Tempis fugit – Time flies. I am unsure whether one would refer to the 50th anniversary of this building’s demolition as its golden anniversary, but I can vividly recall the floods of 1968 and this building even though I never once used the facilities.
Probably one of the only elegant buildings constructed in Humewood during the turn of the century, it evinced an era of formality in beach attire more akin for modern day formal attire.
Main picture: Humewood Bathing House in the background
The history of this beachfront hotel is shrouded in mystery. Details of its past are sketchy. Unlike other prominent and venerable old hotels in Port Elizabeth, I am unable to produce a complete history of this hotel. Suffice to say that this is an attempt to lay out the facts that are known.
Various establishments over the years bore the word Humewood as part of their name. Some of them are unrelated to one another. This blog serves to set out what these establishments were and their connection if any to the others.
Main picture: The Humewood Beach Hotel was located where the current Garden Court is situated before it was burnt down
Many of the buildings constructed nowadays have little to recommend them. Being merely rectangular blocks, they do not enhance life through their aesthetic appeal. Maybe this is acceptable for industrial buildings but for structures along a beachfront, the bar needs to be set higher. Two buildings of yore met that criterion: the Octagon Café and the Bathing Pavillion. Sadly both are no more.
Main picture: The Octagon Cafe on the Elizabeth Promenade
Until recently, this landmark of Port Elizabeth’s heritage was a mystery to me. Being called a slipway meant that it must have been used in a maritime capacity sometime in the past. Now finally I have found a whole bunch of photographs showing it being used as a ship repair facility.
Main picture: Humewood 1910 with what appears to be a fishing boat being hauled up for maintenance
Being brought up by the sea brought us boundless joy as children. From a very early age we all learned to swim proficiently. As my father was brought up at the coast, he took us to the beach every weekend irrespective of what the weather conditions were like. Due to our competence, we were left unsupervised and unattended on the beach from an early age. Instead of the current generation frequenting the malls, we led an active life.
Even as a competent swimmer I twice almost did not see another day. On both occasions it was a spring tide which was the cause of my near fatal mishaps. Perhaps familiarity breeds contempt as I did not treat the sea with the caution it deserves.
These are the chronicles of those events still seared in my memory.
Main picture: This is a view of the main sand dune at Maitlands River Mouth Continue reading