Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Fire of 1903 which Almost Immolated Pyott’s Ambitions

To a younger generation of Port Elizabethans, the name Pyotts Biscuits is largely unknown but to a century of residents it resonated as the biscuit of choice. Personally, the Pyotts business has a stronger connection. As an articled clerk with Price Waterhouse in the 1970s, I was allocated to the Pyott’s audit. By then the business had been sold to a competitor and later on the name of the business severed its link with the Pyott’s name.   

The details of this fire are wholly derived from a report in the subsequent edition of the Eastern Province Herald.

Main picture: Pyott’s original factory in Port Elizabeth

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The Hand Pump in Broad Street

Advances in medical science are often made by the most unlikely people. Sometimes they are outsiders or more likely they are involved or trained in another discipline. The person making the breakthrough is usually mercilessly vilified by the gatekeepers of the status quo. Ultimately the discovery is adopted without so much as a muted apology from the previously virulent detractors. So it was with cholera.

Main picture: John Snow

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