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: The Beach at North End

The wide sandy beaches that once spread from the North Jetty, next to the landing beach, and continued all the way past the mouth of the Papenkuils River have long since been destroyed by progress. In this case its nemesis was the dual events being the advent of the railways and the harbour works. In essence, the desecration of this natural wonder was due to two man-made causes. The hinderance in the flow of sand due to the harbour works, resulting in the erosion of the beach, allowed the railways authorities to obtain the right to use these once pristine beaches for the laying of additional railway tracks. This option suited their purposes as it was cheaper than the expropriation of buildings close to the shore on which to lay these tracks.

In old reports the curve of the Bay towards North End is often referred to as the “bight”, an Old English word.

Main picture   North Beach, North End 1927

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Reminiscences of the Early Days

These are excerpts from the notes of Mr. C.G.H. Skead on the early days in Port Elizabeth written in 1939. They provide a personal view of the various activities and the development of shipping at that time. As he was born in 1871, these reminiscences probably relate to the period 1890 to the 1920s. 

Main picture: Park Drive when it was considered to be “outside the Bay”

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