes in the financial logic.

On checking the current status of this project, the Sunday Times has uncovered an even deeper hole.

Continue reading

Port Elizabeth of Yore: A Pictorial History of Willows

I would have preferred to have written a history of Willows, albeit short, but as I have been unable to uncover any information about this iconic resort, I will invoke my right to present a pictorial blog only. Even as regards photographs, there is a dearth of them covering the early years.

Like many Port Elizabethians, the McCleland family stayed at Willows at some point in their lives. In our case it was over the Easter holidays. Sometimes we even took our home-built canoe along but as the main pool was miniscule, it could, in all honesty, only be used when the facility was not crowded.

Main picture: Two views of Willows separated by 50 years

Continue reading

Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Birth of the Standard Bank

John Paterson was at the forefront of many of the developments in Port Elizabeth. Amongst these were the establishment of the Grey Institute and the Eastern Province Herald. Perhaps the least obvious creation of John Paterson, was that of the Standard Bank. 

It was to be in 1857, that Paterson, a prominent Port Elizabeth businessman, was to turn his hand at banking when he attempted to commence a bank with the title The Standard Bank of Port Elizabeth. A prospectus was duly issued reflecting a proposed capital of £ ¼ million. 

Main picture: The original Standard Bank building

Continue reading

Mill Wheels Grinding: The Orphans

{aka Yenta searching for mills- like any good Jewish Donna Quixote would do} 

As any writer/researcher or mill-chaser will allow, there are times when one is stumped. You sit with a collection of faded sepia photographs, of mills, and try as you may, they simply have no story, or were ignored in the course of history, and their records are lost.

All you get when you search from rumours, “I’m sure there was a mill here long ago” – not much help hey?    

Main picture: Mill of Julian Francis Langholm

Continue reading

Mill Wheels Grinding – The Crumpled Mill, Mansfield

{aka Yenta searching for mills- like any good Jewish Donna Quixote would do}

[Of the 384 mills built in the Eastern Cape, a collective of grist, big wooden wheel- wind, paddles, and horse mills,  wooden wheel on top of the mill, only 90 have been identified to date. Of the 1000 mills built in South Africa, all genres, approximately only a further 20 have been recognized.]

This settler mill, has a very sad tale of great expectations, mayhap no business plan in place, and ended up as a crumbling, neglected, ruin of a mill. {Circa 1840}, Mansfield, the land, itself, is a vast old ‘settler, landmarked farm’, holding copious amounts of fresh water from the strong stream, to the left of the photograph; {the water provided is so endless, that it supplies the village of Port Alfred with fresh water} circa 2018.  Perfect for this large ‘grist-mill’  {the one with the large wooden wheel} .

Main picture: Mansfield Mill in 1987

Continue reading

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Periodic Visitations by the Irascible Rain God

Port Elizabeth has had the misfortune to suffer from periodic devastating floods. Our ancient forefathers would have attributed this to displeasing the Gods in some way or the other, normally by being sinful. With the benefit of science, this phenomenon can surely be attributed to the fact that Port Elizabeth is at the confluence of two weather systems, periodically introducing extreme weather. As the most devastating floods, as well as many of the worst south-easters, occurred during the three months September to November, it can safely be assumed that weather patterns as opposed to vexatious gods, is the culprit for this flooding. 

This blog only covers the significant floods until November 1908. 

Main picture: Repairs after the 1908 floods

  Continue reading

Port Elizabeth of Yore: One Day in September 1869 in Algoa Bay

In the age of sail, the South-Easter in Algoa Bay could be treacherous, driving vessels onto North End beach. Saturday 18th September 1869 was to be no different. At 2:15 p.m. on this fateful day, the officials at the Algoa Bay Port Office put out the signal “wear cables” for the benefit of shipping lying in the roadstead. 

The only unanswered question was whether some or all of these vessels would survive the impending storm. Later during the age of the steamship, riding out a storm was often gut-churning but never fatal. During the age of sail, it was quite another matter. 

Main picture: Ships in Algoa Bay

Continue reading