Port Elizabeth of Yore: Periodic Visitations by the Irascible Rain God

Port Elizabeth has had the misfortune to suffer from periodic devastating floods. Our ancient forefathers would have attributed this to displeasing the Gods in some way or the other, normally by being sinful. With the benefit of science, this phenomenon can surely be attributed to the fact that Port Elizabeth is at the confluence of two weather systems, periodically introducing extreme weather. As the most devastating floods, as well as many of the worst south-easters, occurred during the three months September to November, it can safely be assumed that weather patterns as opposed to vexatious gods, is the culprit for this flooding. 

This blog only covers the significant floods until November 1908. 

Main picture: Repairs after the 1908 floods

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Main Street in the Tram Era

Sixty one years after the landing of the 1820 Settlers, the tramway network was established on 14th May 1881. As the initial trams were all horse drawn, no routes up the hill could be established. Instead the line followed the route of Main Street and its various extensions to North End. From 16th June 1897, it was converted to electrical power which allowed the routes to be extended up White’s and Russell Road. 

The tramway network was finally closed down on 17th December 1948. 

Main picture: My favourite picture of this era showing a horse drawn tram at the terminus where the incoming and outgoing lines merged

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Horse Drawn Trams

Horse drawn trams possessed manifold limitations foremost amongst them was the fact that the CBD has been built at the foot of an imposing hill which was impassable for these vehicles. Notwithstanding this, the Port Elizabeth tramway network was opened on 14 May 1881 operating with the available technology: horse-cars.

Main picture: A one horsepower Port Elizabeth tram in the 1880s. They were not suitable for hilly terrain such as Whites Road.

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