Of all the jetties in Port Elizabeth, only the North Jetty possessed any cachet. Probably a reason for this situation was that the North Jetty was close to the central part of town being at the foot of Jetty Street.
For this reason hundreds of photographs of this jetty are still extant today whereas only a dozen are available of the South Jetty and perhaps half that number of the Dom Pedro Jetty.
This blog serves to highlight what is known about this jetty
Main picture: South Jetty
The erection of the North Jetty was the second attempt at constructing a jetty in Algoa Bay. The first one had been unceremoniously destroyed in a ferocious gale on the 26th August 1843 when three ships were driven through it. Until the construction of the South and the Dom Pedro jetties almost 30 years later, this small extemporised jetty would serve as the focal point of the harbour.
As it turned out, this temporary jetty would fulfil the starring role as the main jetty until the Charl Malan Quay was built, some 63 years later.
Main picture: An early view of the North Jetty probably from the 1870s
Despite a breakwater being
a critical component of a harbour, Port
Elizabeth was deprived of one until the 1920s. That consigned the unloading of
the ships to be performed in the roadstead, an archaic practice, long since
abandoned by other ports.
The initial attempt at
building a breakwater in 1856 was disastrous as it became unusable due to
silting after the flood in 1867. It would be fifty years before another attempt
would be made to construct the breakwater.
Main picture: Breakwater with the Charl Malan Quay still under