Port Elizabeth of Yore: Roads and Inland Transport from the 1820s to 1860s

The success of Port Elizabeth has always been determined by its transport links to the interior. Initially it was the port from which the bulk of the Cape Colony’s wool was exported and then in the first half of the 20th century it was the port through which all cars assembled in South Africa were imported. Before the introduction of rail services in the 1870s, inland transport was dependent upon the state of the roads which were execrable. Secondly the condition of the  roads impeded the exports in that it took three months for an ox wagon to complete a round trip from Graaff Reinet to Port Elizabeth and back.

Main picture: Typical old Divisional Council roads, narrow and rutted, with a drift below and ox wagons toiling up the hill

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