As a young child I had an aversion to trees; most trees but not the Wild Fig tree. There was something enchanting even mystical about their giant protruding roots. Perhaps this affinity arose due to playing in Trinder Square with its veritable forest of wild fig trees. This arose due to my cousins staying in Pearson Avenue which is no more than a block away.
Main picture: Trinder Square in 1867
Originally what was to become Trinder Square was a wide open vlei. In the early days of Fort Frederick, the Garrison Company’s garden lay on the western side of it. Later as it was a natural drainage point, the vlei provided water for animals during the early and mid 1800’s when many of the farmers coming to do business at Market Square brought their animals here to drink. In addition the local black population used the water for domestic purposes.
During February 1883, the vlei between Western Road and Bird Street was drained and in June a wall with iron railings made by Joseph Lewis, was built around it. Periodically by removing clay from it to construct roads in the vicinity, it was deepened.
After its beautification, it became known as the “Trinder Reserve”, the name was derived from the name of two semi-detached houses on the corner of Alfred Street and Western Road called the “Trinder Villas.” In one of these lived Mr H.W. Pearson M.L.A. lived for many years. He was married the widow of William Trinder Smith, Trinder being a surname in the Smith family.
Even though the unsightly vlei was eventually filled in, the original name was retained.
In its new iteration, Trinder Square was grassed with green lawns and the impressive Wild Fig trees were planted.
In its most recent phase, Trinder Square has recently been upgraded making it part of Route 67. Mosaic covered benches has been built to represent the exposed roots of the old Wild Fig trees that still grow around the park while play equipment has been installed in the south-east corner of the park. It is a popular spot where youngsters from the surrounding flats come to play soccer.
Port Elizabeth in Bygone Days by JJ Redgrave
Hills covered with Cottages by Margaret Harradine
Port Elizabeth – a Social Chronicle to the end of 1945 by Margaret Harradine
Port Elizabeth – A Visual History by Kin Bentley