By virtue of the town still being so small twenty-three years after its establishment, it was still possible to print a comprehensive list of all its officials and residents. The List of Town Officials was published in 1843 whereas that of all Town Residents was published in 1849.
What do they reveal?
Main picture: Port Elizabeth in 1840
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
Providing part of the cosmopolitan mix at South End was the Chinese community. Their status in South Africa of Yore was ambivalent; not black enough yet not white. This is their story in Port Elizabeth.
Main picture: Chinese School in North End
Even though technically not a “son” of Port Elizabeth, having been born in Aberdeen in Scotland, John Paterson’s influence on Port Elizabeth was profound. Amongst his numerous achievements was the establishment of the Eastern Province Herald, now called simply The Herald.
Main picture: John Paterson
Lawrence Green’s book Harbours of Memory sketches what the port cities of South Africa during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century’s were like. It provides a vivid depiction of life in those days. This blog covers excerpts of his musings and prognostications on early Port Elizabeth’s harbour and shipping activities, its different communities, its highways and byways and the characters that inhabit it.
Main pictures: Baakens Valley in the 1860s
Over the 19th and 20th September 1854, the residents of Port Elizabeth had front row seats as the three masted wooden transport ship, the Charlotte struck rocks at the bottom of Jetty Street during a gale and was wrecked at North End.
Main picture: The Charlotte being battered by the wind and the waves
These are excerpts from the notes of Mr. C.G.H. Skead on the early days in Port Elizabeth written in 1939. They provide a personal view of the various activities and the development of shipping at that time. As he was born in 1871, these reminiscences probably relate to the period 1890 to the 1920s.
Main picture: Park Drive when it was considered to be “outside the Bay”
These are excerpts from the notes of Mr. C.G.H. Skead on the early days in Port Elizabeth written in 1939. They provide a personal view of the various activities at the harbour and the development of shipping at that time.
These recollections take one back to a bygone era when life was simpler. Imagine still being able to swim on a splendid beach at the foot of Fleming Street.
Main picture: North Jetty with the Station in the background
Until the 1870s, PE harbour possessed no jetties. By implication, the passengers and cargo had to be transhipped onto tiny surf boats for onward transport to the landing beaches. At the shore, the people were carried ashore on the shoulders of the Mfengus much to the distress of the females. In spite of this clumsy and archaic method of operation, Port Elizabeth rapidly processed more exports than its sister port, Cape Town.
This blog is a verbatim extract from the unpublished notes of Mr. C.G.H. Skead written in 1939
Main picture: Surf boats in Algoa Bay in the 1860s
We have all heard about the strong possibility that San Francisco could experience more devastating earth quakes but how many residents of Port Elizabeth are aware that the city has three ancient fault lines under its surface from which some slight movements can still occur?
Main picture: Fault lines in Target Kloof