Friday, November 11, 2011

South End Museum Heritage Trail

The area of South End in Port Elizabeth used to be a vibrant multi cultural suburb until it was destroyed by the Apartheid Government when its people were displaced in 1965 following the implementation of the Groups Areas Act.  The South End Museum on the corner of Beach Road and Walmer Boulevard is housed in the old Seamans Institute Building and remembers the people and places of South End.  One of the initiatives that they started was the South End Museum Heritage Trail which links a number of historic sites in the area on a self guided (or guided if you prefer it) walk.

Across the road from the museum stands an old Wild Fig tree which is thought to be over 100 years old.  The tree stands next to the then Chase Street and back in the days the kids used to climb the tree while the older people sat in it's shade.  When the people were removed and the buildings in the area demolished, the fear was that the tree would also be chopped down or pushed over by a bulldozer. Luckily this didn't happen.

As you continue on the trail you pass two mosques that, due to international pressure on the Apartheid government, weren't demolished along with the other buildings in the area.  The one at the bottom of Walmer Boulavard is the Rudolph Street Mosque (Mosque of Righteousness) which was completed in 1894.

 One of the main attractions on the trail is the St Mary's Cemetery.  St Mary's is one of the oldest cemeteries in Port Elizabeth and a number of the graves belong to some of the original British Settlers that arrived in Algoa Bay in 1820.

 Overlooking the St Mary's Cemetery is the ruins of the St Peter's Anglican Church.  St Peter's was completed in 1877 and even though the congregation of the church were been removed to the other side of the city they still came back to worship in the church to the dismay of the Apartheid government. To stop them from doing so it was decided to demolish the church.

Although there are a couple of other sites on the route, the last one that I am posting about is the remains of the old Walmer Road.  Walmer Road used to be the main road running through South End between the city centre and the suburb of Walmer.  In those days the main hotels and businesses of the area were found along this road. Today only a small section of this old road is still visible at the top of Pier Street and is slowly being overgrown by the grass and other vegetation.


  1. Lovely it is :0) Thankyou for the story, and tour :0)

  2. A shame that someone decides buildings need to be demolished. Glad something still remains of this bit of history.

  3. Hi Firefly...I like your new format...looks great and I really like the little "firefly" at the top :o)

    Your photos are so beautiful...but beyond teach us. Thank you!

  4. Deeply ashamed to live in a country that would demolish a church to prevent people worshipping there. A Heritage Trail - Lest we forget.

  5. That 2nd last photo is such a fantastic capture..well done on thinking out of the box on that one.

  6. Really I appreciate the effort you made to share the knowledge. The topic here I found was really effective to the topic which I was researching for a long time.