Port Elizabeth of Yore: State of Medical Services in the 1800s

By the 1850s, there was heightened concern about the lack of a hospital in Port Elizabeth. Discussions amongst the town’s folk increasingly revolved around this requirement.  Whenever citizens congregated, it was a topic of discussion. Even though the population had risen by 1855 to about 3500 and disease and sickness was increasing, Port Elizabeth still did not have a hospital. Plans for a hospital were discussed over several years.

It was not until Act 5 of 1856 established the Port Elizabeth Provincial Hospital that planning for a hospital could commence. As an interim measure, a house in Rodney Street was hired to serve as a hospital. This was opened on the 10th September 1856 with Dunsterville and Rubidge serving as doctors.

Main picture: Entrance to the Richmond Hill provincial hospital in 1856

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Port Instructions Issued in 1844

Whether due to a lack of funds or wilful neglect, by the 1840s, despite Port Elizabeth’s harbour exceeding Cape Town for exports, it still operated directly from the beaches. The so-called landing beaches stretched along the beach from Jetty Street to the mouth of the Baakens River. 

The loading and unloading of vessels at anchor in the Bay has been dealt with in a prior blog. Instead this article, deals with the management of the vessels in the Bay during those early years.

Main picture: Vessels at anchor in Algoa Bay

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