Scott Balson's trip to South Africa -
15th September 2006 - Port Elizabeth

Perth : Johannesburg : Pretoria : Pietersburg : Pilgrim's Rest : Ladysmith : Champagne Castle : Estcourt : Durban : Ixopo
Kokstad : Port Elizabeth : Plettenburg Bay : Cape Town : Victoria West : Griquatown : Mafikeng : Johannesburg : Perth

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Today I had to travel over 600km - starting at Kokstad and ending at my destination - Port Elizabeth. The route I travelled was along the N2 which took me through Mt Frere to Umtata; then a sharp left at Komga just after the Kei River (bypassing East London), travelling through King Williamstown, Grahamstown and then finally arriving at Port Elizabeth. That night I had dinner with Judge Tom Mullins (see below).

What struck me along the entire journey was the number of sprawling African townships that were now scattered across the countryside. I did not see one other European until I arrived at Grahamstown - the other towns like Umtata were just teeming with people and, I am told, very dangerous even during the day. I never felt threatened and stopped often to take photos without any danger.

The day had earlier started in perfect fashion with Milner Snell taking me to meet Barry Elliot the local lawyer before heading off to work and we said our sad goodbyes. Barry had an original copy of a title deed signed by Adam Kok and had found a spare copy which was somewhat moth eaten - as you can see below but as the Kokstad Museum only had four copies of deeds signed by Kok and Barry the other two - I was absolutely delighted when he gave me the damaged copy.

While half of Kok's signature is eaten away the date (1869) and the Griqua Seal are in perfect condition - the seal  in itself is an extreme rarity.

Spring flowers in Kokstad

Mount Currie revealed

Barry Elliot and the title deed

The extremely rare title deed and

Griqua seal

The deed in Barry's office

I started my nine hour drive at 7.30am - getting into Port Elizabeth shortly after 4pm - the road between Kokstad and Umtata was terrible - slow trucks, bad roads and lots of maniacle black taxi drivers!

On the road from Kokstad

Black shanties - wall to wall

This is Mt Frere today

Umtata

today

Black shanties - wall to wall

The bridge over the Kei River

The shortcut to Port Elizabeth

King Williamstown today

King Williamstown today

The road to Grahamstown

Grahamstown today

Grahamstown today

The 1820 settler

monument

Carla enjoys the view

Road to

Port Elizabeth

Port Elizabeth

My room for the night

When I arrived at Brookes Hill Hotel which overlooks the sea I found that Judge Tom Mullins had already left directions for finding his apartment. At 6pm I drove around to his house and had dinner with Tom and his wife.

Image right: Tom Mullins and his wife Pat

While there Tom showed me a very, very rare book which cannot be found today "Uit die Geskiedenis van Griekwaland-Oos" by E C Coetser and when we could not find a copy on the Internet presented me with his copy.

I was delighted!

Tom Mullins died at home, peacefully in his sleep, on 11 March 2007. He will be remembered as the gentleman he was, a very special man of integrity, love, caring for his family and those around him and beloved husband to his wife Pat.
Our condolences to his family.

Tom Mullins was the undisputed expert on the Mt Currie Express stamp - issued in the 1870s for use in East Griqualand. This very, very rare stamp (seen right) has a fascinating history. His book "The Mount Currie Express, the stamp of East Griqualand" is almost as rare as the stamp itself and an invaluable source of information.

More on Tom and the the Mt Currie Express stamp at this link

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