Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Telegraph and Telephones

With the advent of these two innovations, the speed of communication surged by leaps and bounds. The first to make its mark was the telegraph in 1861 which enabled long distance communication for the first time albeit in written form. However, it was only in 1882 that the telephone was introduced to the residents of Port Elizabeth.

Main picture: First telephone exchange switchboard in Port Elizabeth, 1882

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Adolf Schauder

Adolph Schauder is one of a number of residents who have played a pivotal role in Port Elizabeth’s development but foremost amongst the Jewish community’s contribition was Adolph Schauder who, despite being an immigrant, was instrumental in the provision of housing for its underclass and indigent population. 

Main picture: Councillor Adolph Schauder turning the first sod of the slum eradication scheme at New Brighton on the 21st November 1937

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: How Trams and Cabs Operated in the Late 1800s

Much like the current tensions between Uber and the Metered Taxis embroiling the taxi industry, likewise there was a similar tense relationship in 1873 between the various modes of transport and operators with shysters and hucksters prevalent. In this era the antagonists were the omnibuses or horse-drawn trams, hackney carriages and cabs with the latest technology being the omnibus. 

To regulate the operations of the various modes of transport, the Municipality drafted a set of Regulations and gazetted them on the 29th July 1873.  

Main picture: Cabs in front of the obelisk

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Memoirs of James Alexander on the 1835 Frontier War

Having obtained a commission from the Royal Geographical Society to explore and investigate Africa west of Delagoa Bay, James Edward Alexander was thrust into the Kafkaesque world of the 1835 Frontier War for which he might not have purchased front row seats, but they were not the cheap seats from which the action is barely visible. Port Elizabeth itself might not have been engulfed in the war but the hordes of African warriors knocked on its front door, the Zwartkops River.

This blog details the defence lines constructed, military plans drawn up and other martial actions undertaken

Main picture: Port Elizabeth’s Defence Lines during the 1835 Frontier War

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Canicide and the Rabies Epidemic of 1893

Over a period of several decades, the dog had been transformed from an animal into a pet, a mongrel into a pure-bred. Thus, the threat of mass canicide to obviate the menace of rabies in 1893 was met with implacable opposition by these canine owners. By the time that the harsh restrictions such as muzzling and tethering were relaxed in December 1893, 1,917 dogs had been destroyed and one human died, Lydia Gates. 

Yet again, class played a prominent role in how the epidemic was dealt with. 

Main picture: Prize dogs in Port Elizabeth in 1895 Continue reading

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Early Black Settlements Part 3

By the 1890s, Port Elizabeth Port Elizabeth possessed four Locations: Strangers’ Location off Mount Road, Cooper’s Location off Albany Road, the Reservoir Location off Mount Road and Gubb’s Location in Mill Park. Despite immense pressure from white residents to relocate the residents to Locations further from white residential areas, this had never materialised mainly due to inertia and cost. 

Events after the turn of the century would ultimately witness the actualisation of these dreams and the clearing of the original western Locations. 

Main picture: Burning of huts in Stranger’s Location in 1903

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