Go to the Labyrinth of East London Lore

John Arnold

Hotelier & Town Councillor

Keith Tankard
Updated: 14 October 2009
(Contact the Project Coordinator)

It is with great sadness that we have to announce that the creator of The Labyrinth of East London Lore, Dr T., has passed away. Helping people through his website gave him no end of pleasure. If you had contact with him and would like to leave a message, please send us an e-mail here.

John Arnold was born in Belfast (Ireland) in April 1825 and came to the Cape Colony with the military in 1846 during the War of the Axe. He would retire from the army during the 1860s -- the retirement age was about 45 -- and thereupon would set up a trading business in the Fort Grey area near East London.

Arnold bought a farm at Amalinda but then moved to East London itself where he made a living as a hotelier, being at various times the owner of the Boarding Establishment and the Commercial Hotel on the West Bank, as well as the Railway Hotel on the East Bank.

In May 1873 he was elected to the very first Municipal Board as a representative for Ward 1 (West Bank) but resigned in August 1874 without having served a full term.

This was when East London was at the start of a rather short period of growth at the end a rather long era of recession. The discovery of diamonds in Griqualand West in 1868 saw imports through East London increase rapidly when it was found that this port was the closest to the Diamond Fields.

The growth in trade was presumably accompanied by an increase in traders and wagon drivers who needed a place to stay at East London. This meant that John Arnold's hotels would have become very busy indeed. It is no wonder, then, that he could not find the time to continue sitting on the Municipal Board.

He died on 27 August 1905 at the age of 80, and was buried at East London.

See also:

Contact: The Project Coordinator