By any objective measure, the
first aeronauts – parachutists and ballooners – possessed a death wish. Simply
put, the contraptions and materials that they used to perform their stunts were
below par for the job at hand. Yet these bold experimenters and stuntmen persisted.
Some might say that Stanley Spencer, a world-renowned aeronaut had outlived his
nine lives by the time that he visited Port Elizabeth on Wednesday 2nd
March 1892 and entertained a large crowd at St. George’s Park
Main picture: Professor Price at Market Square in Queenstown
With the imminent arrival of spring, the whole of St. George’s Park will be blossoming.
Perhaps we should spare a thought
for the man who was originally employed to create a park out of a stretch
of veld in the face of
and, for a long
time, no reliable water supply. Established
in 1860, St George’s Park is spread over 73 ha. Today it comprises pristine
wooded parkland and extensive plant collections and specimen trees as well as
various other amenities.
The creator of this splendid
park was a Scot by the name of John Wilson.
Main picture: Pathways in St George’s Park in 1910
Unlike more recent Royal visits,
the visit by the Royal Family to South Africa in 1947 was a full marathon and
not a 100-metre dash. It was a two-month swirl of introductions, photographs,
handshakes, toasts and speeches. Even the vivacious Princess Elizabeth, the
heir apparent, was afforded the opportunity to make a speech, her first. The
two-month long sojourn to a land on the cusp of fundamental change, would include
two days, the 26th & the 27th February 1947, to make
the acquaintance of the peoples of arguably the most English city in South
Africa, Port Elizabeth.
Brigadier Arthur Coy with the Mayor of PE, Mr Neave, inspecting the Ex Servicemen with the King and Queen at Crusaders ground, St. George’s Park in February 1947. The princesses Elizabeth and Margaret were in attendance. There was a garden party in Victoria Park afterwards.
One of Port Elizabeth’s little-known gems is this feature in St George’s Park. Think of Kew Gardens Conservatory – but on a far smaller scale – and you will have an idea of what to expect from the Pearson Conservatory.
Main picture: Interior of the Pearson Conservatory
This article first appeared in the The Heritage Portal Newsletter Number45/2017
Six years after the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality spent R5.5-million renovating the Pearson Conservatory at St George’s Park, the historical building is falling apart, with paint peeling and window frames broken.
Main picture: Peeling paint and broken window frames at the Pearson Conservatory. Picture: Devon Koen
Port Elizabeth is home to a number of memorials which recognise the sacrifice of the men of Port Elizabeth in past wars.
This blog will only cover three of them starting with the least known, the Grey High School war memorial. Then I will cover the memorial of the Prince Alfred Guards and then finally the Cenotaph in St George’s Park.
Main picture: Unveiling of the Prince Alfred Guard’s Memorial