Port Elizabeth of Yore: Colchester – A Promise never Realised

In 1854 an enthusiastic scheme was started to build a rival port to Port Elizabeth. The Eastern Province Herald of the 6th June 1854 carried details of a prospectus issued by a Port Elizabeth firm offering sites for sale at Colchester located at the mouth of the Sunday’s River.

Main picture: Colchester

The plan for the town envisaged 60 large erven, main streets 120 feet wide [36.5 metres], a court house, a customs house, four churches and a market square. The engineer in charge estimated that the mouth of the river could be opened up for a mere £20,000 and berthing facilities could be constructed 20 miles [32.2 kms]. It was estimated that 300 ships could be berthed at a time. The sale of erven actually occurred in the Commercial Hall opposite St. Mary’s Church on the 21st September 1854.

Looking at the peaceful setting of this rural idyll, one wonders what went wrong with the grandiose scheme. Nonetheless, would not this tranquil picture-perfect area have been defiled like so many other places.

Methinks, it was better left as a dream deferred


The City of Colchester (South Africa) by Khitab (Looking Back, Volume VI, No. 1, 1966)

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