Port Elizabeth of Yore: List of PE’s Firsts

At its establishment, Port Elizabeth was known for its pioneering and enterprising spirit. It was this ethos which drove the development of the town. Then it was the discovery of gold and diamonds in the north which diverted this spirit to the Transvaal as it steadily gained the ascendancy.

Main picture: Johannes Molikoe was appointed snake handler on 1 August 1918 and retired in August 1947. He died aged 83.

1770s: The first trading commodity was probably salt. As early as the 1770’s Boers would trek from inland to load salt at the Bay’s salt pans either for their own use or for trading purposes.

1799: The first permanent structure erected by the British, Fort Frederick is probably the oldest stone building in the Eastern Cape

1799: The first and only naval engagement in Algoa Bay

1811: The first industrial empire established in South Africa was created by Frederick Korsten at Cradock Place. It involved farming, salting and export of beef, a tannery, salt pans, cooperage, a smithy, sawmills, whale fishery, fish curing and shipping.

 1820: First major landing of British settlers

1843: First cricket club formed

1846: First joint stock company – the Maitland Mining Company – formed

1857: South Africa’s oldest existing turf club formed

1869: First diamond auction in South Africa

1871: First passenger service to the Diamond Fields was established by Americans Cobb and Cole.

1874: First shipment of South African gold leaves Algoa Bay

1880: First bowling club formed
         First public telephone exchange built
        First art school established

1883: First headquarters of the South African Jockey Club
         First kennel club formed

1885: Thomas Milward starts the first match factory
         First totaliser installed

1887: First SA black rugby club – The Union Rugby Club – formed in New Brighton

1889: First cricket test match held. It was against England.

1891: First championship lawn tennis tournament held
        First rugby international played

1892: First philatelic society founded
The P.E. Chamber of Commerce raises for the at the Congress of the Chambers of Commerce of the British Empire in London the question of a decimal currency

1896: First demonstration of X-Rays

1897: Radio discovery by E.A. Jennings, a Post Office technician. First experimental wireless transmission in South Africa

1904: First South African bowling association formed

1905: The Horse Memorial, the first war memorial to horses anywhere, installed

1906: Narrow gauge railway opened between Port Elizabeth and Avontuur. Now the only existing 24 inch gauge railway in the world.

1909: Algoa Quoit Club, the first in South Africa

1910: First mail order business started

1918: First snake park opened

1921: Erection of the first campanile in South Africa
        First shore to ship wireless message sent from PE Radion to the Armadale Castle

1924: First motor car and truck assembly plant opened

1929: Major A.M. Miller establishes the first national commercial airline

1937. First factory to manufacture dry cell batteries

1945: First industrial grinding wheels manufactured

1948: First electric bulbs manufactured.
         First factory to manufacture hot dip galvanised windows

1953: First milk sterilisation plant installed

1954: First successful fence to contain wild elephants (at Addo)
         First gem club started

1957: First soroptimist formed

1959: First basket ball test played

1960: First woman’s cricket test played

1961: First carbon black factory started

1962: First performing dolphins – Dimple and Haig

1963:  First Press and Radion club formed
         First amateur wrestling test (between Germany and South Africa)

1964: First motor engine plant opens

1965: UPE, the first dual medium university launched

1968: First all-South African car manufactured

1969: First woman’s cross-country trial

 Even though the Eastern Province Herald, established in 1845, was in print two years prior to its nearest competitor, it never made the grade as the oldest extant newspaper. This situation arose when John Paterson changed the papers name to the Eastern Province News for a short period in a bid to defeat a competitor. Hence the EP Herald can only be considered as being in continuous print when the name E.P. Herald was resuscitated.

Eastern Province Herald Supplement,18 October, 1989

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