Port Elizabeth of Yore: Robert Pinchin: The Engineering Juggernaut

Robert Pinchin should be remembered for his contribution to the development of Port Elizabeth and the water supply in particular. In 1862 he wrote a treatise advocating the Van Stadens Water Scheme. It was only after more than a decade of prevarication that the Town Council acted upon his recommendation. Moreover he was involved in engineering in all its manifestaions. Ironically what he is remembered for is his ascent of the Cockscomb peak in April 1870.

Main picture: Baakens Street. 1862. The house centre right is on the land granted on 1 Oct 1821 to D.A.C.G. John Craig. At the end of 1826 he sold the land with a stone house. The house became the property of Capt. John Burton, then his widow Mary, who married Thomas Henry Martyn. Mary Ann Burton then married Robert Pinchin, and after her death he and their daughter lived here with his mother-in-law – hence Pinchin Lane. It was sold to Mangold Bros. in July 1879 for their foundry, and they demolished it in 1882 for stores.

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Ructions with Uitenhage over Water

By the 1860s the public’s demand for a reliable and adequate supply of water was vocal and persistent. In 1866 the Council mandated a Committee to investigate whether the flow rate from the van Stadens River would suffice for the town’s water need. In spite of clearing all the hurdles, the Council prevaricated. In 1874 it announced a new ploy: purloin Uitenhage’s supply. What’s not to like about that suggestion?    

Main picture: Aerial photograph of the Nine Eyes of the Uitenhage Springs [Bob Binnell]

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Van Stadens River Mouth & Estuary

Located half way between Port Elizabeth and Jeffreys Bay, the Van Stadens River mouth has always been a place where the denizens of Port Elizabeth could relax away from the hurly-burly and bustle of Port Elizabeth. Initially the holiday makers would have to bring everything with them – from the pots and pans to the canvas roof over their heads – on their carts and wagons. 

Today, it sports rondawels, chalets and facilities to cater for all one’s needs. But its attraction is its beauty and tranquillity with miles of sand dunes in both directions

Main picture: Van Stadens Mouth from Cadles in 1870 by Sarah Holland, the earliest drawing of Van Stadens

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