Port Elizabeth of Yore: Fogarty’s Bookshop

In its heyday, Fogarty’s was the pre-eminent bookshop in Port Elizabeth occupying premises in Main Street commencing in the basement of No 59 Main Street in 1946. The range of books was extensive especially in military history of which I was an ardent fan. Not having money to purchase, I would nevertheless spend hours perusing the books on display.

Main picture: Interior of Fogarty’s Bookshop

According to the article in eGGSA, Fogarty’s is the oldest bookstore in South Africa. However the website of Van Schaik’s Books contradicts that statement by stating that “Van Schaik Bookstore has a proud heritage as one of the oldest bookstores in southern Africa and reached our 100-year milestone in 2014.” If that is correct, they beat Fogarty’s by 32 years as Fogarty’s Bookshop only commenced business in 1946 when Basil FOGARTY located his business in a basement shop in 59 Main Street, Port Elizabeth.

Basil Fogarty

Presumably it was organic growth which compelled Basil Fogarty to relocated to the Library Building in Market Square and later to the Traduna Building in Main Street where they were located for more than 20 years. On the death of her parents, Teresa has owned Forgarty’s Bookshop since 1987. Under her stewardship, branches were opened in Greenacres and 6th Avenue Walmer. By 1995 the fate of Main Street was sealed with the steady evacuation of businesses from the formerly vibrant and bustling Central Business District. With the demise of Main Street,  a difficult decision had to be taken. In 1995 Fogarty’s branches were shuttered and the main branch relocated from its base at Traduna Mall from which it had operated for 20 years to Walmer Park Shopping Centre. This would remain Fogarty’s home until October 2020 when it would be relocated once more to its new home at 212 Main Road, Walmer.

Above: Fogarty’s new home at 212 Main Road Walmer

According to EGGSA’s Facebook page, Basil FOGARTY was the son of Edward James FOGARTY and Dorothy BRIDGENS, born in Paarl on 11 February 1916. Basil married Elinor Mary Ross ANDERSON from Paisley, Scotland on 7 April 1947 at the St. Michaels Catholic Church in Rondebosch, Cape Town. At the time Basil was a book seller and Elinor an assistant Bookseller, both residing in Walmer, Port Elizabeth.

Being a bibliophile at heart, the texture, smell and feel of a book enraptures me, often tempting me to purchase it. From the first book that I purchased at Fogarty’s in November 1966 to this day, this feeling is undiminished. Knowing the temptation, I now avoid entering its portals unless I have a gift card.

Above: Fogarty’s shop in the Walmer Park Shopping Centre until October 2020
Above: Teressa Fogarty






Long-serving bookshop starts a new chapter, Evening Post, 10 October 2020

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