Help uncover mystery over historical key

A HISTORICAL mystery emerged as staff at Port Alfred High School were busy sorting and archiving through documents, records, admission forms, trophies that survived the fire that broke out in the school foyer and offices last year.

During the process, a mysterious display case was discovered containing a key in the inside. The inside of the case is lined with satin and velvet and the key has an inscription on the front that reads; “E. Van Rooyen & Co, Port Alfred, 14.8.1929”. The inscription on the back of the key reads, “Presented to JC Rae MPC, by the contractors”.

Laura Mileham, marketing, alumni and development head at PAHS took the mysterious key to The
Jewellery Shop where John Wilson said the key is made of silver and then bronzed to give it a gold colour finish.

Mileham then contacted Keith Howard who had been the principal of PAHS between 1975 and 1990. Howard said he remembers the story of the handing over of the key to the new school building by contactors when the then Port Alfred Public School moved up the hill from what is fondly referred to as the Old Post Office building in Pascoe Crescent to its present site. This however was the first time that he had seen the actual key.

Colonel Ernest George Harvey was the principal at the time of the move to Alexandra Park.  Enrolment at that time was nearly 200 children and the new school building had all modern conveniences.

At this time it was seen fit to change the name of the school to Queen Alexandra Secondary School as it is believed to be have named in honour of Edward V11’s wife.  The land, now occupied, had previously been set aside and used as a botanical garden bearing the title Queen Alexandra Park.

Heather Howard said that JC Rae was involved in the building of the “replacement bridge” next to the old Putt Bridge in 1931, and the bridge was supposed to be named after him, but it never caught on.

On behalf of PAHS, Talk of the Town appeals to anyone who may have more information about this key, and the story, to please contact Mileham on (046) 624-2440.

“PAHS is 134 years old this year and would love to find a patron to help assist in setting up a museum on the campus,” said Mileham.


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