Port Elizabeth of Yore: St. John the Baptist Anglican Church

The suburb now known as Walmer; Port Elizabeth was originally a farm known as Welbedacht. It was loaned to a Johannes Potgieter in 1776 and subsequently granted to a Antonie Michael Muller[1] (B c 1770 married Aletta Maria Potgieter c 1782, died 21 January 1843, Uitenhage who was from Holland). On 24 May 1852, a portion of the farm that was granted to Anthonie Michael Muller in 1815, was divided in one morgan erven by his sons into a township called Walmer. The sons got into financial difficulties, and they decided to sell the farm in lots. Whilst it is not definitely known, a Mr D. MacDonald a Government surveyor probably gave the name. The auctioneers responsible for the sale went bankrupt immediately after the sale and the Muller brothers suffered financial loss thereby although some of the money was recovered in subsequent lawsuits. In 1860, the local newspaper the EP Herald reported tigers (leopards) in the Walmer area. In 1899, Walmer became a municipality. Walmer was named after Walmer Castle, the death place of the First Duke of Wellington 1769-1852.He is buried under the dome of St Pauls Cathedral by the side of another famous Englishman Lord Nelson.

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: St. Paul’s Church

With the town rapidly expanding, the need for a 2nd Anglican Church in Port Elizabeth arose. During an age with neither public transport nor private motor vehicles, churches had to be located within walking distance of their congregants. During both of his visits in 1848 & 1850, Bishop Robert Gray of Cape Town had pointed out the need for a church in North End with a capacity of 200 to 250 congregants to serve the needs of the local Anglicans.

Sunday School was started in 1850, the first services for adults began in 1853, and the laying of the foundation stone of the original church by Bishop John Armstrong took place on18th October 1854. Part of the early ministry of the parish was the establishment of a school in 1861.

This church, he suggested, should be built on land offered by Mr Charles Cooper and Mrs Johanna Korsten, at the foot of Cooper’s Kloof (now Albany Road) on the corner of Main Street (now part of Govan Mbeki Avenue).The building was designed by Sophy Gray, the wife of Bishop Robert Gray; it was consecrated in 1856. Due to the movement of the congregation to new areas, the church was demolished in 1959 and the site sold, a new St Paul’s Church being built in Tucker Street, in the suburb of Parsons Hill, to replace the old one.

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Kragga Kamma-Once an Animal Eden

Up until the late 1700s, this area was teaming with wild game with large herds of elephants abounding. Various explorers and adventurers attested to the fact that this part of the country once boasted incredibly dense populations of most of the species encountered in South Africa. Until recently, none of these animals could be seen in this area anymore. Now, a recently opened game park has put this to rights. Originally the area referred to as Kragga Kamma extended from the Van Stadens River across to the headwatersof the Baakens River.

This blog has been largely based on the Heritage Impact Assessment by Jenny Bennie, the Gazetteer by Logie and Harradine and the assistance of Erica Clark.

Main picture: The focal point of Kragga Kamma is the homestead of Henry Bailey Christian from 1889 to 1892 

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