It is surprising how many people think that Port Elizabeth was named after Queen Elizabeth II, but this of course is impossible because she only came to the throne in 1953. No, the origins of the city come from an entirely different source.
The name “Port Elizabeth” comes from Sir Rufane Donkin. He named the town after his late beloved wife, Elizabeth who died in India of a fever while they were on active service there. Sir Rufane Donkin arrived on June 6, 1820 to superintend the settlement of emigrants in the embryo town. Sir Donkin was a soldier, politician and writer and he saw service all over the world with his regiments, the 44th Foot and the 11th Foot.
1820 SETTLERS LANDING
On 10th April 1820, the Chapman, which was the first of the settler transport ships, arrived in Algoa Bay. In the same month, the Nautilus, the Ocean, the Kennersley Castle and the Northampton also arrived with emigrants seeking to start a new life in the Eastern Cape. Within weeks, the first parties departed for the Albany district seeking to make a new life for themselves.
Sir Rufane Donkin arrived on June 6 to superintend the settlement of the emigrants. On this day he named the embryo town after his late wife, Elizabeth Donkin.
THE SOUTH AFRICAN WAR
On October 11, 1899 the Transvaal declared war against Britain. Prince Alfred’s Guard mobilized for service in the Anglo-Boer War and a few weeks later the first British troops arrived in Port Elizabeth on the Braemar Castle.
In February 1900 there was the first parade of the Port Elizabeth Town Guard. 900 names were collected and 8 companies formed, but the men were not sworn in as troops on active service until January 1901.
THE GREAT TREK
The Great Trek was an eastward and north-eastward migration during the 1830s and 1840s of the Boers (Dutch/Afrikaans for "farmers"), who descended from settlers from western mainland Europe, most notably from the Netherlands.
Two streams of Afrikaner migrants left the colony in the second quarter of the nineteenth century.
The first of the two streams of migrants was an emigration of people called trekboers, who moved across the border as individual families in search of better pasture; the others moved in trek parties and emphasised political issues. They would later be called Voortrekkers.
At certain times of the year the South East gales are notorious for the damage they cause and the history books are full of disastrous episodes. In September 1869 a South East gale blowing up to 120 kph beached 11 vessels of the 13 in the Bay, and all the lighters. Eight members of the crew of the "Sea Snake" were drowned.
The curve of the Bay towards North End in Port Elizabeth is often referred to as the "bight", an old English word. The "bight" is a notorious graveyard for wrecked ships. On November 27th 1872 four ships were wrecked on the "bight." On November 14th 1903 there were 6 sailing ships wrecked on the bight on the same day.
SOUTH END: AN ESSENTIAL DISTRICT OF PORT ELIIZABETH
South End was one of the prime areas of Port Elizabeth because it was close to the centre of town and to the beachfront and also because it was close to the harbour and the beachfront. Many inhabitants of South End were dependant on fishing to support themselves and their families.
1968 FLOODS IN PORT ELIZABETH IN THE EASTERN CAPE
“On 1 September 1968, sixteen inches of rain fell on Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape in a single day- the highest rainfall figure in living memory.”- Eastern Cape Herald.
Five people are known to be dead and 30 people had to be rescued as 429 mm of rain fell on the city, devastating the roads and destroying countless homes. The city ground to a standstill during this disaster.
THE FIRST RUGBY TEST IN SOUTH AFRICA
On July 30th, 1891, the first-ever rugby Test was played at St George's Park, on the ground that became known in rugby circles as the Crusaders Grounds. Britain won the Test 4 - 0, scoring two tries, but one must realize that in those days a try was only worth one point, but when converted, counted three. This British touring team was unbeaten during the tour, but the scoring in vogue at the time gave one point for a converted try, two for a penalty goal or a goal from a mark, and three for a drop goal or a converted try.
THE EASTERN PROVINCE HERALD: OLDEST NEWSPAPER IN SOUTH AFRICA
The EP Herald is one of the oldest newspapers in South Africa, outlived only by The Natal Witness. The first edition of the Herald came out on 7th May 1845 and was published in Port Elizabeth every Wednesday morning at a cost of one penny or 1 pound 5 shillings per annum. It was four pages in length. The front page was devoted to advertisements only, with the news inside and it was 93 years before the Herald began publishing news on the front cover on January 4, 1938.
Port Elizabeth’s City Hall was built between 1858 and 1862 and proclaimed a National Monument in 1973.
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3 October 2012 7:51