Thursday, March 31, 2016

Then and Now - The Athenaeum building

The Port Elizabeth Athenaeum Society of Port Elizabeth was founded in 1856 to promote the interests of science and literature among the members and general public.  In 1859 land was granted for the erection of the Town Hall and it stated that the building had to provide space for a library and athenaem as well.  In 1887 the athenaeum was dissolved and the Council took over it's assets, which included a museum, which was housed in the Town Hall

In 1894 the Athenaeum was revived and comprised of the PE Institute, School of Art, Naturalists' Society and the Camera Club.  Although they claimed their right to space in the Town Hall, the Council gave a new site and 3000 pounds for the construction of a new building for them to use.  The building was opened on 26 July 1896 which is about the date of the Then picture. 

In 1901 a new wing was opened and in 1919 the Athenaeum became a social club.  Since 1946 the Little Theatre has also been in operation from here and the building became a National Monument in 1980.  The whole building was renovated by the Municipality and MBDA a couple of years ago and still houses the theatre.  It also has a new coffee shop, exhibition and meeting space as well as a few other components.

The historic information in this post was taken from Margaret Harradine's excellent book, Port Elizabeth, A social chronicle to the end of 1945.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Harmony in Nature on Route 67

One of the more unusual art pieces along Roue 67 is the Harmony in Nature piece in front of the Atheneaum building.  The piece uses an old optical technique used by the likes of Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo and uses optical illusion and mathematics to create a 3D picture that reflects from the flat and distorted mosaic surrounding the pole.  The artwork shows fauna and flora from the Eastern Cape and truly is a must see.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Then and Now - Lower Baakens Valley

Way back in the early days when the first ships started coming past our coastline they used to sail into the bay to get fresh water in the lagoon near the mouth of the Baakens River.  The Baakens River got it's name from the Dutch East Indian Company beacon that was placed at the fountain below Fort Frederick from where sailors could collect fresh water from for the ships.  The fountain later supplied water to the early settlement that later became Port Elizabeth.  In April 1851 a wooden tank was built over the springs on the south side of the lagoon and pipes carried the water beyond the surf to a water boar from where ships were supplied with fresh water.  In December 1857 the old wooden tank was replaced with a stone tank.

In July 1864 the municipality narrowed the channel of the Baakens River and reclaimed the land where the lagoon was located.  The reclaimed land was divided into plots and sold off with the money being used to buy the land on which Victoria Park is located today.

The Now photo was taken from the top of Fort Frederick and you can barely see the very narrow channel that the Baakens River is contained in now.  The Tramways Building, currently being renovated by the MBDA, can be seen right in the middle of the picture where the road bends with the Baakens River Mouth just to the left of it.  The river, of cause, flows into the Port Elizabeth Harbour

The historic information in this post was taken from Margaret Harradine's excellent book Port Elizabeth.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Driving down Heugh Road

For some reason I also loved the view of the Harbour, with the Rudolph Street Mosque in the foreground, as you come down Heugh Road.  I always wanted to take a picture of the view and this morning I set up my camera on the dash and snapped that picture.  So the picture doesn't have the same impact as seeing it first hand but don't you just love the view of the sea and harbour as you come down the hill?

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Baakens Valley - PE's green lung

The Baakens Valley truly is Port Elizabeth's green lung stretching all the way from the west of the city through to the harbour.  The valley really has so much potential to be one of the city's playgrounds, but the stigma of crime is sticking to it like velcro.  Mountain bikers, trail runners and hikers use parts of the Baakens Valley on a regular basis but the valley has so much more to give.  I am a true believer in the fact that it is up to the general public to take back places like this and by going there in their numbers, the bad element (if there are still any around) will be finally pushed out. This picture of the Baakens Valley with Settlers Park was taken from the Walmer side close close to 2nd Avenue.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Splash Festival weekend - video

It is Easter Weekend and time for the annual Splash Festival.  After a few lean years, the municipality allocated a proper budget for this year's event again and hopefully it would mean that quality artists and activities would attract more people back to one of the city's flagship event.  The last few years the event has really been reduced in size and quality but from the look of it this year may just be the turning point again.  That is if the municipality doesn't cut the budget next year again.  Anyhow, to put you in the mood for Splash, I dug out this video of the festival taken in 2012 from YouTube.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Then and Now - Kings Beach kiddies slide

When we were small we often went to swim at the pools (both the pool by the Smartie Train and the kiddie slide pool) at Kings Beach.  I remember the day so well when I decided that I was big enough to go and  try out the "big" slide at McArthur's Pool.  The kiddies slide (and Smartie Train pool) closed down before I had kids so they never got to experience that part of my childhood memories. After the slide got closed down they created a garden in the pool.

It was great to see that when the Kings Beach Park development took place that the structure with it's stone steps got incorporated into the development.  The fountain still works (although not on the day I took the photo) and the water cascades down the steps and into the Kings Beach lake.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Early morning robots

One of the things I like most about the school holidays is the fact that there is so much less traffic on the way to work in the mornings.  This morning I stopped at the Walmer Library to replace a Geocache that needed some maintenance and snapped a picture of a road with absolutely no traffic. Well, not a real road though but the one where the kiddies go and ride their bicycles.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Chokka boat lights off Seaview

Drama Princess went to sleep over at a friend's house in Seaview a few nights ago.  We dropped her off a little late and it was dark by the time we got there.  I just love the view from Seaview over the ocean.  The bright lights are chokka boats fishing off the coast.  In the background are white and red lights.  The white lights is Jeffrey's Bay while the red lights are from the JBay Wind Farm turbines.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Coffee with Geocachers

I joined a couple of my fellow Geocachers for a lunch time coffee "event" at the new Urban Express Coffee Shop at the Donkin Village development.  I can see this spot becoming very popular, specially for meetings over coffee, seeing its location and how central it is.  And yes, that's our bunch on the right.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Donkin Village redevelopment

I met up with a few friends for coffee over lunch time at the new coffee shop at the Donkin Village.  I've seen the work being done on the Donkin Street Houses but this was the first time I got to see the development from the back.  I really think once the work is done the whole Donkin Village precinct is going to look very nice.  Already it has drawn in a whole host of tenants making it quite a sought after piece of real estate to lease space in and establish your business in the city's latest trendy spot.

Same spot but looking east

Saturday, March 19, 2016

A braai with Drama Princess

Last weekend I was tiling in the kitchen and at some stage during the afternoon we realised that we just won't be able to braai and will probably just get something quick to eat.  Drama Princess wanted nothing of that and packed the wood, lit the fire and braai'd the meat.  Today we've been busy packing the kitchen stuff back now that the cupboards and tiling is done and she insisted that she will braai again.  And she did.  All I did was clean the grid, prepare the coals for her to put the meat on and check that everything is cooked before she took it off.  She did the rest herself. How proud can one dad be of his 11 year old daughter.

I know this isn't a typical PE Daily Photo post but I just had to share this.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Snorkeling with an otter at Schoenies

After seeing all the reaction on the video about snorkeling around the Humewood slipway I shared two weeks ago I went looking for another snorkeling video to share with you.  I came across this amazing video by Brad Taylor.  Brad went snorkeling at Schoenies with his brother and dad and they were joined by this very curious otter.  Wow, what an experience that must have been. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Boardwalk Hotel lobby lounge

The first time I entered the Boardwalk Hotel I was fascinated by the huge lobby space.  The hotel's lobby area is more than just a space where you enter and exit as well as check in.  They created a whole lounge area in the lobby.  Hence the name Lobby Lounge.  Other than a waiting area it's also a great spot to have a quick meeting over coffee while they also use the area to serve high tea and lunches.  The lunch menu for the Lobby Lounge has some mouth watering light lunch options on it and the prices compare to just about every other restaurant in town's lunch prices.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Then and Now - Target Kloof

I am sure all of us who live in Port Elizabeth drive through Target Kloof between Walmer and the Central / Cape Road area every now and then.  Some on a more regular basis than others.  But do we ever think about the history of the road and area? Probably not.  So here is a tidbit of history.  Although I couldn't find any info on where Target Kloof got its name from, I have found that on 22 April 1896 it was decided at a Town Council meeting that the Divisional Council's proposed plan to build a road through Target Kloof from Port Elizabeth to Walmer was approved.  The road had to be 60 feet wide, fenced and maintained by the Divisional Council.  By November of that same year the old road through the Mill Property was closed.  The Mill Property, by the way, is where Thomas Gubb who was the owner at the time, got permission to have Xhosa huts built in 1863.  Although he sold the land in 1867, the area was still known as Gubb's Location and was later owned by the Mill Park Estate and Land Company.  The location was closed by the Plague Board in 1903.  But I'm digressing.  It's interesting that the picture says the Baakens River near Port Elizabeth but also keeping in mind that back then this would have been outside of the town of Port Elizabeth.

I really like this second picture.  It's a lot clearer than the first.  Notice the horse drawn carriage heading towards Port Elizabeth and the very old car heading towards Walmer.  Something else to note is the footbridge on the left of the road, probably for when the river was high and people needed to cross. The hill in the background is where Wellington Park is today.  This time the picture is marked as "New Road, Walmer". 

The road through Target Kloof as it is today.  Still quite wide (there was too much traffic for me to see if it's 60 feet or not) and fenced in in some areas.  Unfortunately not as maintained by the council as it is supposed to be, but still one of Port Elizabeth's busiest thoroughfares. I think I got pretty close to the same spot as the second picture was taken from when you compare the hill in the background.  Now if I can just figure out where the name Target Kloof came from.

Update (17 March 2016) - As far as the name goes, word is that there used to be a shooting range on the Port Elizabeth side of the valley near the then Gubb's Location and the locals started to refer to it as Target Kloof.

I got the two two historic pictures of Port Elizabeth groups on Facebook and they unfortunately had no credits attached to them.  The historic information was gathered from Margaret Harradine's book Port Elizabeth.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Friendly Stranger fare

Third post about the Friendly Stranger this week so by now it's not really a stranger anymore.  I met my friends Poekie and Shefetswe for coffee and to discuss a bit of work (seeing that we're all in the same industry).  Shefetswe had the breaky while Poekie and I decided to try out their cakes. Ok, so I had a taste before I took the photo.  

Monday, March 14, 2016

A Friendly Stranger and the Fig Tree

Down at the bottom of the Baakens Valley in front of the Bridge Street complex, stands a little historic building next to a Wild Fig tree.  I joined a couple of friends for coffee there the other day and was just reminded once again what a love little coffee shop this is.  But it's not just about coffees and cakes.  There menu has some truly delectable dishes on it so next time you're looking for a place to sit and chill out over a coffee without a lot of hustle and bustle about, this is your spot.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Friday, March 11, 2016

Skateboarding around Port Elizabeth

I'm not a skateboarder.  Fell way too hard off my skateboard trying it out as a kid.  Drama Princess loves to Jboard though.  But that's beyond the point.  Anyhow, I was looking for a video to post for this week's Video Friday post and found this one on the King's Beach Skateboarding YouTube channel.  Although it's one of their older videos it shows the guys leaving the skate-park behind and hitting the streets a bit, showing off some of Port Elizabeth's landmarks in the background as they go.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Then and Now - Trinder Square

Back in the early days of Port Elizabeth there used to be a vlei area where Trinder Square in Central is located today.  The "Vlei" was a natural drainage point and in the early and mid 1800's it was used to provide water for animals with a lot of farmers coming to do business at the market square bringing their animals here to drink.  The Garrison Company's gardens was also laid out on the western side of the vlei.  The vlei also was made deeper over time as the clay was used to built roads in the vicinity.  

In February of 1883 the vlei was drained and in June of the same year a wall with iron railings was built around the area.  I got most of the info from Margaret Harradine's Port Elizabeth, but the book doesn't give the reason the vlei was filled in.  My guess is that the rich folk who moved into and built mansions in the area didn't quite like the animals being watered here.  In particular perhaps the bad smell. 

Today Trinder Square is a popular spot where youngsters from the surrounding flats come to play soccer.  The park has recently seen an upgrade making it part of Route 67.  Mosaic covered benches has been built to represent the exposed roots of the old Wild Fig trees that grow around the park while play equipment has been installed in the south-east corner of the park.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Then and Now - The Beach Hotel

Yesterday morning Errol Somerville posted two old photos of the Beach Hotel on the Friendly City of Port Elizabeth Facebook group.  The first one dates from round about 1924, the year the hotel was built.  I went to have a look on the Beach Hotel's website to see if they had any history about the hotel on there and found the following:

It is believed that the original Beach Hotel and surrounding area belonged to Piet Retief and his family.  His home, a tennis court and servants quarters stood on this ground. 

Tenders for the proposed Beach Hotel were called for on 22 June 1893.  The wood and iron structure was designed by architect George William Smith.  Construction progressed rapidly and on 16 February 1894, the hotel was officially opened with a grand luncheon party.  The first Manager was Mr. Edward Steinmann.

Then, sadly, at 5 o’clock on 1 December 1915, the hotel went up in flames.  Townsfolk rushed to witness firemen desperately fighting the fire which destroyed the entire building within an hour.  In 1922 Humewood was ripe for development after the Marine Drive was completed.  Mr. Bill Poole immediately took the option on the first hotel site and built the second Beach Hotel.  The building was completed in 1924. The hotel changed hands several times and was later bought by a Mrs. Lupping at an auction for £46 000.  Wilfred Guscott bought the hotel from the Luppings, and his nephew, Roy Lombard, bought it in 1958.

Mr Lombard brought about the first alterations to the hotel when he elevated it to the first three star hotel in the country.  It is now a popular family run hotel  which welcomes holidaymakers and businessmen alike from across the world. 

 The second picture dates back to the late 50's or early 60's and I guess was taken just after Roy Lombard made the alterations.

My car was in for a service yesterday and while waiting outside the Beach Hotel for the shuttle to pick me up I decided to snap a picture of the hotel as it looks now for a comparison.  I tried my best to get a good picture from a similar angle which wasn't easy with the boundary wall and parking area in the way.  It's pretty close though to make a Then and Now comparison. The outside building that was used as off-sales back then is now a restaurant in the form of Ginger. The entrance has changed and there is no more balcony (which is a great pity as the view would be awesome) while the Verandah restaurant has also been added since back then.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Drinks on the deck at the Kelway Hotel

The fourth Travel Massive Port Elizabeth event took place at the Kelway Hotel tonight and I was just reminded once again how an awesome place their deck is to enjoy drinks after work.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Refreshing rain

I've done a lot of travelling over the last two weeks but aren't complaining.  I love to road trip for work cause it also gives me the chance to sight see and Geocache while I'm at it.  I had to dash up to East London yesterday and drove back this afternoon.  It's been a hot and humid morning and just after Alexandria I encountered the first drops.  Had rain all the way back and it hasn't really stopped raining.  As I'm posting this at 8:49 PM it's still falling outside.  I'm going to sleep like a baby tonight. A sleeping baby that is and not one that wakes up every few minutes.  

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Noordhoek dune field

Standing at the view point on Marine Drive close to Noordhoek looking back at Cape Recife you can see a section of sand dunes in the middle of the coastline.  These dunes form part of the Noordhoek dune field, one of three driftsand bypass systems that used to take sand into Algoa Bay.  The other two are the Drifsands and Cape Recife dune systems.

The main sand bypass, known as Dritsands, covered the whole area between Schoenmakerskop and Summerstrand.  In the late 1800's the dunes started to threaten Port Elizabeth and plans had to be made to stabalise them.  At first a steam train was used to dump the town's garbage on the dunes and you still find areas where pieces of old bottles, plates and other objects can be found.  In the beginning of the 1900s the area was stabilised by planting Australian wattles such as Rooikrans and Port Jackson as well as Eucalyptus trees planted in an attempt to start a commercial forest.  This stopped the Driftsands dune field from moving sand into the bay.

In the 1960's the municipality built sewerage maturation ponds in Cape Recife.  These fell right into the path of the moving Noordhoek dune field and a decision was made to stabilised the leading edge of the dunes by planting vegetation.  From the angle of the picture the back end of this dune field can be seen.

Before the reclamation of Driftsands, about 170000m3 of sand got deposited into Algoa Bay and onto the beaches every year.  After Driftsands was reclaimed, the sand entering the bay from the remaining two dune systems dropped to around 78000m3 a year.  This again dropped to only 26000m3 a year after the Noordhoek dune field was stopped in its tracks.  The only sand being deposited into the bay now is from the small Cape Recife dune field next to the lighthouse. 

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Wildside's rocky coastline

Port Elizabeth's southern coastline is generally referred to as the Wildside.  The coastline is stunning on the best of days, but if the prevailing south-westerly really pumps and the rollers break white water on the mostly rocky coastline, then it's no surprise why it's called the Wildside.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Snorkeling at Humewood Slipway

Check out this awesome video Keith Hamilton shot while snorkeling around the six pillars of the old Humewood slipway.  Just shows that we have some stunning snorkeling spots along our coastline with this one being right here on the main beachfront.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Boardwalk Hotel pool deck

The Boardwalk Hotel pool deck feels like an amphitheater with the hotel building on three sides of it.  Ideal to block the southerly and westerly winds off.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Then and Now: St Peters Church (ruins)

When the Queen Elizabeth cruise ship was in the PE Harbour a few weeks ago I took a drive to the St Peters Church ruins in South End as it has a great view of the harbour.  It's been a year or two since I've last been there so I took a walk around the ruins and snapped a few pictures.  I found this old picture of St Peters with the Fishermen's Cross in front of it and decided to do a Then and Now post with it.

St Peters Anglican Church was started in temporary premises as a daughter church of St Mary’s in 1871. The church obtained part of the St Mary’s cemetery land and built a permanent church building just above the cemetery in 1875.  It was designed and built by Rev George Smith, who became the first minister. The church was inaugurated in 1877 and served the culturally mixed community who resided in South End.  The church also housed a school for coloured and Malay children, as they had no school of their own.  St Peters was the first school in South End to educate up to standard 6 (grade 8) which was the maximum level available for coloureds at that time.  During the 1960s, the apartheid Government declared South End as a white area and the existing residents were forcibly removed.  The Government decreed that some churches, mosques and schools would be spared the demolitions, and initially St Peters church survived.  By 1970 most of the congregants had been forced to leave the area and the church was not that much in use anymore.  It was deconsecrated in 1972 and the empty building was vandalised to the extend of what little is left of it today.
Source of information “South End as We Knew it” by Yusef Agherdien, Ambrose C George and Shaheed Hendricks as well as “Port Elizabeth” by Margaret Harradine.

The ‘Fisherman's Cross' in front of church in the Then photo stood in the grounds of St Peters Anglican Church and was so called because it stood as a symbol of love and hope for the men in the trawlers and line boats in the bay. It could be clearly seen from all parts of Algoa Bay and faced across the mouth of the Baakens River. The Cross was unveiled and dedicated as a memorial to those who served in the Great War of 1914-18.
The figure on the cross was a life-sized one and had been imported from Belgium. Kohler Brothers supplied the 12 foot high teak cross, and a parishioner John Hendricks, did the concrete work and stone masonry.  Somewhere in the late 1950s the figure, for some unknown reason, fell and broke and it was replaced by a cement sculpture
Amazingly, the Cross survived the might of apartheid laws and the bulldozers of the Group Areas Act in the late 1960s and early 70s. It was taken to the church of St Mark and St John in Parkside in the Northern Suburbs, and today it overlooks the noisy N2 motorway, still bearing witness.  I have to be honest when I say I have never seen the actual cross so I think it's time to pay it a visit in Parkside. 

The Now photo was taken from behind the church as I just couldn't get a similar angle from the front.  As you can see there isn't much more than just the outside walls of the church left standing today.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Then and Now - Top of Whites Road

The Port Elizabeth tramway network was opened on 14 May 1881 and was initially operated horse-cars.  On 16 June 1897 the network was converted to electrical power and the system operated until it was closed on 17 December 1948.  One of the most challenging parts of the tramway network was going up Whites Road past the Opera House.  Apparently at one stage boys with buckets of sand used to throw sand on the line to give the trams more grip going up the hill.

Looking down Whites Road today it's all cars (ok, so not at the moment of taking this photo) and no more trams.  Both the Opera House and St Augustine's are blocked by trees but still there.  At least the buildings top right are still recognisable from the Then picture to Now.