Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Donkin from the harbour

While we were visiting the beautiful ship Sagres, this unusual view of the Donkin Lighthouse presented itself, seen at sunset through an old metal warehouse structure.

Monday, September 29, 2008


Along with many other locals, we visited the beautiful tall ship Sagres at the harbour over the weekend. To see a whole bunch of pix of her, from all angles, go to sue's blog.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

On the verge of.....

.... the road.
One thing we love about PE is the variety. I mean within a week, you can drive down Target Kloof and see wild dassies grazing happily at the side of the road, oblivious to the cars whizzing by. Then you can go on a neighbourhood watch patrol in Central and see a drug deal going down. (OK, variety means it's not all good!) In Parliament street you see all sorts of chaos, but it is good chaos because the street is undergoing a major upgrade, and finally you go down William Moffat Expressway, and see the middelmannetjie (centre island for those of you who are not familiar with Afrikaans!) covered with a springtime explosion of indigenous flowers!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Portuguese Visitor....

Across the bay, seen from Richmond Hill, with the old Milling Building in the foreground.

waiting across the bay, before entering the harbour. note the oyster beds in the foreground.

We are delighted to have the Portuguese Navy training tall ship Sagres in port this weekend! If you are in Port Elizabeth, you can board her at Quay 2 on Saturday from 2-6pm and 8-10pm, and on Sunday and Monday from 10am to 12 noon, 2-6pm and 8-10pm. One of our fellow City Daily Photo bloggers is a sailing fanatic called Sailor Girl, who lives in Lisbon. She has featured this ship many times, and has some beautiful photos on her blog, here and here, and a wonderful one of Sagres under full sail here.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Sunrise over St Phillips Church

Richmond Hill is a great place to enjoy the sunrise, and this old church makes a particularly attractive foreground.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Then and Now, post office and city hall

Another of the wonderful vintage postcards sent to us by John from UK, and the same view taken recently.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

heritage day

Today is national heritage day, which obviously, in our rainbow nation, means different things to different people. From the Port Elizabeth point of view, we thought it might be apt to revisit the oldest built structure remaining here, Fort Frederick, which we featured recently.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

grey institute

This is the Grey Institute, seen from the Donkin Reserve. The tree in the foreground is one of the indigenous beauties that thrive in this area, Erythrina Caffra, the Coral Tree.

The foundation stone of the Grey Institute was laid on 17th January 1856. It was named after Sir George Grey, Governor of the Cape Colony. It was the forerunner of the present Grey Schools in Mill Park. The buildings are currently being meticulously restored.

Here is how the area looked in 1869....

Monday, September 22, 2008

Relic from the past

The enterance to the Walmer Town Hall on Main Road Walmer is a reminder of a by-gone era. The hall was built in 1908, when Walmer was still a separate town and municipality. It has long since been incorporated as a suburb of Port Elizabeth.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Wildlife at the Boardwalk

A pair of Egyptian Geese have made their home at the Boardwalk Casino complex and can be seen here paddling across the lake with their three goslings.
For more pictures go to The Max Files

Saturday, September 20, 2008

then and now, Cape Road

In the past, the main road to Cape Town lead up the hill from the City Centre, through what was a rocky gorge called Hyman's Kloof, until Russell Road was built through it. At this point it turns towards the West, and flattens out to become one of the major arterial routes through to the Western Suburbs, and eventually Cape Town. (Although, these days, few people would go that way, as there is a freeway leading West as well.) As you can see, it is a 4 lane dual carriageway, and this section at the top of Russell Road is bounded by high rise apartment buildings amongst the old historic homes.

But, as you can see from this postcard kindly sent by John Unsworth, in the early days, it was much narrower, and had a tram service running up and down the hill to the City Centre.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Now and then again....

Again, thanks to the old postcards sent to us by John in UK, we are able to compare how PE looked around the 1930s, and how it looks now. This is the promenade on the beachfront.

As you can see, the major new feature is the Shark Rock Pier in the background, and of course all the high rise buildings. But missing is all the metal structure on the old slipway, and the bathing houses.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Zooming In....

....on yesterday's view, and the harbour and city centre are magically transformed into an ethereal fairyland by the wonderful early morning light.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Opera House

Ok, not the view you would expect, of the front of the building, this is backstage, so to speak! Taken from the Donkin reserve, overlooking the cliff on Whites Road, and the roof of the Opera House, to the city below. The dome of City Hall peeps over the roof in the centre, while the steeple of St Augustine's is to the right.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

then and now ... the baakens valley

We have received some fascinating photos of old postcards from John, an ex PE resident who now lives in UK. Here is a view of the Baakens Valley taken from Fort Frederick on Friday ...
and here is how it looked around the turn of the century....

The buildings up on the hill are all new, as the racially integrated South End was demolished by the Apartheid Government in the late 60s. If you want to read more, click on the south end label on the sidebar for other posts about this fascinating area.

Monday, September 15, 2008

our odd weather continues

While thunderstorms are very common inland, here at the coast they are a rarity, and we usually get cold rain associated with Antarctic cold fronts. For the last few days the air has been very warm, as berg winds come down from inland. This was followed by a hail storm last night. At least life is interesting around here!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

FINALLY!!!! Inside Fort Frederick

We have whinged in the past about the ridiculous situation in which one of the city's major tourist attractions is almost impossible to see because it remains locked most of the time. Those tasked with opening it somehow never get round to doing so, and complaints to the powers that be elicit a nonchalant "we'll look into it" response. However, on Friday we decided to try again and EUREKA it was open. So here is a view from inside Fort Frederick, overlooking the harbour.

Quoting from Margaret Harradine's history of Port Elizabeth:

"1800 Major General Francis Dundas, Commander of the troops at the Cape, reported that peace had been restored {after a spat with the French} and that he was establishing a permanent military post here. The anchorage is good, there was water, and there is shelter from the prevailing westerlies, though not from the south-easters. The stone fort which Dundas had built and which was completed in February, was named Fort Frederick, after Frederick Duke of York, Commander-in-chief of the British Army. It was built overlooking the landing place and was armed with 2 8 pounders.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

height restriction

In a city characterised by short sighted and often environmentally disastrous town planning policies for much of its history, it is almost a surprise to acknowledge one really good decision that was made in our past, and has largely been adhered to. A height restriction was imposed on all buildings at the bottom of the hill in front of the Donkin Reserve, so that from up there one can still enjoy views of the sea and harbour. As this is the direction in which the sun rises, it is truly worth while to get up early and go and make the most of it.

Just to show the contrast, here is a view looking northwards towards Richmond Hill, where sadly the same rule does not apply.

Friday, September 12, 2008

donkin sunrise

The flagpole in front of the Donkin Lighthouse and Pyramid, at sunrise. To the left in the distance is the Brick Campanile, erected in honour of the 1820 settlers.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Baakens Valley - the power of protest

We recently carried a series of photos taken at the upper end of the Baakens River Valley. This picture was taken near where the Valley enters the harbour.

I am not sure that many people in the city know why this part of the Settlers Freeway has been left hanging over the Baakens Street, just before the old PE Tramways Building. It was to be the on ramp for a freeway that was to be built through the Baakens Valley but it is now a "monument" to bad town planning.

Way back in the 1970's some of our city planners deemed it a good idea to build a freeway that would be known as the Baakens Parkway. Why not? They had just built a freeway right along the coast line - why not also destroy this piece of parkland in the name of progress too. I do not think they expected the backlash the plan received. It sparked a great deal of protest from all around the City including the Chambers of Industries and Commerce. Suffice to say, common sense prevailed and the idea was scrapped way back in 1978.

Just goes to show that strong and well reasoned protest action can win the day.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Art in the Park

Art in the Park is held on the first Sunday of every month. It has been an institution in PE for many years. Back in the early 80s I was a potter, and used to sell there every month. Sadly art in the park has become a shadow of its former self, and now just occupies a small corner of St George's Park. It still has a great atmosphere, and if old books and bric-a-brac are your thing, you would love it. There was even a band to entertain the shoppers. As a bonus, on one of the bric-a-brac stalls, we found 2 ceramic casseroles which looked very familiar, turned out they were made by me and sold in the Park in those early days.... naturally we bought them!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

St Georges Prep School

By special request of David Fry, here is St George's prep school, in Park Drive. As you can see, it is housed in a gracious old building, and is a private school with a great reputation for taking an interest in each child as an individual.

Monday, September 8, 2008


Last week the National Heritage Symposium was held in Port Elizabeth, in the old Drill Hall. The room was full of people who are passionate about preserving the heritage of the country, and the discussions were really interesting. Although, to be honest, I left with the uncomfortable feeling that much the same gets said year after year, and that the absent key players and grey areas mean that the same thing will be said again next year, with few tangible results.

The ceiling in the hall is covered with a huge parachute that is used for cargo drops and can carry up to 5 tons!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Saturday, September 6, 2008

eating out - Nosh

Nosh, in Richmond Hill, is one of Port Elizabeth's more exclusive restaurants, where well known chef Allan Fryer presides over the menu.

Friday, September 5, 2008


The sea wall between Sidon Street and Mount Road was badly damaged by this weeks huge waves, large chunks of concrete were tossed onto the railway lines.

As you can see these Municipal workers have a massive task ahead of them!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

more havok

Even before the major tsunami type waves that did all the damage on Monday, the seas on Sunday were building up unusually high. On Sunday afternoon we took a stroll along the beachfront (yes, in our case it is "mad dogs and SouthAfricans go out in the freezing gale!") hehe. But we couldn't resist the opportunity to snap away despite fingers so frozen they could barely operate the camera!

We have often shown the wonderful wide pristine sands of King's Beach in the past.....

On Sunday there was no beach! It had completely disappeared under water! (If you look really closely at the top pic, you will see the toppled lifesavers tower in the waves!)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

more spring tides....

Continuing our coverage of the spring day havok, the section of the Settlers freeway that runs past Sidon street towards Albany road also took a pounding. Even after the waves had eased up a bit, they were pretty impressive.

These are the main railway lines that feed Port Elizabeth, an as you can see it may be a while before normal services resume!

A huge concrete section of the breakwater wall was tossed onto the tracks like a lego block by the force of the waves.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Spring has sprung.....

Usually it would be the sounds of birds chirping hopefully, flowers popping up in happy colourful profusion, winter coats being stored away.... but PE is never a place that can be considered predictable and boring, so on our spring day yesterday, we had a big surprise. Our coastline was pounded by Tsunami type waves, railway lines covered with huge chunks of the concrete breakwater wall, businesses flooded, and the freeway closed most of the day due to waves crashing over the inbound lane, resulting in a mega traffic jam. We were returning from a drive in search of snow, and were stuck in the thick of it. It took over two and a half hours to travel the few km between Bluewater Bay and Albany Road!

On the plus side, being stuck in a traffic jam gives the opportunity to take pix of things that usually whizz by in a flash, so our daughter K was hanging out of the window shooting off Gigs of photos! Even a prolonged time spent in "smelly creek", a road between the Carbon black factory on one side and the sewerage reclamation works on the other, which is usually NOT a place one chooses to hang around too long, yielded a few interesting shots, so expect extended spring day coverage over the next few days!

And obviously more than one shot today hehe! The mouth of the Swartkops River was raging as we crossed the bridge, and the grassy section between the dunes and the freeway had been transformed into a lake.

here was the Swartkops mouth on a normal (if rather bleak) day last month.
All the grass you see in the dark area of the foreground is now under water.

And by comparison, this is how it looked yesterday. Heaving seas, usually not visible beyond the dunes which line this section of the freeway. The lake in the foreground is usually a grassland!

The waves were massive, and bear in mind that we were there an hour and a half after peak spring high tide, and the swell had subsided considerably since the morning! Brighton Pier, where fisherman usually stand and fish, took a real pounding, in fact the waves were so high over it that it is hard to imagine that it normally stands far above the sea!

Just so you can see the difference, here it is on the day we went whale watching, (and the swell was pretty big even then)

And yesterday, you could barely make out the pier under the massive breakers! We'll show you more tomorrow.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Monthly Theme Day: Sister Cities

Port Elizabeth seems to be part of a large family, and has a few sister cities, including Tainan in Taiwan, and Jacksonville, Florida as well as Palm Desert, California,in USA!

The one I have always felt was the closest relation is Gothenberg in Sweden. When Panoramio first started on Google Earth, and there was a small community of photographers who all corresponded and knew each other, a guy called Andreas Elmquist from Gothenberg used to post pix, and I was putting a lot of Port Elizabrth pix on the site, and we often noticed how many similarities there were between the two cities.

This was reinforced when a replica of an East Indiaman wooden ship was built in Sweden, and embarked on a historic voyage along the same route to China that its counterpart would have sailed in the 18th Century. The Götheborg came to Port Elizabeth in March 2006 en route to China.

We made contact with Gothenberg Daily Photo, and agreed to swop photos, so we have given them one of the ship when it was here, and they have given us one of her triumphant return to Sweden in 2007.

Which just goes to show that, if the whole idea of sister cities is to foster international friendship and co-operation, it works!

The portal seems to be down, but I am sure as you visit the various city blogs, you will find one who has the link list posted, and you can follow those links for more sister cities.