Humewood was a late starter, a slow developer. The focus of the residents of Port Elizabeth was northwards and westwards as the town laid down its industrial roots in North End and its commercial roots in the Main and Strand Street areas. By the 1920s, Humewood had gained a reputation as Port Elizabeth’s playground centred on Humewood Beach and Happy Valley.
Main picture: 1926 photos from the Humewood collection of Sava Michaelides. By then beach attire converted from a formal suit and tie to more relaxed beach wear and informal clothing
Ironically just over a century ago, the puny stream which flowed through Happy Valley was well-known whereas the area through which it flowed, Happy Valley, was unknown to the resident of Port Elizabeth. It was this non-descript trickle which supplied this nascent town with its first piped water albeit that it was only to the low-lying areas as the water was gravity fed. In September 1968, this stream barely a trickle, was transformed into a raging torrent probably about 1 metres deep and 70 metres wide.
From providing a vital commodity it now only serves as an entertainment area. This blog deals with the changing character and importance of this area from necessity to a luxury.
Main picture: Frames’ Reservoir on the Shark River
Most residents of Port Elizabeth are unaware what the purpose of the concrete pillars jutting out of the sand between Hobie and Humewood Beach represent. It was a slipway built in 1903. By the 1850s Algoa Bay was attracting swarms of vessels of all shapes and sizes. Many used the Bay as the location to effect minor repairs before proceeding on their voyage.
It took an entrepreneur by the name of John Centlivres Chase to envisage constructing a slipway in Port Elizabeth to provide this vital service.
Main picture: Humewood 1910 with what appears to be a fishing boat being hauled up for maintenance