Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Grey Institute – The Tumultuous First Three Decades

In tracing the arc of the development of the schooling system in Port Elizabeth, one rapidly focuses on the first school of significance: The Grey Institute on the Hill. Ultimately the precursor for the more spacious Grey High School situated in Mill Park, the Grey Institute laid the foundation for this venerable institution.

In order to fully operationalise their vision of having a central “campus” with outlying feeder schools, would take twenty tumultuous years. Finally, by placing the organisation of the school under the microscope, it reveals an educational system diametrically opposed in many ways to the present method of operation and its attendant rules and regulations.

Main picture: An early photograph of the Grey Institute in Belmont Terrace before the clock tower was added in 1875

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Early Port Elizabeth by Lawrence Green

Lawrence Green’s book Harbours of Memory sketches what the port cities of South Africa during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century’s were like. It provides a vivid depiction of life in those days. This blog covers excerpts of his musings and prognostications on early Port Elizabeth’s harbour and shipping activities, its different communities, its highways and byways and the characters that inhabit it. 

Main pictures: Baakens Valley in the 1860s

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Birth of South End

South End has experienced a tumultuous past. From devastating floods in 1867 to the destruction of a culturally diverse community through forced removals in terms of the Group Areas Act  in the 1960s, South End has experienced it all. 

The focus of this blog is the early beginnings when the Baakens River isolated South End from Port Elizabeth and its subsequent transformation from a huge farm into a residential area. 

Main picture: Port Elizabeth from an agrarian South End in 1830

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Malay Population of Port Elizabeth

One misconception about the Malays in South Africa concerns the nomenclature “Malay.” In fact they originate from Indonesia. However, for simplicity’s sake, we will continue to use the word Malay for the purposes of this chapter. Another erroneous notion is that Malay population only arrived after the British settlers. 

This chapter rebuts these fallacies.  It also reveals the important role the Malays played in the development of Port Elizabeth. 

Main picture: The Green or Pier Street Mosque

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