Power players inspired by their love of the Bay

Guy Rogers

WHEN a London pub owner arrived in Port Elizabeth in 1820 on the Sir George Osborn, one of the earliest settler ships, he could never have dreamed of the force his family would become.

Little is known about Henry Lovemore before he left England, although there was a story that he was the son of George IV, and that he made money trading rum in the West Indies.

The story seemed credible, not least because he named some of his earliest land acquisitions in Port Elizabeth, including Bushy Park and Deer Park, after royal residences in England.

But Bernard Johnson’s biography of the family has revealed this story is untrue, laughs present-day Lovemore scion Chris, 43.

“Henry’s dad’s name was Zebedee, and Henry owned a pub in London called The White Bear. We’re descendents of a pub owner – not a king!”

Henry parcelled off his land to his sons (he had four wives and 13 children) and the suburbs of Lovemore Heights, Heatherbank and Charlo (named after his son Charles) were born.

Charles was a councillor and entrepreneur, who expanded the family empire until it included almost all the coastal land from Seaview to the top of the William Moffett Expressway.

Mark Lovemore, 84, the oldest living member of the family in Port Elizabeth, is the son of Robert and grandson of William Baillie Lovemore. He and his wife Helen have daughters, Robyn and Jennifer. Mark and Helen now live in Lovemore Park.

Mark’s dad, Robert was a fine pilot, but he was not cut out to be a farmer.

So it was with relief he received a call from his chum Alistair Miller – who gave his name to the original PE Airport and the road now running past it. He was also Mark’s godfather. Both men were honoured during the war with the Distinguished Service Order for gallantry, bestowed by the king. They established Union Airways, which went on to become SAA.

A cousin of Mark’s, David, joined Andrew Savage and they established Savage & Lovemore – which became one of the biggest road companies in Africa.

After graduating at UCT with a business science degree, Chris was set to live in the Mother City. Then his dad became ill and Chris came back to Port Elizabeth. “We then realised what a friendly place the Bay was.”

A property developer, farmer and businessman, Chris lives with wife Ellen and their four children; David, 2, Hilton, 8, Amy, 13, and Cameron, 11, in Heatherbank.

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