St George's Park History
Port Elizabeth, South Africa

The Park St George's Park - The Horse Memorial
The Horse Memorial

The unveiling of the monument commemorating the services of the horses which perished during the Anglo Boer War, 1899-1902, took place on Saturday afternoon, February 11, 1905, with His Worship the Mayor, Mr A Fettes, performing the ceremony.

The statue used to occupy a very suitable position, close to the junction of Park Drive and Rink Street, next to St George’s Park, but was moved to its present position in Cape Road in the 1950s.

There was very good attendance including the Grey Institute Cadet Corps.

Click image to enlarge
The unveiling of the famous Horse Memorial in February, 1905. The statue used to stand on an island in Rink Street, near St Georges Park, before it was moved to it's present location in Cape Road.

One of the principal reasons for Port Elizabeth taking such an interest in the movement, which started in 1901, was the fact that most of the horses brought to this country were landed here.

A ladies committee was formed with Mrs Harriet Meyer as president and £800 was collected for Messrs Whitehead and Sons, of Kennington and Westminster, to erect the statue.

The horse stands 16 hands 2 inches and the figure of the soldier is life size.

The inscription on the base reads:

“The greatness of a nation depends not so much upon the number of its people or its territory,
as in the extent and justice of its compassion.”

The Mayor said in his speech “The unveiling of this monument marks the completion of what has been an arduous undertaking on the part of those ladies with whom the idea of raising a monument to the horses originated.

Click image to enlarge
The famous Horse Memorial used to stand on an island in Rink Street, at St Georges Park, before it was moved to it's present location in Cape Road.
“To raise a monument to the “brutes” that perish is considered by many to be misplaced sentiment, while some are inclined to think with Louis Wain “that all animals have their season of happiness in a hereafter before their final effacement, as a reward for the trials they undergo in life, while under the dominion of man.”

In addition to the memorial proper, there is a drinking trough for horses and cattle, and the wants of the thirsty wayfarer are also provided for. The design as a whole is an object lesson in kindness, and may appeal to the cruel or careless driver, and teach him that there are some who do not think it beneath them to attend to the wants of animals placed under their charge.

At this juncture he unveiled the statue, which had been covered with a large and beautiful Union Jack.

Mrs Meyer said: “Mr Mayor and Town Councilors, I have much pleasure in handing over to your care for public use, the South African War Memorial Trough.

May it be preserved from generation to generation as a mark of the services of dumb animals to mankind, both in the labours of peace and in the perils of war.”

Click image to enlarge
An early view of the Horse Memorial with the old Howitzer and Artillery Memorial in the background.
The Mayor said on behalf of the Town Council he willingly undertook the care of that monument.

Rev A Hall tendered a vote of thanks to Mrs Meyer.

It was an equestrian statue and it involved that someone should do a great deal of work in connection with it.

To use a figure of speech, he begged to say that Mrs Meyer had worked like a horse.

Three cheers being given for Mrs Meyer, the proceedings terminated by the singing of the National Anthem, an adjournment afterwards being made to a marquee inside St George’s Park, where refreshments were partaken of.

Eastern Province Herald
February, 1905.

Still No Water in Water Troughs

When the Horse Memorial was originally built, it was intended that water be supplied for horses.

At a meeting of the Port Elizabeth Town Council in August, 1905, and with regard to making arrangements for the taps for human drinking purposes at the Horse Memorial water trough in Rink Street to be turned on and made available for the public, the Board of Works cannot recommend this being done for the following reasons:

1) There is no push button arranged, so that the water must either be shut off or running continuously.
It would not be possible to arrange such a tap without cutting right into the granite and altering the arrangement completely.

2) This trough is at present a playground for children and has to be regularly cleared of stones, grass, broken bottles, etc. etc.
It would be worse if a running tap were provided.

3) The push button tap recently fixed in Cooper’s Kloof was smashed and knocked up with stones by children in a very few days after fixing.

4) The drinking cups are so arranged as to fall into the trough from which the horses drink.

5) With two of the three heads plugged, a single stream will consume 500 gallons of water in 12 hours.

Click image to enlarge
The Horse Memorial was used as a backdrop for a motor car ad in the 1950s.
Mr Fox-Smith was of the opinion that the fountain should be allowed to run for a month in the way of giving it a trial.

Money had been subscribed for the purpose of erecting the fountain, yet the Board of Works in their wisdom said it was not to be used. They had no drinking fountain anywhere near St George’s Park, and altogether he considered the objections put forward by the Board were unreasonable.

Again, if they agreed to the suggestions it would be casting a slur on the ladies and gentlemen who subscribed for the fountain.

Mr T Morgan seconded.

Mr James Newton did not think it was safe to drink from a fountain where horses secured water.

Mr Whitehead also expressed himself in favour of the motion, which was ultimately carried.

Eastern Province Herald
August 17, 1905.

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