Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Early Hotels

The initial accommodation of the 1820 Settlers left much to be desired: rows of tents in the sand dunes where Strand Street is now located, with Algoa Bay’s incessant wind whipping sand into all the exposed orifices. Some might even have been told shameless falsehoods about their future accommodation to lure them to the Cape. But once they stepped off their vessels, they would have to don the mantle of self-motivating, independent pioneers. The unspoken reality is that they would have to turn a pipe dream of a new life into reality. Perhaps they encountered dispiriting moments, but most would batten down the hatches and endure. 

But what the Colony lacked was proper temporary accommodation in the form of hotels especially for visiting colonial officials. 

With their keen enterprising spirit, many would swiftly erect buildings with more than a passing resemblance to hotels. As Port Elizabeth was the entrepot to the Eastern Cape hinterland and later to the Diamond Fields, it rapidly upgraded these Spartan dwelling into respectable establishments.  

This is the story of that evolution. 

Main picture: Scorey’s Hotel being depicted as the large building on the left with the garden of Anne Scorey just below the hotel

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: John Centlivres Chase – Father of the Eastern Cape

Often spoken of as “the father of the Eastern Cape,” friend and son-in-law of Frederik Korsten, one of Baillie’s Party aboard the Chapman, M.L.A, John Centlivres Chase was one of the prominent and influential settlers of the infant town. 

Despite setting foot initially at Port Elizabeth, Chase’s odyssey would not commence there, but its terminus and swansong would be. 

Main picture: John Centlivres Chase

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Phoenix Hotel

Everybody who has grown up in Port Elizabeth must have been to the Stage Door at some point during their misspent youth. What is fascinating is that the Phoenix Hotel has been in operation since 1837, first in Market Square, and now at 5 Chapel Street, making it the oldest operating hotel in Port Elizabeth.

Main picture: The original Phoenix Hotel located in Market Square

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