Port Elizabeth has been an important port and harbour on the South Africa east coast ever since the first British settlers began arriving from 1820. Today it is a multi cargo port on the western perimeter of Algoa Bay, 384 miles southwest of Durban and 423 n.miles east of Cape Town at Longitude 25º 42' E, Latitude 34º 01' S.
The first recorded reference to the area was by the Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias who landed and erected a cross at Kwaaihoek on 12 March 1488. He was followed by Vasco da Gama, another Portuguese explorer who became the first European to discover a sea route to India around Africa, when he passed Algoa Bay in 1497. For several hundred years afterwards the area was noted in navigation charts as a "landing place with fresh water."
Following the arrival of British settlers in 1820 the harbour achieved port status in 1825 with the appointment of a harbour master and collector of customs a year later. In 1836 a surfboat service was provided for the handling of cargo and passengers, with the first jetty constructed in 1837. Forty years later in 1877 Port Elizabeth had developed into the principal port of South Africa, albeit still without a proper harbour, with annual exports valued at the equivalent of R6 million.
In 1933 construction of the Charl Malan Quay was completed and Port Elizabeth now had a 'proper' harbour. "It was gratifying to note that cargo was now consigned to Port Elizabeth, not Algoa Bay, and official records of freight were also similarly styled," said the President of the Port Elizabeth Chamber of Commerce at the chamber's annual meeting in 1935.
The up-coast mail ship
I regarded the night here as “2nd Mate’s night out” no cargo was worked overnight
The down-coast mail ship
Either Carnarvon, Warwick or Winchester Castle
The Donkin Memorial in the foreground, named after Lady Elizabeth Donkin whom Port Elizabeth was named after.
Before the construction of the harbour and docks ships would anchor in Algoa Bay and were ferried ashore by passenger tenders.
This shows the three Union-Castle tenders: Bellona, Itala and Talana at or approaching the Northern Jetty.