Due to the Baakens River Valley, Port Elizabeth is effectively cleaved into two. Instead of having to take a circuitous route around, on 22 April 1896 it was decided at a Town Council meeting that the Divisional Council’s proposed plan to build a road through Target Kloof from Port Elizabeth to Walmer be approved. It was the creation of Walmer in 1853 which ultimately created the requirement of a direct road linking the two towns.
Main picture: Target Kloof marked New Road in this photo. Also note the footbridge on the left of the road, probably for when the river was high and people needed to cross. The hill in the background is where Wellington Park is today. Wellington Park is a small Municipal open space on the edge of the Baakens Valley at the corner of Main Rd and 5th Ave. It used to be two sports fields that were maintained voluntarily by the nearby Clarendon Primary School.
Establishment of Walmer
In fact in 1896 Walmer was a separate town from Port Elizabeth. On 1st September 1853 part of the farm Welbedacht was sold in lots of one morgen by the Muller family. It was named Walmer after Walmer Castle, the official seat of the late Duke of Wellington as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. Originally granted to Johannes Potgieter, in 1915 Welbedacht became the property of Anthonie Michael Muller who was married to Potgieter’s daughter. The family homestead stood more or less where the library is today. A Village Management Board was appointed in 1881 and in April 1899 Walmer was incorporated as a Municipality with a Mayor & a Council. Finally in 1967 Walmer was incorporated into the Port Elizabeth Municipality.
In terms of the 1896 resolution, the road had to be 60 feet wide, fenced and maintained by the Divisional Council. By November of that same year, the old road through the Mill Property was closed. The Mill Property, by the way, is where Thomas Gubb who was the owner at the time, got permission to have Xhosa huts built in 1863. Although he sold the land in 1867, the area was still known as Gubb’s Location and was later owned by the Mill Park Estate and Land Company. The location was closed by the Plague Board in 1903, following the outbreak of Bubonic Plague
in Port Elizabeth in 1901 during the South African War (1899 – 1902).
The derivation of the name “Target Kloof” is also of interest. Word has it that there used to be a shooting range on the Port Elizabeth side of the valley near the then Gubb’s Location and the locals started to refer to it as Target Kloof.
Target Kloof in 1906
Book: Port Elizabeth-A Social Chronicle to the end of 1945 by Margaret Harradine
Photos: Two recent photos by Jonker Fourie, other photos unknown