In tracing the arc of the development of the schooling system in Port Elizabeth, one rapidly focuses on the first school of significance: The Grey Institute on the Hill. Ultimately the precursor for the more spacious Grey High School situated in Mill Park, the Grey Institute laid the foundation for this venerable institution.
In order to fully operationalise their vision of having a central “campus” with outlying feeder schools, would take twenty tumultuous years. Finally, by placing the organisation of the school under the microscope, it reveals an educational system diametrically opposed in many ways to the present method of operation and its attendant rules and regulations.
Main picture: An early photograph of the Grey Institute in Belmont Terrace before the clock tower was added in 1875
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
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”
Port Elizabeth periodically experiences floods. Amongst the most devastating was the flood from Tuesday 19th November to Thursday 21st November 1867. During 11 hours on the Wednesday and Thursday, 161.5 millimetres of rain fell bringing the total for the three days to 225.5 millimetres. While only two lives were lost, damage to roads and houses was estimated to be as much as £30,000.
Perhaps its effect was exacerbated by the fact that the roads were not tarred and the flood waters gushed down the natural water courses, formally kloofs or streams, causing mayhem. But the most catastrophic effect was the silting up of the harbour. As a consequence, the recently completed breakwater had to be demolished.
Main picture: Rudolph Street, South End after the floods of November 1867
South End has experienced a tumultuous past. From devastating floods in 1867 to the destruction of a culturally diverse community through forced removals in terms of the Group Areas Act in the 1960s, South End has experienced it all.
The focus of this blog is the early beginnings when the Baakens River isolated South End from Port Elizabeth and its subsequent transformation from a huge farm into a residential area.
Main picture: Port Elizabeth from an agrarian South End in 1830