Port Elizabeth of Yore: Daredevils of Ballooning and Parachuting

By any objective measure, the first aeronauts – parachutists and ballooners – possessed a death wish. Simply put, the contraptions and materials that they used to perform their stunts were below par for the job at hand. Yet these bold experimenters and stuntmen persisted. Some might say that Stanley Spencer, a world-renowned aeronaut had outlived his nine lives by the time that he visited Port Elizabeth on Wednesday 2nd March 1892 and entertained a large crowd at St. George’s Park

Main picture: Professor Price at Market Square in Queenstown

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: St George’s Park, its Creator and its Facilities

With the imminent arrival of spring, the whole of St. George’s Park will be blossoming. Perhaps we should spare a thought for the man who was originally employed to create a park out of a stretch of veld in the face of winds, drought and, for a long time, no reliable water supply. Established in 1860, St George’s Park is spread over 73 ha. Today it comprises pristine wooded parkland and extensive plant collections and specimen trees as well as various other amenities.

The creator of this splendid park was a Scot by the name of John Wilson.

Main picture: Pathways in St George’s Park in 1910

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Port of Elizabeth: Royal Visit of 1947

Unlike more recent Royal visits, the visit by the Royal Family to South Africa in 1947 was a full marathon and not a 100-metre dash. It was a two-month swirl of introductions, photographs, handshakes, toasts and speeches. Even the vivacious Princess Elizabeth, the heir apparent, was afforded the opportunity to make a speech, her first. The two-month long sojourn to a land on the cusp of fundamental change, would include two days, the 26th & the 27th February 1947, to make the acquaintance of the peoples of arguably the most English city in South Africa, Port Elizabeth.

Main picture:
Brigadier Arthur Coy with the Mayor of PE, Mr Neave, inspecting the Ex Servicemen with the King and Queen at Crusaders ground, St. George’s Park in February 1947. The princesses Elizabeth and Margaret were in attendance. There was a garden party in Victoria Park afterwards.

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Saga of the Market Square Obelisk

Originally intended by John Paterson as a tombstone to his business partner and friend, George Kemp, but when rejected as inappropriate by Kemp’s family, it was salvaged and placed in Market Square where it majestically stood for 58 years. Instead of connoting its initial conflicted sepulchral/royal origins, it should have been dedicated to Paterson himself, who could, if you will, be characterised as Port Elizabeth’s greatest son.

This is the story of that saga.

Main picture: The obelisk with its prominent position in Market Square

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Pearson Conservatory in decay despite upgrade

This article first appeared in the The Heritage Portal Newsletter Number45/2017

Six years after the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality spent R5.5-million renovating the Pearson Conservatory at St George’s Park, the historical building is falling apart, with paint peeling and window frames broken.

Main picture: Peeling paint and broken window frames at the Pearson Conservatory. Picture: Devon Koen

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Memorials to the Fallen in War

Port Elizabeth is home to a number of memorials which recognise the sacrifice of the men of Port Elizabeth in past wars. 

This blog will only cover three of them starting with the least known, the Grey High School war memorial. Then I will cover the memorial of the Prince Alfred Guards and then finally the Cenotaph in St George’s Park. 

Main picture: Unveiling of the Prince Alfred Guard’s Memorial

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