Historic 94-year-old East London Campus Main Building gets a facelift

Read time: 2 mins

Regarded as the heart of the University of Fort Hare’s (UFH) East London Campus, the iconic 94-year-old Main Building on 50 Church Street is undergoing renovations. On a visit earlier today, we found construction workers hard at work, and with a white coat of paint on, signs of transformation are already visible.

Built in 1930, the old Wool Exchange Building was the centre of wool trade in the Eastern Cape from its construction until 1981 when the wool trading was moved down the coast to Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth).

In 1982 the building was reopened and served as a satellite campus for Rhodes University and additional buildings were bought and converted for academic use. Its incorporation into UFH began in the early 2000’s under the late Minister of Education Kadar Asmal’s nationwide restructuring of higher learning institutions in South Africa.

As a campus building, its growth can be measured by the substantial increase of the number of student intake, from its first intake of 50 while it was still Rhodes University to now serving approximately 5000 UFH students on the East London campus yearly.

Today the building houses spaces such as the offices of the Vice-Chancellor, those of the Deputy Vice-Chancellors, the Disability Unit, the ABC Hall and the Ashton Chubb Lecture Hall.

According to Mr Lungisa Gongxeka, UFH Interim Director for Properties and Service, the scope of the work to be carried out includes removal of the existing roof covering and replacement of aluminum roof sheeting; painting of existing external walls; painting of circulation space internal walls; refurbishment of ablution facilities; and removal and replacement of floor finishes for all circulation areas. 

The maintenance work is anticipated to be completed at the end of next month.