Port Elizabeth of Yore: Uitenhage enters the Industrial Age

By 1806, two years after the town of Uitenhage was founded, the districts of Uitenhage and Graaff Reinet possessed 72.9% of the sheep in South Africa. With only 19.2% of the Cape’s population, and 60.4 head of sheep per person in these districts, one has two wonder why this anomaly arose. It would take another 20 years after the establishment of Port Elizabeth in 1820 before the export of wool would make sheep breeding a profitable undertaking. It is these exports which would provide the impetus for the creation of wool processing industries in both Uitenhage and Port Elizabeth.

Main picture: Springfield – One of the first woolwasheries in Uitenhage

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Chimneys as a Barometer of Progress

Today chimneys are viewed as a curse and a blight on one’s health and the environment. Unlikely as it now is seen, the filthy black smoke spewing out of these pencil-like structures was once viewed as the epitome of progress, a harbinger of wealth and prosperity.

As well-paying holiday jobs, chimney cleaning was a much-coveted job in the early 1970s when I was “recruited” to clean the chimneys of the Algorax factory at Swartkops. Even a half hour shower did not remove the fine granules from one’s skin pores!

Main picture: Henry Coleman’s steam mills with the first chimney

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