The Portrait Gallery of local mayors, almost complete dating from 1889, was given to the Museum on loan by the Ndlambe Municipality when the museum’s new home inside the railway station was being set up.
Many of the mayors are in “full dress uniform” with mayoral robes, some with the mayoral chain, others are more casually dressed in family photos donated later by descendants. When Mayor Louis Gluckman died in the early 1970s, no photo of him could be found so his wife Sylvia, an artist, painted one from memory in colourful oils for the collection.
The mayoral chain appears in portraits only from the mid-1960s, which was when a retired philanthropist living here noticed that there was no chain for ceremonial occasions, and promptly donated one.
The first portrait is of Henry Putt, our first mayor from 1889 to 1894 with a year’s break in the middle.
Mayor Walter H Vroom was mayor no less than five times between the years 1911 and 1937. He left his mark in many other ways in Port Alfred, building the hotel nearest west beach (now The Ferryman’s), and being a joint founder of the Royal Port Alfred Golf Club in 1907.
His daughter Iris Holloway was later mayor (1968-70) and both have roads named after them, one off Princes Avenue and one in Station Hill. Iris was a great tree planter and was responsible for the rows of coral trees up Southwell Hill and in Dickinson Road.
The second mayor after 1994, Eric Jauka, was a young man of great goodwill who took and failed his driving test many times, in order to drive the mayoral car. Sadly he was killed in a motor accident on the Peddie road while in office.
There are many stories about the colourful men and two women who have had the character and leadership qualities to be mayors of Port Alfred.
Visit the Kowie Museum and acquaint yourself with all of our mayors.