One of Port Elizabeth’s favorite museums is No 7 Castle Hill. The history of the building goes right back to the early days of Port Elizabeth with Rev. Francis McCleland building it as his parsonage and family home in 1825. The house is one of the oldest remaining dwelling houses in Port Elizabeth and is furnished as a mid-Victorian period family home. A lot of the furniture and items in the house comes from the 1840–1870 era to show visitors what life was like back then. The house was declared a National Monument in 1962 and became a museum in 1964.
I am often amazed at how many people didn’t know that Port Elizabeth has a South African Airforce Museum. Located behind the airport in a restored World War II hanger, the museum has a great collection of planes, choppers, equipment, uniforms, models and other paraphernalia. It’s easy to get to, just follow Forrest Hill Drive through Forrest Hill and around to the back of the airport. The museum will interest both young and old and is absolutely free with a donation box at the door. AND they are open on Saturdays. Bonus!
I quick drive around Richmond Hill the other day had me stop in front of the Jewish Pioneer Memorial Museum in Richmond Hill. Standing there I realised that I have actually never been inside the museum so I can’t really tell you what is inside from a first hand perspective. I can tell you this though. The museum is housed in the original synagogue which was used by the Jewish community between 1912 and 1954. The museum features a collection of memorabilia, ceremonial items and historical photographic displays such as a bridal gallery, Jewish ex-servicemen memorial and much more. It is only open by appointment though which is probably the reason I’ve never had the opportunity to visit.
When it comes to fun science, everybody becomes a child. It’s no difference at the NMB Science and Technology Centre in Uitenhage. There are so many fun and fascinating things to try. Things like lying down on a bed of nails to just name one. Another one that always fascinates me is the floating ball. How do they do it?
Looking for something to do with the kids this holiday? Why not head out to Uitenhage? The town has a few worth while spots to visit to keep the kids busy at. Start at the Cuyler Manor Museum, visit the world class VW Auto Pavilion and round the day off at the Nelson Mandela Bay Science and Technology Centre. Although the centre really has the potential to be so much more than what it currently is, it’s sure to keep kids big and small busy for a while as they try out all the marvels of science explained for kids to understand. Plus it’s all hands on. More info is available on the listing on the NMBT website.
One of the lesser known museums in Port Elizabeth is the Prince Alfred Guard Drill Hall in Central. The museum was established as a fusion between the old military museum that was housed at the Donkin Reserve and the old Prince Alfred Guard regimental museum. The Prince Alfred Guard was founded in 1856 as a City Regiment but had their name changed when they provided a Royal Guard for Prince Alfred, the second son of Queen Victoria, on his visit to Port Elizabeth in 1860. The Victorian Drill Hall was opened in 1880 and has been the regiment’s headquarters since then.
I met a friend and colleague for coffee at South Boulevard Café at the South End Museum the other day. The museum is situated at the intersection of Beach Road, Walmer Boulevard and the Settlers Freeway. The coffee shop has seating both inside and out on their first floor verandah which gives one a view of the intersection and harbor beyond. To some people this wouldn’t be the best view around yet I actually enjoyed watching life go by while enjoying a cup of coffee. Its like people watching in a shopping centre. Oh and did I mention that their food is very delicious and the prices not bad at all? No? Well now I have.
The last South African-made Volkswagen Beetle came off the production line on 18 January 1979 and went straight into the Volkswagen museum which later became the VW AutoPavilion. The metallic bronze Beetle was the last of 288 353 built at Uitenhage plant 1951. The car only had 200km on the clock when a vehicle carrier overturned on the way back from a show in Cape Town in 2006, destroying nine of the AutoPavilion’s most important historic cars, including this one. It was decided though to painstakingly recreate the car (recreate and not restore as the body was totally written off) using as many parts of the original as possible. The car is one of the exhibits in the VW AutoPavilion’s collection which can be viewed when visiting this awesome museum in Uitenhage.
One of my favorite geocaches done lately was one located inside the VW AutoPavilion in Uitenhage. The coordinates take you to the museum itself from where you have to follow the instructions in the cache description. These tell you to look for the blue racing car and to get in to find the cache. I’m giving this one away a bit, but the container is muggle proof so doing so isn’t the end of the world. The cache container turned out to be a ammo can in the shape of a first aid kit located somewhere in the car. Its secured to the car so no muggle can move it and its locked with a combination lock to secure the content. It had some very nice VW and car related swag inside and once I signed the logbook I spent some time enjoying the simulator in the car. A very cool cache by Navimate and well worth doing if you are a Geocacher.