One of the many difficulties faced by the 1820 Settlers, was accessibility to the outside World. In 1821, the first ship entered the Kowie River and the Settlement of Port Alfred was born.

The Town was originally named Port St.Francis, and endured several name changes over the Years, finally being named Port Alfred in honour of Prince Albert, who was visiting the colony at the time. Wharf Street, the first commercial street in Port Alfred dating back to 1821, now a tourist hub, still has beautifully preserved buildings dating back to that time.

Back in 1841, the potential of the River mouth as a Port was realized, and in 1843 work commenced on the West and East piers, at the new mouth of the Kowie River. From 1863 up to 100 vessels called in annual, but sadly, the Harbour fell into disuse in the 1890’s. This was because the railway line was established between Port Alfred and Grahamstown. The construction of the line was part of the massive expansion of the Cape Colony’s railway system. The steam engines “Kowie” and “Port Alfred” were imported in 1882. The Kowie Museum, now housed in the old Railway Station Building in Port Alfred has a magnificent display on the Railway system.

The Port Alfred Hospital shows little signs of its original purpose, being the largest mental institution in the district by 1841. The caves behind the hospital grounds show evidence showing of convicts, constructing the piers, were housed behind unstable dynamite stores. For 42 Years, the two halves of the Town were linked by a pontoon. Then, in 1906, the foundation stone for the Putt Bridge, linking East and West was laid. The original bridge was demolished and a new bridge constructed in 1989, allowing for 2 lanes of traffic. The famous Nico Malan Bridge spanning the Kowie River on the picturesque R-72 route was constructed in1970.

In 1907, friends W Stow, V Vroom, G Holloway and Dr Jones Phillipson chipped in twenty pounds each and established what is now known as the Royal Port Alfred Golf Club, one of only 5 “Royals” in Africa.

With the outbreak of WW11, the R.A.F. Airforce Base home to 43 Squadron was completed in 1942. Today this facility has grown into 43 Air School, an internationally acclaimed flying school. The Sarel Hayward Dam was constructed in 1986 to alleviate the fresh water problems, but as the Town has grown, more solutions have needed to be sought to meet the demands of the growing community.

In 1989 the scenic and iconic Royal Alfred Marina and small boat harbour was built by visionary, Justin de Wet Steyn.

-33° 35' 5.3189", 26° 53' 9.6"