Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Size of the North Jetty

North Jetty served as the principal jetty of the Port Elizabeth harbour from 1870 to the early 1930s. A quick view of this jetty reveals a minute useable working area supported by 10 cranes. How did this jetty handle all the passenger cargo especially during the first 3 decades of the 20th century and how does its size compare with that of a modern ship tied up alongside it?

Main picture: The North Jetty circa 1908

I am unable to answer the first self posed question but am able to provide some perspective on the second question.

In order to obtain a clear measure of the jetty’s size or lack thereof, I commissioned my brother, the technical editor, to draw a modern ship alongside this quay. This is the result.

Queen Mary 2 compared to the North Jetty. Note that the useable length of the jetty is approximately 60% of its length. [Drawn by Blaine McCleland]

In other words, prior to the completion of the Charl Malan quay, no vessel of any consequence could berth at the North Jetty

However they probably were able to use the South or the Dom Pedro Jetties instead. Nonetheless, the Port Elizabeth harbour was indubitably incapable of handling large vessels.

Leave a Comment.