Port Elizabeth of Yore: Diamond Fever grips the Town

In the mistaken belief that diamonds were scattered on the ground waiting to be picked up, the discovery of diamonds in 1870 caused an exodus to the Diamond Fields in search of their fortune. In many cases Port Elizabeth, being the nearest port, would be the starting point for many fortune hunters travelling north, by wagon or even on foot, covering the 420 miles to De Beers’ New Rush. Soon a dose of reality would set in and many would retrace their footsteps back to Port Elizabeth.

What is little known is that it was not a one way street. Enrepreneurs in Port Elizabeth grabbed the opportunity with both hands and organised the first South African diamond auctions in the town being yet another first for the town.

Main picture: Diamond mining at Kimberley

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Inter-Town Roads of the Mid 1800s – Part 1

As a result of the poor state of the country roads, a trip by ox wagon to Graham’s Town – a distance of only 160 kms – would take eight days. The term road was a euphemism for a track through the bush, which through perpetual usage, had created a passage conforming to the contours, angle and levelness of the ground. No attempt had been made to remove boulders on the route or fill in depressions. Instead the road would skirt around such obstacles. 

What roads were there and what was being done to address this issue? 

Main picture:  Typical condition of the rural main roads in the 1860s

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