Go to the Labyrinth of East London Lore

The East Bank locations

The Seaside Location
1877 to 1879

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.

In 1874 the Harbour authorities at East London had created the "Fingo Location" for its workforce but the village was in the way of municipal expansion into the Quigney.

For a while, nothing could be done about it because a legal oversight had given the municipality no control over its commonages and therefore over its locations but in May 1877, with legal difficulties removed, the municipality immediately chose to move the Fingo Location.

A spot near the sea was chosen. The site was not reflected on any contemporary map but there are references to it in various documents. It was described as being on the commonage at a spot near a government brick yard to the east of the town.

In 1879 the site was referred to as lying behind the sand hills at the Eastern Beach, at a spot near the Blind River. The East London Dispatch of 1892 placed it "above the quarry" on the road to the beach, not far "from what is known as the limekilns".

The Seaside Location's probable site was therefore somewhere close to where the Holiday Inn and the Buffalo Park cricket grounds are to be found today.

Timothy Gordon -- in his thesis on Mdantsane -- wrongly placed the Seaside Location alongside Signal Hill near the Orient Beach. Back then, this beach was called the "Sandy Beach" which Gordon was confusing with "Panmure Beach" or the Eastern Beach.

In any case, Gordon's site was not possible because it lay within a Military Reserve over which the municipality had no control.

Once established, the Seaside Location became home to all the amaXhosa living on the East Bank, and not only just the residents of the Fingo Location.

The mixing of the Christian Mfengu with non-Christians, however, was not seen as ideal because the former had had a long history of collaboration with the British imperial forces and therefore tended to be singled out for special treatment.

As a result, yet another location soon came into existence on the East Bank when, in April 1878, the municipality created a separate location for the Mfengu. Soon they were on the move again, this time to a site near North End that would be called the Wesleyan Location.

The appetite for moving the Black community had now been whetted. Next to go was the entire Seaside Location after only two years of existence.

Indeed, its position revealed the myopic vision of the segregation-minded Town Council because it stood on the route to the Eastern Beach. Since White women frequently bathed there, the presence of the Seaside Location was considered a threat to their safety.

Protests from the Churches that the Council should at the very least grant compensation for the expense of removing the mission buildings recently built there were met with a firm refusal.

See also:

Contact: The Project Coordinator