Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A dark cloud hangs over the Donkin

One of the iconic PE landmarks is this terrace in Donkin Hill, built in the early 1800's. This photo was taken recently. Below is one taken several years ago, so that you can compare, and see what has become of these stunning old houses.

Sadly, they have become dilapidated and are deteriorating daily.

This terrace is one of the earliest in Port Elizabeth, and when people think of this town, is one of the defining images that comes to mind. It is a National Monument, and in the 80s, was lovingly restored. We visited one that belonged to an aquaintance at the time, and were captivated by the wide hand hewn yellowwood floorboards and beams. Sadly these magic little cottages have gone the way of many of our heritage buildings, and fallen into the hands of an owner who has not maintained them.

Although laws are in place to protect heritage sites such as this from uncaring property developers, they have so far not been enforced, and the level of decay may, in some cases, already be beyond the point of no return. It is a disgrace that the municipality is allowing this situation to persist!

There are moves to give sharper teeth to the by-laws, and we can only hope that there is the will and capacity within our Municipality to bite back in these situations. Until then.... the cloud hovers.


  1. I drove past them last week and remembered a school walking trip we went on in primary school (25 years ago) around that area and how beautiful it was. I doubt teachers take walking trips with pupils there any more.

  2. Greed and politics. Or is it greedy politicians?

    The deterioration is apparent, yes. They probably look even worse in person.

    The cottages are occupied, yes?

  3. Pamela, interesting about the school trip.... i'm sure you are right, they are unlikely to go there now. When we took these photos, we went together, and one of us held the pepper spray canister and kept watch while the other took turns to photograph the terrace, memorial, grey institute and Edward Hotel, all of which we will feature in due course.

    Fenix, yes, sadly most are inhabited by illegal immigrants who have problems of their own and care very little for anything to do with our heritage!

  4. I find it so sad and frustrating when this is allowed to happen. It wouldn't surprise me if the "family ties" are part of the problem.