Port Elizabeth of Yore: Chimneys as a Barometer of Progress

Today chimneys are viewed as a curse and a blight on one’s health and the environment. Unlikely as it now is seen, the filthy black smoke spewing out of these pencil-like structures was once viewed as the epitome of progress, a harbinger of wealth and prosperity.

As well-paying holiday jobs, chimney cleaning was a much-coveted job in the early 1970s when I was “recruited” to clean the chimneys of the Algorax factory at Swartkops. Even a half hour shower did not remove the fine granules from one’s skin pores!

Main picture: Henry Coleman’s steam mills with the first chimney

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