The Port Elizabeth Harbour


The HarbourIn January 1870 the building of the North Jetty began and the wooden structure was complete in April 1872 and widened in 1873. It was known as the “Barkly Jetty” after the governor of the time, Sir Henry Barkly. In 1880 the building of a replacement iron pile jetty was begun and this together with extensions, served until the harbour was built.

In 1881 four steam cranes were provided. The wrought iron was brought out from Stockton-on-Tees in England. There were two landing places for passengers. Before the construction of the jetties and their gangways, passengers as well as goods were brought to shore in surfboats. Only in 1884 was the iron work of the South Jetty completed.

On August 27 1883 three high tides were recorded in Algoa Bay. This was caused by the volcanic eruption which destroyed Krakatoa many thousands of miles away in the Sundra Straits. The resulting Tsunamis flooded nearby coasts and travelled across the Indian Ocean.

On January 28 1886 the first recorded shark attack occurred of the South Jetty. William Rodwell was having an early morning swim when a shark bit his leg off below the knee. He was given help as quickly as possible and survived.

A historic day was the 28th October 1933 when Harbour Day was celebrated in the city-truly a dream come true. After a carnival procession, the flagship of the Africa station, HMS “Dorsetshire” tied up at No.1 Quay. Guards of honour awaited Vice-Admiral Evans and the new No.1 Quay was officially named “Charl Malan” after the Minister of Railways and Harbours. There was a banquet at the Hotel Elizabeth, a ball in the Feather Market Hall and a fireworks and searchlight display while the cruiser was opened to the public.

In August 1942 the Port Elizabeth harbour was declared a prohibited area because U-Boats were active off the coast. In October 1943 thirteen ships were sunk in four days off the Cape of Good Hope. In the same year an anti-submarine, anti-torpedo boom was set up across the entrance to the harbour. Three ships were sunk off our coast: “Helmspey”, “Deer Lodge” and “Llanashe”.

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Text:  M Harradine

Photographs:  Bob Binnell

Did You Know?

Approximately 400 shipwrecks are to be found in and around Algoa Bay.

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Last updated:
3 October 2012 7:51