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Eastern Beach

Like many of East London's landmarks and suburbs, the Eastern Beach gradually evolved its name.

It was originally known as "Panmure Beach" after the village on the eastern bank of the Buffalo River but this term gradually fell into disuse after the formation of a municipality in 1873.

The descriptive title of "the eastern beach" began to be used more and more until, by 1900, it had become the official designation for this beach.

The beach, together with the nearby wooded sand dunes, was not originally a part of the municipality but was held as a government reserve. As a result, the municipality had no jurisdiction there.

The beach was nevertheless set aside as the primary bathing place for women and children who were banned from using the other beaches because these had been designated male-only places owing to the fact that men preferred to swim in the nude.

Because the Eastern Beach was so far from the town, however, it was extremely difficult for women to get there -- and also dangerous for a woman to be there alone.

Women therefore preferred to invade the male space at the Sandy Beach -- or Orient Beach, as it became known after the Orient was wrecked there in 1907.

The Eastern Beach has periodically been the scene of shipwrecks, such as when the Aurora and the Elise Linck were washed ashore during a gale, or when the cargo of the Valdivia was washed ashore when that ship sank in 1908.

Keith Tankard
14 October 2009

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