Port Elizabeth of Yore: Pinchin’s Ascent of the Cockscomb

Robert Pinchin was born in England in 1824 and died in Port Elizabeth on the 9th May 1888 at the young age of 64 probably due to overwork. He arrived in Port Elizabeth from London in 1849, marrying Mary Ann Burton on the 13th September 185., Pinchin was a land surveyor, civil engineer and architect from the end of 1849. During the period 1863 to 1868, Pinchin was in partnership with G.W. Smith. Pinchin laid out much of the first streets and properties in Central, Port Elizabeth and became a respected consultant. Robert negotiated a supply of water from the Shark River Co. to the municipality. In 1881, G.W. Smith again joined Pinchin in partnership, at Port Elizabeth, and on Pinchin’s death in 1888, took over the practice.

Pinchin’s interests were astronomy and geology. In 1862 he released his treatise in which he advocated the construction of the Van Stadens Water Scheme which would alleviate the water supply difficulties of Port Elizabeth which did not yet possess domestic plumbing. In 1870 Robert led a party which climbed the Cockscomb Peak and hence would be the 3rd successful party to do so as far as they were aware. Pinchin lived with his daughter in his mother-in-law’s house in Baakens Street and then in 1877 built a house in Park Drive. 

The Story of Pinchin’s Ascent

This narrative has been largely based upon the report that Pinchin drafted for the Herald and was published on the 20th April 1870.  Excluded are irrelevant comments and minor adjustments have been made to spellings and flow of sentences. Long sentences have also been truncated to enhance readability. Apart from these changes, the narrative is true to Pinchin’s original article in the Herald. 

Main picture: Cockscomb Peak from the north

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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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