Go to the Labyrinth of East London Lore


Berea

An East London suburb

Keith Tankard
Knowledge4Africa.com
Updated: 14 October 2009
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Like other suburbs in South Africa, East London's Berea was named after the low ridge of hills which runs parallel to the sea (called a "berea").

The area first came under settler development after 1858, with the arrival at East London of the German peasant agriculturists. Each family was given plots of land at either Panmure or Cambridge, as well as acre lots at North End, Southernwood and Cambridge.

Their main agricultural land -- 10 acres allotted to each family -- stretched along the ridge on the south-western side of the Nahoon River, the area that today forms the suburbs of Nahoon, Stirling, Berea and Vincent. Indeed, the western boundary of these 10 acre lots is today known as Western Avenue.

When East London became a municipality in 1873, it was decided to incorporate only the original villages of East London (West Bank) and Panmure (today the Central Business District). North End, Southernwood and Cambridge were omitted, as were the 10 acre agricultural lots.

In 1876 North End and Southernwood were incorporated so as to give the municipality more logical boundaries. Cambridge and the 10 acre lots, however, were still omitted.

In 1881 the residents of Cambridge decided to form a Village Management Board of their own, with Amelius Vincent as its first Chairman. The 10 acre lots, now evolving into residential areas in their own right, became part of this new dispensation.

When East London was declared a city in 1914, attempts were made to bring the Cambridge Municipality and its suburbs under one banner but the offer was refused.

It would only be in 1942 that the Cambridge Municipality at last joined the greater metropolitan area, and so Berea finally became a part of the East London Municipality.

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