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29 Miles Street, Port Alfred | PO Box 2871, Port Alfred, 6170 | Tel: 046 624 4356 | Fax: 046 624 2293

Remembering the richness of Port Alfred’s past
T is with joyous enthusiasm,
that we have collaborated,
researched, and hounded many
specialists in history, to aid our
collective celebration of the period 1889
to 2014 – 125 years since the first mayor
of Port Alfred was inaugurated officially.
The municipal area comprised of East
bank (Port Francis) and West bank (Port
Kowie).
Although, in earlier years, Port Alfred
was formally declared a municipality,
(circa 1889) it was the final step on the
completion of the Putt Bridge that bound
east and west into one town. Therefore,
the birth of a tiny little village, with a
wide and glorious river flowing out to
sea, tells the story of this Settler village,
through discoveries, trouble, changes and
backbreaking work, and near disasters.
Then finally, as we reflect on where
we live now, the essence of river,
magnificent beaches and a harbour, albeit
not in the mouth of the river, just a tad
higher up.
We hope you are going to enjoy our
souvenir “timeline” as it is a tale of “old”

settlers who arrived here, the events that
changed their lives, ours for that matter,
as we are the “new settlers”. It is the
story, in short, of the astounding transformations and through all of this, wars
aside, one has to agree, it is a very special
town, where colonists old and new,
co-exist in harmony.
If there is one lesson we have learnt
through our research, it is that despite
modernisation, the essence of people
remains the same. Swashbuckling entrepreneurs, thoughtful academics, hardy
agricultural stalwarts and gifted artists of
every genre make up the foundation of
this settlement.
Port Alfred, is known as the very “seat”
of 1820 Settler history, you can hardly
move at times, as there are so many people
who are family-related in some way from
that date in history. Pick a surname, and
you will trip over more than a dozen kin.
From “toffee-nosed” wannabes, to the
boets and swaers, to the “new-settlers”, the
fusion of all of these influences ensure that
those who have left us, for whatever reason,
never forget their roots.

Port Alfred has hosted many famous
people over the years. From English
royalty, to renowned politicians to the
capitalists of intriguing dimensions, who
changed the course of our history in some
way.
We often muse and dream of the
unlikely possibility of say William Cock,
or Lord Charles Somerset, (circa 1820s)
arriving here now and seeing that instead
of a pooled lagoon, near the Kowie River
mouth, there, comfortably ensconced , a
sprawling marina, with gigantic homes
built in materials they could never have
imagined.
Imagine their collective bewilderment
at instead of seeing tall ships with sails
along the wharf, there were 21st century
powerboats and yachts, booze-cruisers
and wet-bikes, and hey, the motor cars
and trucks? The list is endless, the
changes profound.
The impoverished settlers sailed in
dastardly ships, at times under horrendous conditions. It took on average three
months to cross the ocean.
In 125 years, we have gone from

horses and ox drawn carts, to electronic
transport. Men have walked on the moon.
Instead of a leather bag of coins, or paper
pounds, we use a plastic card as tender.
We wear synthetic clothing, and have
deodorant. We send correspondence in
the blink of an eye. It took an average of
three to four months for mail to get to its
destination, in those times. Aeroplanes,
submarines, laser medical equipment,
television, iPads, cell phones, cinematography, satellites, space ships, the list is
never-ending.
The angst of lost history is almost
unthinkable. It is not that we want to live
in the past; it is the tempo, the values
and the possible longing to know. To get
details, learn about and absorb the
reason for our settling here in the
glorious Kowie.
We have been unpacking titbits of
settler history simply to illustrate and
perpetuate, possibly to instil in this new
generation, that without history, we have
no future. We salute those hardy pioneers,
while we pay homage to the now
generation.


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