Hankey, Eastern Cape


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Hankey is situated on the left bank of the Gamtoos River, 30 km north of Humansdorp. Hankey fills a special page in the history of the London Missionary Society in South Africa. In 1802 this Society founded the mission station, Bethelsdorp, near Port Elizabeth.

In Bethelsdorp rapid settlement took place by many roaming Khoikhoi so as to listen to the preaching of the Gospel and the town soon became too populous for the available water. In 1822, Dr. John Philip, Superintendent of the Society, purchased 1 619 ha of the farm Gamtoos-rivier-Wagendrift, situate on either side of the river, for £1 500 (±R3 000) with a view to moving a section of the residents from Bethelsdorp to this place. He named the new post in honour of the secretary of the Society at the time, W. A. Hankey. Dr. Philip's choice of this place was an excellent one. There was an abundance of water, the land arable and fertile, the pasture good. The Gamtoos River also gives a special beauty to the landscape for here the meandering river cuts its way through the hilly country.

The mission post was laid out at the foot of a ridge next to the Klein River which flows into the Gamtoos River a short distance from there. The first missionary was J. G. Messer.

Any significant structures built between the years 1831 to 1838 could be ascribed to John MELVILL since he was resident there in these years.

Hankey is home to the burial place of Sarah Baartman. Years of negotiation with the French government finally culminated in her remains being returned to a burial place just outside Hankey, her final resting place – a symbol of victory for humanity and of freedom.

List of references:

Fransen, Hans. 2004. The old buildings of the Cape. A survey of extant architecture from before c1910 in the area of Cape Town - Calvinia - Colesberg - Uitenhage. Johannesburg & Cape Town: Jonathan Ball Publishers. pp 526
Oberholster, JJ. 1972. The historical monuments of South Africa. Cape Town: Rembrandt Van Rijn Foundation for Culture at the request of the National Monuments Council. pp 130
Richardson, Deirdré. 2001. Historic Sites of South Africa. Cape Town: Struik Publishers. pp 29

List of structures:

'Apple Express' : Rail Bridge over the Gamtoos River: 1903.
Congregational Church: 1822.
Grace Chapel: 1912.
Interdenominational Church: n.d..
London Missionary Society Produce warehouse: n.d..
Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk: 1920.
Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk: 1958.
Sarah Bartmann Centre of Remembrance: 2010.
William Philip Irrigation Tunnel: 1842-1945.