I have just been lucky enough to buy some early photographs of the Eastern Cape city of Grahamstown.
I am not absolutely sure of their dates, but I would think they are around the 1880’s. The first one might be from a little earlier, since I think it shows the Cathedral spire being constructed, and it was completed in 1873.
I would appreciate any help identifying the locations, dates and the photographer.
This is what South African History Online has to say about the city’s history.
Following the expulsion of the Xhosa chief Ndlambe and some 20,000 of his followers from the Zuurveld in 1811, the British government at the Cape was able to proceed with their plans for the colonization of this region. However, the original residents of the area were not so understanding and made repeated efforts to return to their ancestral lands.
In an attempt to “maintain order” Governor Sir John Cradock decided to station the Cape Hottentot Corps in the Zuurveld. Initially the Commander of the Regiment, Colonel John Graham, decided to establish his headquarters on the loan farm Noutoe, now known as Table Farm, but at the recommendation of Ensign Andries Stockenstrom it was moved to the homestead of the loanfarm De Rietfontein, belonging to Lucas Meyer.
Initially it was planned to develop Grahamstown as the new headquarters for the Hottentot Corps. Plans for the village were drawn up in 1814, and the first plots were sold by public auction the following year. However after it became the seat of the Landdrost of Albany, both its character and demographic make-up changed considerably. When it was visited by James Backhouse in December 1838 he wrote the following:
“On approaching Grahams Town, we were struck with the uninviting appearance of its site, which is in a naked country, at the foot of a low, rocky, sandstone ridge … The present town consists of a few streets, one of which is spacious, and serves as a market-place.
The streets are regularly laid out; and the houses are neat, and white, or yellow. The inhabitants are about 4,000, almost exclusively English. There are places of worship belonging to the Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, Methodists, Baptists, and Independents. Adjacent to the town there are kraals or villages of Fingoes and Khoikhoi.”
Thomas Baines visited the town in March 1848 and reported that: “… we entered the town by New Street which seemed, by far, more prolific of canteens and … retail stores, than of private dwellings … (Graham’s Town) contained at the time of my arrival a population of six thousand persons, of whom one-fourth were coloured, and houses to the number of seven hundred and fifty. Its principal streets cross each other at right angles, and at their point of intersection is placed the English Church, a plain Gothic building…”
The 1865 census indicated that Grahamstown had a population of 8,072. In 1875 this number had dropped to 6,903, although by 1891 it had grown to 10,498.
By 1904 it stood at 13,887, of whom 7,605 were literate.