Port Elizabeth of Yore: Taking the Old Fishery Road to The Fishery

During the 1800s the area known today as Hobie Beach was originally called The Fishery. As the coast south of the harbour was rocky and inland of the shore was covered with fine, soft sand dunes into which ones feet would sink much like into a soft jelly, the direct coastal route was considered impassable. Instead, a circuitous route which bypassed this sand belt, was created. It was this road that was the improvised roadway known as the old Fishery Road which vended its way inland before making a sharp left turn towards the sea.

As The Fishery was the centre of a thriving fishing and whaling operation, its lifeline to civilisation was via this non-descript road for over half a century.  It should be noted that minor adjustments were made to this route, the Mark 2 version, which did reduce  its length. However, there was never access to the Fishery along the beach, but only by the overland “Fishery Road“.

Main picture: Map of the Fishery Road

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Jan Hoets: Connected to both Chase and Korsten

While Jan Hoets might not strictly have been a resident of Port Elizabeth , he was closely connected to two residents who were intimately involved in business in Port Elizabeth and who were largely responsible for Port Elizabeth’s initial growth: These prominent citizens were John Centlivres Chase and Frederick Korsten with the latter person being Hoets’ son-in-law. This arose due to his marriage to Korsten’s eldest daughter. Of course marrying a Chase meant that Hoets was also related to the Chases.

By all accounts Hoets was a successful merchant in Cape Town with its more lanquid less frenetic lifestyle. Here the bureaucrat predominated unlike Port Elizabeth which possessed a more energetic business like mien, the very anthesis of Cape Town.

Main picture: Jan Marthinus Hoets, grandson of Jan Hoets, and his wife Arabella Helen Centlivres Chase

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Settler Family called Damant

Most settler parties conformed to the rules of the Emigration Scheme that they would be settled in the frontier districts. Having been stationed at Fort Frederick for seven years prior to the arrival of the 1820 Settlers, Captain Damant had already decided that the Gamtoos valley area would be the new family home.

This is the saga of the Damant family of Hankey

Main picture: A farm in the Gamtoos Valley

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Horse Racing in the Bay

As racing horses is as old as riding these hoofed herbivorous mammals, the exact origins of horse racing are lost in the mists of time. Uitenhage preceded Port Elizabeth in establishing a Turf Club in 1815. However the first authentic records of organised racing give results of racing held in 1817 and include reports of a racing meeting held in the grounds of Cradock Place, the palatial home of Frederick Korsten on the Papenkuils River. Korsten matched his horses with those of the garrison officers from Fort Frederick.  The current Governor, Sir John Cradock, was also a keen racing man and with his support racing naturally flourished.

Main picture: Fairview Race Course 

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Chimneys as a Barometer of Progress

Today chimneys are viewed as a curse and a blight on one’s health and the environment. Unlikely as it now is seen, the filthy black smoke spewing out of these pencil-like structures was once viewed as the epitome of progress, a harbinger of wealth and prosperity.

As well-paying holiday jobs, chimney cleaning was a much-coveted job in the early 1970s when I was “recruited” to clean the chimneys of the Algorax factory at Swartkops. Even a half hour shower did not remove the fine granules from one’s skin pores!

Main picture: Henry Coleman’s steam mills with the first chimney

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: New Brighton – “A Model Native Settlement”

Located between the Papenkuils and the Swartkops Rivers, New Brighton was established inside the Municipal Boundary of Port Elizabeth in 1901 in order to house the black residents of the inner-city locations such as Stranger’s and Gubb Locations’. The White property owners and ratepayers were pressurising the Council to relocate the Black inhabitants of the locations in the inner city area.

This blog will cover the history of New Brighton from this inflection point in the separation of residential areas.  

Main picture: Semi-detached houses erected in New Brighton in 1912

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Korsten – A Subtext for Freedom

Human nature seeks freedom and the best for themselves and their children. It is an innate urge. By now the dismal track record of politically motivated false choices should have been exposed as a chimera. So it was for Korsten. Instead of readily agreeing to their being relocated to the new “model township” of New Brighton, the black residents of the inner-city locations defied the authorities and moved to an unserviced area outside the municipal boundaries called Korsten.

Thus Korsten’s roots are nourished by the natural human desire for freedom.

Main picture: Elkana Street, a respectable area in Korsten where children play happily in the street

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Albany Road formerly Cooper’s Kloof

For me and possibly other Port Elizabethians, the road up Cooper’s Kloof, commonly known as Albany Road, does not have the same prominence or cachet of either Russell or White’s Road. Nevertheless, it does serve as a vital arterial road carrying traffic both to Cape Road and through to Walmer via Target Kloof. 

Main picture: Albany Road in 1865

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