Port Elizabeth of Yore: Camping at Bushy Park in the 1930s

In the era prior to World War Two, coastal towns such as Port Elizabeth were inundated with holiday makers. Their accommodation was not a luxury five star hotel with three hot meals per day. At best it would be accommodation in the house of relatives in the city. This is what my maternal grandparents experienced every Christmas vacation not for one week but for four weeks. Many indigent farmers from upcountry would arrive by ox-wagon. Even so, most would camp somewhere along the coast. This blog takes a surreptitious peak at family and friends camping at Bushy Park beach in the 1930s.

Main picture: Charlie, Billy & Ivan Clark at Bushy Park beach

I have two pertinent observations regarding the photo of fishing. My father, who was an ardent fisherman, would continuously bemoan the fact that the size of fish caught off Schoenmakerskop had diminished substantially since his youth in the 1910s and 20s. This photo certainly bears that fact out. Never again would such large fish be caught by anglers.

Secondly many of the original families in Port Elizabeth are interrelated. On checking the family tree, I found that Charlie Clark shown above was married to Ethel Florence Beckley who happens to be my grandmother’s sister. That means that I am related to the two children Ivan and Billie shown with their father.

Bushy Park – Camping during Christmas 1933

Will this tranquil scene be replaced flats and townhouses in 20 years’ time?

Bushy Park – Camping during Christmas 1933. Accommodation came in a multitude of forms but where was the fridge to store the meat?.
Bushy Park beach – Billy & Ivan in 1936
Bushy Park – Camping during December 1936 in luxurious accommodation

During the 1950s, the McCleland family with cousins, aunts and uncles camped overnight on the beach between Schoenmaker’s Kop and Seaview. As far as I recall, the tent was a tarpaulin and so was the floor.

Family arriving by ox-wagon after a weeks drive from the farming areas outside Port Elizabeth


Photos provided by the Clark family

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