When the elements defeat ingenuity and determination
The first practical scheme to improve Port Elizabeth’s harbour facilities was mooted barely ten years after the arrival of the 1820 Settlers. This reflects the stunning growth of Port Elizabeth as a harbour. Notwithstanding the determination of the local residents, politics and other considerations would intrude to prevent the hopes and aspirations of this dream being realised.
Nine years after being mooted in 1831, construction of the First Jetty commenced in 1840. The maxim, “The past we inherit and the future we create,” was now validated. This blog covers the cycle of this project from its initial conceptualisation to its unfortunate, untimely and unexpected destruction in 1843.
Main picture: The first jetty
Officially Hobie Beach is called
Shark Rock Beach. But even that name is incorrect for two reasons which will
shortly be explained. Notwithstanding the fact that the origin of the name and
its derivation is inaccurately attributed, why would the sailors in their billowing
Hobie Cats, the gaily coloured visitors on the Shark Rock Pier or the
sun-blistered sun tanners on the golden beach care about such historical inaccuracies?
Of course, they don’t care a fig! But I do. Because I am interested in history but not to needlessly pick an unwinnable verbal brawl.
This is the saga both of the naming of this area from a misnomer to a sobriquet to uncovering its long-lost use prior to the establishment of posh suburbs in the area and the construction of the Shark Rock Pier.
Main picture: This is the oldest extant photograph of the mouth of Shark River with Hobie Beach on the tight
Of all the historical buildings that Port Elizabeth has unconscionably lost, this one perhaps rates as the most significant. On the threshold of the arrival of the 1820 Settlers, a Dutch immigrant by the name of Frederick Korsten, had made his mark prior to the establishment of Port Elizabeth. Perhaps for this reason alone, aside from any architectural merits of the buildings, these deserved to have been preserved for posterity.
This blog comprises two sections. Firstly it briefly sketches the journey undertaken by Korsten to arrive at Algoa Bay and what he did whilest in Port Elizabeth. In the second section, it provides an account by the final tenant of this property. He gives an insight into the treasures that were hidden therein. Finally the real reason for its reprehensible destruction are revealed.
Main picture: Cradock Place
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
Of all the early inhabitants of the nascent Port Elizabeth, Frederick Korsten, probably more than anyone else, deserves to be recognised and remembered. Yet there is no real tribute to him. The most fitting monument would have been the preservation of his former magnificent home, Cradock Place. But even that now lies in ruins.
A comprehensive biography would have sufficed. But that also failed to materialise. John Centlivres Chase did make an attempt in 1868, yet in length it is little more than a eulogy. What he fails to mention or even allude to is that Frederick Korsten was his father-in-law. Nor does he provide any insights into what exactly made Korsten tick.
Such disdain for history reflects poorly on the denizens of Algoa Bay.
Main picture: Frederick Korsten
Port Elizabeth is fortunate in having somebody who prepared a list of its inhabitants at the inception of the town itself. Without a functioning civil authority, nothing is recorded, let alone a population register.
This blog lists Port Elizabeth’s inhabitants in 1822 together with a biographical sketch of some of them.
Main picture: Port Elizabeth in 1823