Port Elizabeth of Yore: The creation of a Port without a Harbour.

For the majority of the 143 years from 1652 to 1795 during which the Dutch occupied the Cape, Algoa Bay and its potential use as a Harbour can be likened to a black hole. Nothing was known about it and the Government authorities were ignorant of its existence. The raison d’etre of the use of Cape Town was that it served as a replenishment station en route to the Dutch East Indies. Nothing more and nothing less.  

It took more than a century after 1652 before the Dutch authorities displayed a modicum of interest in this Bay. This blog deals with that unhurried awakening of interest and its gradual adoption as a harbour. If the truth be told, without the British occupation of the colony, the recognition and adoption of Port Elizabeth would possibly not have arisen and some other river mouths such as the Zwartkops, Buffalo or Kowie would have snatched the prize.

Let it be crystal clear: It was not a foregone conclusion that the harbour in Algoa Bay would be situated at the mouth of a paltry stream such as the Baaken’s River.

Main picture: Blockhouse on the Baakens River in 1803

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Fort Frederick-The Unbloodied Sentinel

It is fair to say that the establishment of Fort Frederick was more a response to political tensions in Europe than to local enmity between Dutch frontiersmen and Xhosa tribesmen. While the later upheavals arose as the vanguard of the Dutch boeren [Afrikaans boere] approached the advancing Xhosa tribesmen, the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789 had plunged Europe into a protracted period of war. 

This blog traces the fascinating history of Fort Frederick from its inception until the present time. 

Main picture: Fort Frederick dated 12 March 1905

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