St. Augustine’s Catholic Cathedral, Port Elizabeth.



The area surrounding Grahamstown is rich in clay deposits and so it was no surprise to find a thriving pottery industry when we arrived here.  It employed a number of people – much needed in this small town – and produced ceramics under the brand name Drostdy Ware. Sadly, the Grahamstown Pottery closed many years ago. Even then trucks carrying enormous bags of kaolin used to grind their way up the hill en route to Gauteng, where it is used both for the ceramic industry and as a composite in the manufacture of paper. At one time this area produced over half of the kaolin required for these industries.

A relic of a past industry that provided local employment is this clay brick – photographed in Port Alfred, although some of the older homes in Grahamstown still sport these on garden paths or verandas. It points to a time when the area was more self-sufficient because there were no alternatives.

This is a nod to the past:


Historical buildings, commercial buildings and private homes alike need constant maintenance. One of the threats to look out for are fig trees establishing themselves in the tiniest of cracks. If you look carefully at the picture below, you will see a fig tree growing on the wall of a commercial building in Port Elizabeth.

This one is growing at the base of the Martello Tower in Fort Beaufort.

An innocuous looking plant such as this one, growing next to a cannon on the walls of Fort Frederick in Port Elizabeth, has already established a long network of roots by the time it is noticed.

Before long it will look like this

Look at the roots emanating from this specimen growing on another wall of Fort Frederick.

Note the damage being caused to the roof of the former officer’s quarters at Post Retief.

This is how those threads of roots can swell with time to push brickwork asunder.

Here is an example of how a tiny seedling, such as we saw in the first photograph, can destroy a building unless something is done to curb its rampant growth.


Although their first bank account was opened at Barclays Bank in 1879, the Cradock Club only officially opened its doors in 1881.

Typically, its walls are decorated with hunting trophies. I have already shown you the Aardwolf, one of a pair, standing in pride of place in the Ladies Bar, but there are others scattered around, such as this Kudu:


As well as the stretched out Python skin, with a Springbok looking obligingly at you on the left:

Many of the rooms set aside for different activities have lead-lined decorative panes.

Some of which show the wear and tear inevitable over so many years.

While the Fourth Sherwood Foresters were stationed in Cradock during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902), their senior officers were invited to make use of the Club’s facilities. At the end of the war they donated their leather-topped Burmese Teak mess table along with a dozen chairs to the club as a gesture of their gratitude.

Also in the Reading Room one can see the Officers’ Snuff Horn which was donated to the Club. This is made from the horn of a Highland sheep and is decorated with silver and amethyst.

Elegant wooden hat and coat hooks in the passages point to a different era of dress code.


Richmond House, on the east face of Wesley Hill in Port Alfred, formerly known as Cock’s Castle, was built in the 1840s by William Cock.

Today it still nestles in thick coastal bush overlooking the Kowie River. The rather grand entrance boasts an old pillar post box.

The gate is flanked by two VOC cannons.

The boundary fence hints at some of the treasures within.

This brass door knocker marks the entrance to an interesting collection of VOC (Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie) – Dutch East India Company – artifacts.

Such as a document box

And a tobacco jar

Some background information about this property can be found at