Archiver > SOUTH-AFRICA-EASTERN-CAPE > 2005-06 > 1117830954

From: "Becky Horne" <>
Subject: Walmer, Port Elizabeth - In the Old Days - Part I
Date: Fri, 3 Jun 2005 22:40:56 +0200

Walmer, Port Elizabeth - In the Old Days
by Marjory Ball

When Walmer was declared a township in 1899, it was a garden suburb
where the yellow flowers and crocuses covered the open grassy land which
was crossed by red gravel roads. The few lovely old architect designed
homes in big gardens were quite isolated. And even in those days rain
was the only source of water for the gardens.

Acetylene gas was used for lighting before the electricity came in 1925.
The man of the family was responsible for seeing water was carried in to
wet the carbide which produced the gas. The residual ash, or lime, was
used to white-wash the buildings.

The ladies were in duty bound to pay social calls. The afternoon "At
Homes" saw the hatted and gloved ladies dropping their visiting cards in
the tray in the hostess' hall as they entered. The prescribed half-hour
visit was the opportunity for exchanging news and gossip over the
teacups and the dainty wafer-thin sandwiches and iced cakes. Then the
ladies would depart home, their long skirts lifted slightly to avoid the
red dust of the roads. These were mostly friendly gatherings, but
occasionally sworn enemies appeared
together and the hostess quailed inwardly.

The Rector of St. John's Anglican Church used to ride around his parish
on a big white horse. His sermons were always long and one Sunday only
three people made up the congregation. The Rector stood up in the pulpit
and announced that he would not preach to so few, whereupon the Verger
rose from his seat and said as there was to be no sermon, there would be

In the early days Walmer had a large dairy so milk and butter was
delivered every day. The butcher was further away and his daily
deliveries were brought on horseback. Folk without horses either walked
or rode donkeys. The donkeys of Walmer were charming and full of
character (and a healthy child or two could vouch for the good of the
asses milk they were given in times of necessity).

One donkey, Billy, was used in the laying of a cricket pitch. When all
was ready, Billy was harnessed to the heavy roller and he started off.
Halfway down the pitch, though, Billy decided this was too much weight
and he stopped - but then the roller didn't - and a very surprised Billy
found himself sitting atop the roller as it surged majestically forward
under him.

Small boys whose legs were too short to mount to a donkey's back used a
stool. One small 5 year old was observed setting down and stepping up,
only to see the donkey move one step forward time after time. Even a
small boy knew he shouldn't mount too near a donkey's tail.

SOURCE: EC Genealogical Society Newsletter, Dec 1989

More to follow.

Best wishes

This thread: