In this context utility refers to the state of being useful and beneficial and has nothing to do with being profitable. In attempting to address this issue, it raises the question of what the purpose of the fortification was and furthermore did it fulfil its objective.
Main picture: Fort Frederick with entertainment areas in the foreground
Historically the arrival of the 1820 Settlers obscures the fact that Algoa Bay, as the outpost was then called, had already been settled; by not many, however. In total there were no more than a dozen farms, but they covered the whole area from Cape Recife to the Gamtoos River and they were occupied by Dutch speaking Afrikaners. Amongst this hardy band of Trek Boers was Thomas Ignatius Ferreira. Of Portuguese extraction, his father is the progenitor of the vast Ferreira family in South Africa.
Ferreira settled in Algoa Bay 44 years prior to the arrival of the 1820 settlers and was banished from the area 17 years before the settlers arrival.
Main picture: 1803 Gesigt van Fort Frederick en Algoa Baai by Willem Bartolome Eduard Paravicini Di Cappelli
Regardless of how and why Captain Evatt came to be stationed there, his civic-minded mien ensured that he would forever be feted as the “Father of Port Elizabeth.”
For that reason he deserves to be recalled and commemorated.
Main picture: Captain Francis Evatt
Comedians like to jest that the shortest book according to the Guinness Book of World Records is about Italian war heroes. Undoubtedly, a book on Port Elizabeth in 1812 would be a close second. This extremely brief blog is a comprehensive description of the area which was yet to be christened Port Elizabeth.
Main picture: A decade before the arrival of the 1820 settlers
It is fair to say that the establishment of Fort Frederick was more a response to political tensions in Europe than to local enmity between Dutch frontiersmen and Xhosa tribesmen. While the later upheavals arose as the vanguard of the Dutch boeren [Afrikaans boere] approached the advancing Xhosa tribesmen, the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789 had plunged the western world into a protracted period of war.
This blog traces the fascinating history of Fort Frederick from its inception until the present time.
Main picture: Fort Frederick dated 12 March 1905
Most of what is nowadays known as the Eastern Province was devoid of whites prior to the arrival of the 1820 Settlers. Notwithstanding that fact, a sprinkling of intrepid Dutch farmers did farm in the area between the Gamtoos River and the Great Fish River. By all accounts, it was a precarious existence at best. Not only were they at the mercy of marauding bands of indigenous tribesmen but they were also in danger from large predatory animals.
In spite of all these clear and present dangers, numerous indomitable adventurers also traversed this treacherous landscape. One such person was Henry Lichtenstein, a German medical doctor and a professor of natural history at the University of Berlin.
This is his story as recorded in his book entitled Travels in Southern Africa in the years 1803, 1804, 1805 & 1806.
Main picture: Henry Lichtenstein
Spare a thought for explorers, adventurers and soldiers of the nineteenth century. Nothing today comes close to their sense of isolation from their family and friends as these intrepid souls departed from their hometowns. It is reasonable to assume that the departing spouse was virtually non-contactable from the moment that they sailed away.
One such character was Jacob Glen Cuyler who would arrive in South Africa via an extremely circuitous route. He become an important character and play a prominent role in the settlement of the British Settlers in the Eastern Cape.
His assistance to the arriving settlers is commemorated in a street adjacent to Fort Frederick, known as Cuyler Crescent and which becomes Cuyler Street as it heads inland.
Main picture: Captain Jacob Glen Cuyler