Until recently, this landmark of Port Elizabeth’s heritage was a mystery to me. Being called a slipway meant that it must have been used in a maritime capacity sometime in the past. Now finally I have found a whole bunch of photographs showing it being used as a ship repair facility.
Main picture: Humewood 1910 with what appears to be a fishing boat being hauled up for maintenance
This slipway was constructed by the Port Elizabeth Harbour Board at the mouth of the Shark River. The intention was to create a ship repair facility for vessels of up to 400 tonnes. Construction commenced in 1899.
Finally on 30 July 1903 it was opened for operations with the steam lighter, the Loch Gair, being drawn up for repairs that day. On 10th August the “James Searle” was also brought onto land and two new iron lighters were being built.
A boat was steadied between six masonry piers and a cradle was lowered underneath. Steam driven hauling gear then pulled the cradle and boat onto dry land.
The slipway was taken out of use in 1939 and much of the structure has subsequently been removed.
Some of the shipwrights working at the slipway stayed in the slipway cottages, located where the Beach Manager’s office is situated now.
Related blogs on Port Elizabeth:
For this information, I owe a debt of gratitude to Margaret Harradine’s book Port Elizabeth – A Social Chronicle to the end of 1945
Recent photographs: Jonker Fourie