Feather Market Hall

Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Feather Market Hall in Baakens Street, Port Elizabeth, was built between 1883 and 1885 as a natural extension to the marketplace. The building was officially opened by Sir Hercules Robinson to coincide with the opening of the South African Exhibition inside. It seats 1000 people cinema style or can handle a banquet with up to 700 guests.

It served as an auction room during the ostrich feather boom lasting until World War I as well as a popular entertainment venue.

The building has the unique distinction of being designed to fit the roof which was constructed in England under the supervision of the English civil engineer, Sir John Wolfe-Barry. The original plans were abandoned after construction of the roof had already started so the Council engaged William Henry Miles to design a new building to fit the roof.

On June 15, 1893, Frank Henry Bradley inaugurated the new organ. Plans for the acquisition of an organ went back to the completion of the Town Hall when an organ fund was started and added to regularly.

When Norman Bros and Beard of Norwich built "the largest and most powerful instrument ever heard in South Africa" for the 1892 Kimberley Exhibition, the organ was well described and advertised in the local papers. As the organ was to be sold at the end of the exhibition, the Port Elizabeth Town Council decided to purchase it for the excellent price of 2 000". The Feather Market Hall was selected as the site for its installation. Walter Henry Baker, the organist at St Mary's Church and the conductor of the Philharmonic Society, was appointed Town Organist.

On September 16, 1893, Roger Ascham gave his first recital on the organ and on January 1, 1895, he was appointed as the new Town Organist. During his lifetime he gave over 1 000 organ recitals.

In 1908 the facade, designed by Arthur Butterworth, was added to the building.

The original Feather Market Hall has been renamed the Selley Hall and is the largest and oldest venue in the Centre.

Feather Market Convention Centre

In 1993 the newly revamped building was reopened as the Feather Market Convention Centre and is now a conference/exhibition centre and concert hall.


Urquhart, Colin 2002. Pictorial Port Elizabeth. Hunters Retreat, Port Elizabeth: Bluecliff Publishing.

South African History Online [1].

Margaret Harradine. 1995. Port Elizabeth: A Social Chronicle to the End of 1945. Port Elizabeth: E.H. Walton Packaging (Pty) Ltd.

Margaret Harradine. 2004. Hills Covered with Cottages. Port Elizabeth. Port Elizabeth Historical Society.

Return to

Return to South African Theatre Venues, Companies, Societies, etc

Return to The ESAT Entries

Return to Main Page