What is the significance of this roof structure which looks like a soldier’s helmet? Does it have any connection to the organisation known as the MOTHS – Memorable Order of Tin Hats? This Promenade Dome is commonly known as “The Tin Hat” from its resemblance to a First World War helmet but could not have had any connection to the Moth order as it was only founded in 1927 whereas this structure was built in 1923.
Main picture: Humewood promenade in 1909
During this era, this promenade, on which this Promenade Dome was located, was officially known as the “Princess Promenade”. During November 1923, the Governor-General, Prince Arthur of Connaught, and Princess Arthur paid a short farewell visit to Port Elizabeth. On the 6th November, Prince Arthur opened the Campanile and laid the foundation stone of the first Scouts’ Hall, at North End, presented by Mrs. A.M. Gibaud.
While the Prince was busy with these two official openings, it was Princess Alexandra who opened the “Princess Promenade” at Humewood. The promenade was built in sections over several years. The official opening took place under the Promenade Dome, designed by the Assistant City Engineer, J.J. Burt. Commonly known as the “Tin Hat” from its resemblance to a First World War helmet, there was a bronze plate, the work of J. Gardner, to commemorate the occasion, but like many such valuable pieces of bronze, it soon disappeared probably being sold to a scrap merchant.
Port Elizabeth: A Social Chronicle to the end of 1945 by Margaret Harradine (2004, Historical Society of Port Elizabeth, Port Elizabeth)