In its early days, Port Elizabeth was like a magnet attracting many entrepreneurial types. This is what made it so vibrant and dynamic. Amongst those were the Berry’s, two unrelated families. One made its fortune in contracts with the Divisional Council and the other as a hotel proprietor.
This blog covers the travails of Walter Horace Berry, the Hotelier.
Main picture: Walter Horace Berry, son of Walter Horace Berry senior
Walter Horace Berry was born circa 1873 at Richmond, Surrey, England, the son of Walter Horace & Emma Berry. Walter married a German woman Wilhelmina Marie Magdalene Peterson who bore him three children Olive Rosa Maria, Walter Horace Berry and Wilhelm Reinhard Berry.
In spite of bearing the grandiloquent title Hotel, the Walmer Road Hotel could more accurately be characterised as a canteen. In about 1879, it was run by a Mr. T. Jordan and it may be the same establishment as that run by William Considine in the 1860s. In about 1898, it was taken over by Walter Horace Berry, who ultimately purchased it in 1903. As was the custom in those days, such establishments were often referred to by the name of the proprietor. Hence the Walmer Road Hotel was more commonly known as Berry’s Hotel. After his premature death on 4th February 1907 at the age of 33 years and 5 months at this hotel, his widow ran it until Ohlsson’s Breweries – later to be more commonly known as South African Breweries – acquired it in about 1915 and re-named it the Collins Hotel. Wilhelmina Marie Magdalene Peterson died in Trieste Italy in 1940.
For approximately the last two years of his short life, Berry suffered from several severe ailments. These were nephritis which is an inflammation of the kidneys, epileptiform convulsions which is a form of epileptic seizure and syncope, a temporary decrease in blood flow to the brain which causes fainting episodes.
Walter Horace would today also be considered as a property magnet as he owned all the land in Humewood from the today’s S-Bends to the MacArthur Swimming Pools. In those days Humewood was still uninhabited and Berry owned the solitary house on the beachfront on which St Leonard’s flats at 25 Beach Road, Humewood, was later built. This must have been a very lonely, solitary house as there were no other houses in Humewood at that time.
The link to the estate file:
Robert Berry- Walter Horace Berry’s great grandson
Here is the death registration which gives the cause of death:
Gravestone with date of birth: