One of the little known facts about Port Elizabeth of Yore is that there was another church in Main Street apart from St. Mary’s Church, known by the highly imaginative name of New Church. Occupying Main Street between Donkin Street and Constitutional Hill, which extended down to Main Street in those days. This church was initially an independent church built by the members of Union Chapel.
Main picture: New Church is on the right looking towards the Town Hall. One is unable to view the Town Hall bracketing the buildings at the end of Main Street, as it did not yet exist.
Also known as The Scotch Church and Robson’s Congregational Church later in its existence, the architect of New Church was Peter Penketh, who practiced in Cape Town. It was constructed over the period 1852 to 1853.
Most notably, the tower contained a clock known as Town Clock which was later donated by William Jones to the Town Hall where it was installed in 1883.
During March 1853, John Harsant arrived with his family from England to be the first minister of the “New” Church. He served until April 1866, whereupon he returned to England. He was succeeded by John Cheyne Macintosh, after whom the Macintosh Memorial Hall in Pearson Street is named.
In due course, the Presbyterians formed their own congregation and hence this church became a purely Congregational one. Therefore it came to pass – taking a biblical saying – that it became known as Robson’s Congregational Church referring to Pastor Robinson who was the minister in charge.
The church’s use declined following the construction of a new Presbyterian church higher up the hill and was sold to John Holland, in 1878, who had the building altered and given a new street frontage to accommodate his auction business, the Armstrong Auction Rooms. The architect was G. Dix-Peek.
In 1926 the Netherland Bank acquired the building It is not clear if the new bank by
Siemerink included elements of the original church but certainly the elevational treatment of the building was completely changed.
This building was in turn demolished in 1976 and the new Nedbank Building constructed on the site incorporating the lower part of Constitution Hill.
This building is still extant.
A “New” New Church
After the demise of the New Church, an American architect R. Norman Shaw, was requested to design a new “New Church.” As far as it is known, this church was never ever built.
Port Elizabeth: The Social Chronicle to the end of 1945 by Margaret Harradine
Rations, Rules and other Regulations aboard the Settler Ships
Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Earliest Photographs
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Empire units in P.E. during the Boer War
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Defences during the Boer War
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Memorials to the Fallen in War
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Fire Damage to the P.E. Advertiser in 1913
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Albany Road
Algoa Bay before the Settlers: Sojourn by Henry Lichtenstein in the Early 1800s
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Captain Jacob Glen Cuyler
Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Growth of the Population
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Murders most Foul
Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Phoenix Hotel
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Echoes of a Far off War
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Main Street in the Tram Era
Lost Artefacts of Port Elizabeth: Customs House
The Great Flood in Port Elizabeth on 1st September 1968
A Sunday Drive to Schoenmakerskop in 1922
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Horse Drawn Trams
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Trinder Square
The Sad Demise of the Boet Erasmus Stadium
Interesting Old Buildings in Central Port Elizabeth:
The Shameful Torching of Port Elizabeth’s German Club in 1915:
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Cora Terrace:
Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Grand Hotel:
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Whaling in Algoa Bay:
Port Elizabeth of Yore: White’s Road:
Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Slipway in Humewood:
Port Elizabeth of Yore: King’s Beach:
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Russell Road:
Port Elizabeth of Yore: Sand dunes, Inhabitants and Animals: