Class of 1971: What did they do after school?

This blog was written by the pupils of the Class of 1971 themselves. It would be great to hear from everybody. Two photos of Then and Now would also be super. There are no rules about how much or how little you would like to share or indeed what you would to include. The latest submissions will be included at the top of the blog thereby making the unread entries at the top of the blog.  

Main picture: Montage of Class of ’71’s Assembly & Service Program as well as the Valedictory Address and Signatures [Thanks to Sonia Slement (Venter)]

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Commissariat Building

In military parlance, the Commissariat is the department for the supply of food and equipment. Being a resupply point during the Frontier Wars, a Commissariat had to be established in Port Elizabeth. Initially the military rented premises in the town but in 1837 they constructed their own buildings.

Main picture: In the foreground is washed wool being dried. Main buildings in the area are annotated

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Alex of Yore: Bob Welsh – One of the Originals

In the photograph of the original staff of Alexander Road High School, is the visage of the lanky teacher of Geography, Bob Welsh in the front row. Bob never demanded respect from his pupils but rather he earned it. In many ways Bob was a more progressive teacher and the antithesis of certain senior teachers at the time. By evoking an interest in the subject, pupils responded in a like manner enabling Bob to teach with a light touch seldom if ever submitted the pupils to tirades of screaming.   

That is my enduring memory of Bob Welsh, a kind and gentle man, never given to histrionics.

Main picture: Alex staff members in 1956 [front row 2nd from left]

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Disparate Uses of the Feathermarket Hall over the Years

This iconic building has served multiple disparate roles since its opening in 1885. During the 1970s, I watched the bands Freedom’s Children and the Troggs in action here. In 1993, the original building was extensively renovated and in keeping with this facelift, it was renamed The Feather Market Centre.

Below is a selection of several disparate uses of this building from the early years of its existence.

Main picture: Ostrich feathers being viewed prior to the auction

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Where was the Commercial Hotel located?

On the various Facebook sites related to Port Elizabeth, it is always stated that this well-known hotel from the latter half of the 19th century was situated on the corner of Russell Road yet none of the photographs of that corner actually show this hotel where it is alleged to be located.

After gnawing at him, and with his unpaid job on the line, the Technical Editor made a breakthrough at 4am this morning 18th April 2021. Unlike Archimedes’ Eureka moment, he was not lying in a bath of hot water, Blaine was lying in a hot bed. Neither did he break curfew and run naked through the streets of Plumstead disturbing everyone (and we are not talking about him shouting “EUREKA!” either. It could also have been called a lightbulb moment, but given the vagaries of Eskom, this is a rare event nowadays.

Moreover, why did this misunderstanding arise?

Main picture: Steinmann’s Commercial Hotel

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: In the Era of the 1837 Royal Engineer’s Map

What can be learned from examining a map in detail? Plenty. But in this case not so much. Being a military map, it does not include all the non-military buildings. This does have an advantage as it eliminates all the clutter. Hence it provides an overall perspective

Main picture: The complete 1837 military map of Port Elizabeth as drawn by the Royal Engineers

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Was the Second Fortification Pointless?

During the first British occupation of the Cape, the puny settlement at Algoa Bay found itself threatened by raiding Xhosa & khoikhoi warriors. For defence, the British soldiers constructed an extemporised fortification known as Star Fort on the Ferreira River [today’s Papenkuils River]. This inexpensive fort dug in the shape of a star around Thomas Ferreira’s house, would act as the settlement’s first fortification.

With the imminent threat to the settlement, comprising mainly wattle and daub huts around the mouth of the Baakens River, a more substantial redoubt was required. To meet this exigency, shortly thereafter a blockhouse was constructed by the Royal Engineers at the drift across the Baakens Lagoon, now sadly no more. This would be Port Elizabeth’s second fortification but did it ever serve a useful purpose or was it ill-designed and located for the task at hand?

Main picture: 1803 Gesigt van Fort Frederick en Algoa Baai, Willem Bartolome Eduard Paravicini Di Cappelli, H103

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Development of the Hinterland by 1806

As the Trek Boere moved ever eastward during the 1700s, the eastern boundary of the Cape Colony was itself relocated to the next large river. Initially in the 1700s the area surrounding the future town of Port Elizabeth was simply known as Algoa Bay which fell under the large district known as Graaff Reinet. In early 1800s, this district was bifurcated with the southern portion being called Uitenhage after the town established in 1804.

Surprisingly even though Uitenhage was the seventh district to be established, within three decades after being populated by the Trek Boere, it had achieved a sizable heft in certain aspects.

This surprising situation is illustrated various tables shown in Theal’s Records of the Cape Colony.

Main picture: Districts of the Cape Colony in 1806

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