Port Elizabeth of Yore: Lake Farm in Kragga Kamma

Initially the area known as Kragga Kamma stretched all the way from the Van Stadens River to the headwaters of the Baakens River. Included in this vast portion of land was a lake then called Klaas Niemand’s Lake but now renamed Lake Farm. Replenishing the lake is a short feeble stream called grandiosely Klaas Niemand River. Correctly speaking such a lake can be referred to as an “endorheic” lake, id est, that is one with no outflow.

Main picture: Lake Farm. The picture was obviously taken many years ago as the Lake has sadly not looked like this for years.  The probable reason for this is the curtailment of the water flow due to the building of farm dams for their cattle.

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Era of Hunting

Prior to the 20th century, hunting was both a sport and a source of protein. The early explorers and adventurers in the 18th and early 19th century all reported encountering huge herds of elephants and even buffaloes roaming around in the vicinity of Kragga Kamma. By the time of the arrival of the Trekboers in the mid-eighteen century, most of the large game had been exterminated except for a patch near Alexandria.

Now it was the turn of the small game to be decimated all in the name of sport.

Main picture: PE Hunt Club on Willowby Farm, now Glen Hurd, owned by George Parkin

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Motor cycle racing prior to WW2

Prior to WW2, Port Elizabeth hosted a prestigious motorcycle race known as the PE 200. This was the culmination of the development of motor cycle racing since the first race held as a 60 mile relay on the 7th August 1922 on the Kragga Kamma circuit.  

The early engines on the motorcycles were satisfactory for level or downhill riding but as soon as a hill was encountered, the rider had to pedal to assist the bike’s ascent of the hill. But this was only the start of what would ultimately become the power machines of today.

This blog covers the development of motorcycle racing from that date until the Second World War as well as the development of the early bikes.

Main photo: Winners of the PE 200 on 1st January 1958

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Expeditions by Carl Thunberg in the 1770s

Preceding the arrival of the Dutch farmers in Algoa Bay, intrepid adventurers and naturalists were exploring the area. Amongst this band of hardy individuals was a Swedish naturalist, Carl Peter Thunberg, an apostle of Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist, zoologist, and physician who formalised binomial nomenclature, the modern system of naming organisms. Due to Thunberg’s discoveries in the Cape Colony, he has been awarded the sobriquet of “the father of South African botany”.

Of all the observations made by Thunberg during his three-year stay at the Cape Colony, two of them resonate with me but for vastly divergent reasons. This is the story of Thunberg’s brief sojourn in the wilderness that was Port Elizabeth in the 1770s.

Main picture: Carl Peter Thunberg in later life

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