Port Elizabeth of Yore: Early Port Elizabeth by Lawrence Green

Baakens Valley in 1860s

Lawrence Green’s book Harbours of Memory sketches what the port cities of South Africa during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century’s were like. It provides a vivid depiction of life in those days. This blog covers excerpts of his musings and prognostications on early Port Elizabeth’s harbour and shipping activities, its different communities, its highways and byways and the characters that inhabit it. 

Main pictures: Baakens Valley in the 1860s

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Harbour Operations before Jetties

Landing through the surf in 1866

Until the 1870s, PE harbour possessed no jetties. By implication, the passengers and cargo had to be transhipped onto tiny surf boats for onward transport to the landing beaches. At the shore, the people were carried ashore on the shoulders of the Mfengus much to the distress of the females. In spite of this clumsy and archaic method of operation, Port Elizabeth rapidly processed more exports than its sister port, Cape Town.

 This blog is a verbatim extract from the unpublished notes of Mr. C.G.H. Skead written in 1939

Main picture: Surf boats in Algoa Bay in the 1860s

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