Port Elizabeth

The demolition of Central Buildings has brought about a massive response from both citizens of Port Elizabeth, the wider national Heritage bodies and ex Port Elizabethans, internationally. The shock and sadness still continues.

I was devastated to witness this demolition as I have been fighting; for these buildings since 2005.

We have now lost not one, but two buildings along our Donkin heritage trail in Port Elizabeth. A sad week for tourism in PE. These documents of the past are gone, especially when seen in relation to number 7 Castle Hill museum, a provincial heritage site.

Does anyone remember Pyott Biscuits? They were the makers of Salticrax, Romany Creams, Iced Zoo and many other SA favourites. Today they’re all branded under the Bakers label and the Pyott name has largely been forgotten.

In a recent article published by the author (click here to view), reference was made to a modern photographic phenomenon, namely “found photographs”. In short: “Found photographs” are discarded vintage photographs typically found at charity stores, car boot sales, flea markets or antique fairs. As a single image, any “found” or the converse thereof, “lost” photograph, has sadly lost its original context when viewed by a total str

Below is an absorbing and practical article looking at lettering on buildings. It was compiled by Dennis Radford for the October 1988 edition of Restorica, the journal of the Simon van der Stel Foundation (today the Heritage Association of South Africa). Thank you to the University of Pretoria (copyright holders) for giving us permission to publish.

One of the most striking buildings in Port Elizabeth is the famous Campanile. In the article below, Tennyson Smith Bodill reveals the history behind the creation of this remarkable structure. The piece was originally published in the April 1989 edition of Restorica, the journal of the Simon van der Stel Foundation (today the Heritage Association of South Africa). Thank you to the University of Pretoria (copyright holders) for giving us permission to publish.

In 1996 the Christian Science Church in Port Elizabeth was illegally demolished. City Councillor Rory Riorden was furious and penned an article for Restorica which we have republished below. Restorica was the journal of the Simon van der Stel Foundation (today the Heritage Association of South Africa). Thank you to the University of Pretoria (copyright holders) for giving us permission to publish.

The following article on the history of the Port Elizabeth Railway Station was originally published in the October 1986 edition of Restorica, the journal of the Simon van der Stel Foundation (today the Heritage Association of South Africa). It formed part of a larger piece titled "The coming of the Railway to the Cape". Thank you to the University of Pretoria (copyright holders) for giving us permission to publish.

A few years ago we were involved in a battle to save historic Nedbank documents that were being thrown away by the company. For a while the future of the documents looked bleak but thankfully the story had a happy ending when top Nedbank executives got involved. The documents were moved to the Sandton head office and the execs committed to hire an archivist to go through the collection. The execs also committed to let the community know what was found and what would then be done with the documents.*

It is hard to imagine that the magnificent Port Elizabeth City Hall was almost demolished. The article below, first published in the Evening Post in January 1973, describes a meeting organised by the Port Elizabeth Historical Society where arguments on both sides of the preservation versus development debate were presented. We stumbled across the article in Bulletin, the old journal of the Simon van der Stel Foundation (today the Heritage Association of South Africa).

A few years ago a wonderful collection of old documents was found in the basement of a Johannesburg inner city building while the tenant (Nedbank) was moving out. One of the boxes we looked at contained details of Nedbank's 50th anniversary celebrations (circa 1938). It was here we found a remarkable set of images of a few Town / City Halls around the country. It appears as though the photographs were taken in the late 1930s. Enjoy...

 

The following article appeared in the 1998 edition of Restorica, the journal of the Simon van der Stel Foundation (today the Heritage Association of South Africa). Jonathan Mercer, then Assistant City Engineer Planning for Port Elizabeth, posed some tough questions about planning and enforcement in our cities. Many of his points are still relevant today. Thank you to the University of Pretoria (Restorica copyright holders) for allowing us to publish the piece.

The Settlers Park Monument is in fragments, the Horse Memorial is missing its Soldier, and Queen Victoria has a green dress.  All across the nation, monuments are covered in graffiti and paint. The bronzes are corroding, the marbles are stained, and the iron is disappearing everywhere, but this is all in a day’s work in the life of an art conservationist.

This installment of the History of Southern African Railways series looks at the demise of the branch line network and will be relevant to many in the heritage community. Over the last few decades many lines have been closed and the heritage assets associated with them have fallen into disrepair. We certainly hope that Transnet's strategy to revitalise the branch line network will go some way towards turning this situation around.

In the first installment of the series on the history of Southern African railways, Peter Ball described some of the earliest railways in the country and the extension of a number of lines into the interior. In this article he looks at the fascinating politics and economics of the 'Race for the Rand'.

In the late 1980s Dr Nic Woolff compiled the article 'Lessons Learned from Restoring the Donkin Row Houses'. It was published in Restorica, the journal of the Simon van der Stel Foundation (today the Heritage Association of South Africa). If sentiment on the ground at the moment is anything to go on, the current developer has not learned any lessons and therefore this piece might make depressing reading for members of the heritage community. Thank you to the University of Pretoria (copyright holders) for giving us permission to publish the article.

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