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The East Bank locations

The Fingo Location
1874 to 1877

Keith Tankard
Knowledge4Africa.com
Updated: 14 October 2009
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Although there had always been a Xhosa village on the western side of the Buffalo River, official sources listed no such township on the eastern bank.

Even when the German settlers arrived in 1857 and 1858 -- thereby creating a ready market for servants -- no "locations" were established.

There was nevertheless a growing Black population on that bank of the river, as Reverend William Greenstock testified in his journal of 1858, but it is probable that they were mostly servants to the Whites and living in their homes.

In 1874 the Town Council was confronted for the first time with problems caused by the absence of an East Bank location when it was realised that employers of large labour forces had no place in which to house their labourers.

Municipal Chairman John Gately pointed out that some spot at Panmure needed to be assigned as a location but the suggestion was not pursued because of a question mark over ownership of municipal commonages.

It had been discovered during a dispute with the government over the collection of hut tax at the West Bank Location that the municipality controlled neither that location nor the unoccupied commonages. This meant therefore that the Council could not establish a location on the East Bank.

Then a peculiar situation arose. The Harbour Works itself established such a location for its Mfengu workers on the Panmure commonage, for which no permission had been sought.

When the Town Council attempted to intervene, it discovered that its hands were tied: because it did not own the commonage, it could neither close not relocate the Fingo Location.

The location therefore remained -- which meant that the first Black township on the East Bank had been unexpectedly thrust upon the municipality.

It is difficult to pinpoint its exact position. It was referred to in April 1877 when a site was chosen for a cemetery on the East Bank, this cemetery being said to be "to the rear of the present native Location".

In 1880 the location was described as being near the Quigney River, while a report in a local newspaper in 1892 placed it on the banks of the Quigney, "immediately above the railway reservoir".

It probably lay on the land which today is occupied by Burmeister's Hardware Store in the Quigney.

In June 1876 the commonage dispute was settled and the locations finally fell under municipal jurisdiction. Attention was then immediately given to the Fingo Location which lay directly in the way of town expansion.

Indeed, by 1877, the East Bank community was growing rapidly as a result of the construction of a railway line to Queenstown, with its terminus at Panmure. The Town Council therefore planned that the land to the east of the Quigney River would be set aside for future suburban development.

Because the Fingo Location was in the way, it was immediately moved to another site close to the Eastern Beach. Thus was created the "Seaside Location".

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