Sneezewood (Ptaeroxylon obliquum) was favoured for making sturdy fence-posts and even railway sleepers in the Eastern Cape from very early on as this hardwood is well known for its durability. Below is an example of a fence no longer in use, yet the sneezewood fence-post continues to carry out its duty.

There are many such abandoned fences in this part of the world. The following photograph shows a suburban fence made up of a collection of sneezewood fence-posts.

While they might look old and bent at different angles, these posts did their job very well and are still as strong as they were when they were first erected during the 1800s. The holes in them have not been bored by insects, but show where the fencing wires were threaded through them. In sharp contrast is a section of a modern fence, common in these parts where a number of game farms or private game reserves have sprung up.

These tall, multi-stranded fences are high enough to keep most wild animals from roaming – yet a kudu can sail over them with ease should it wish to!


You might remember me showing you the Atherstone Bridge supporting a now disused railway line:

Well before reaching this along the road, one passes what is left of the Atherstone Station: an almost illegible sign and a motley collection of abandoned houses. This one is the closest to the road:

It commands a beautiful view over the hills, across the valley to the hills beyond. Large stones hold part of the roofing in place. The sturdy chimney hints at meals cooked on a coal stove perhaps and certain warmth on chilly winter evenings.

Alas, no more.


This war memorial is set in the centre of the Eastern Cape town of Tarkastad, which was established in 1862.

It was originally erected in honour of the men who from the area who died during the First World War.

The roll of honour:

There is not a great deal of information easily available about these men:

Private Herbert Gordon Levey, the son of George John and Mary Emma Levey, served in ‘D’ Company, 2nd regiment of the South African Infantry. He died on 30th April 1918, aged 18, and is buried in the Esquelbecq Military Cemetery in France.

Although Frank is a common diminutive for Francis, it is uncertain whether the Frank M. King named on this memorial is Second Lieutenant Francis King, the only son of James Francis King of Bedford in England and Alexandrina Louisa King of Rondebosch in South Africa. He too served in the South African Infantry and died on the 12th April 1917, aged 22.

William (Willie) Philipson Stow, the son of John and Margaret Stow of Gwelo in Southern Rhodesia, died on the 10th October 1918, aged 23. He is buried in the Tincourt New British Cemetery.

Private Vernon Frost Cockin, the son of Francis Hayward and Elizabeth Maria Cockin, of Waverley, South Africa, died on the 20th October 1916, aged 25. He is buried in the Warlencourt British Cemetery.

I couldn’t find information about P. van Heerden.

Second Lieutenant Austin Rampf served in the South African Infantry and died on the 12th October 1916. He is buried in the Thiepval Memorial Cemetery.

Private Eric Newton King, the son of Robert Newton King and Esther Rebecca Gladwin of Elizabeth Farm in the Bedford District, was born on 7th February 1896. He was a member of the 4th Battalion of the South African Infantry and died on 15th December 1916 in Frevent, Arras in France, where he is buried in the St. Hillaire cemetery.

Private Norman Victor Mundell, served in the South African Infantry and died on the 11th August 1916. He is buried in the Taveta Military Cemetery.

Second Lieutenant John Hugh Edward Hughes, the son of John Henry and Alice Hughes of Cradock, Eastern Cape, served with the 156th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery and was killed in action on the Western Front on the 10th July 1917.

Although I have not illustrated it, this memorial also includes a roll of honour for those who died during the Second World War.


One cannot help noticing a strange looking building atop a sand dune on the outskirts of Port Elizabeth. This is a Coastal Fortress Observation Post – one of three – built during the Second World War to give advance warning of the approach of any unusual shipping and aircraft near the harbour.

It was constructed in 1940 and can be approached via a long, steep staircase of concrete steps. The double-storeyed building has a flat roof reached by a steel ladder, with loop holed free-form parapets rising above the roof, which give it this strange appearance to our modern eyes.

These strange looking parapets, the angle buttresses and ‘fins’ help to diffuse the otherwise box-like shape of the building when seen from the sea against the background of the bush.

Note the use of the ‘broken plate’ plaster finish on the external wall surfaces which serves as another camouflage feature of this building.

For an interesting in-depth article on these observation posts, do read the Second World War, 1939-1945: Artillery Buildings in Algoa Bay by Richard Tomlinson at http://samilitaryhistory.org/vol123rt.html



This beautiful stone arch bridge supporting the railway line between Grahamstown and Alicedale was designed and built 125 years ago by the South African railway engineer, Guybon Damant Atherstone.

Of local interest is that he was born in Grahamstown on 20th June 1843 and schooled at St. Andrew’s College, which is down the hill from where I live. A real local lad, he was employed by the Cape Government Railways, during which time he completed this railway line in 1896. Having garnered a fine reputation for designing and building railways across the Eastern Cape, he died in Grahamstown on 15th February 1912.

This single arch bridge supports the railway where it crosses the road that wends its way through the Highlands area before reaching Alicedale. As with the photograph above, this view is from the Grahamstown side:

The branch line, which covered 56 km of difficult terrain, closed in 2009. There are now sections where farm gates or fences cross the line which has become overgrown by grass and shrubs here and there. The arch remains firm:

It is a joy to see the workmanship evident in the dressed stone:

The underneath of the arch appears to be clad with bricks – unless these are stones cut to that size and shape:

Here is the view of the bridge from the Alicedale side:

While the railway is no longer in use, the bridge has stood the test of time and still stands proud.

Note: Mr. Tootlepedal, this post was compiled with you in mind.