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John Bate

Architect, Town Councillor & Deputy Mayor

Keith Tankard
Knowledge4Africa.com
Updated: 14 October 2009
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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 Osborn Bate was born at Faversham in Kent in August 1820 and took up the architectural profession. He emigrated to South Africa in 1859, spent three years in Fauresmith and then moved to King William's Town where, together with C.H. Caldecott, he ran the Commercial Advertiser and Agricultural Gazette.

He lived for a time in Grahamstown, then returned to England for 13 years before coming to East London in 1893 where he served as an architect and senior partner in the firm Bate & Jones.

Those were prosperous days for East London. The discovery of gold on the Witwatersrand in 1886 saw trade mushroom through the port. After a very conservative start, the town launched into what can only be called a golden age. More road construction was undertaken than ever before, the harbour underwent an evolution, and the town saw the introduction of both electricity and a tramway system.

John Bate joined the Town Council in March 1899 when, at the age of 79, he was elected for Ward 2, representing the East Bank. He was re-elected unopposed in 1900 but resigned in February 1902 because of ill health. He served a term as Deputy Mayor in 1901.

He died on 21 July 1909 at the age of 88, and was buried at East London.

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