THE HISTORY OF
THE FORTIFICATION OF PRETORIA
After the failed Jameson invasion of 1896, L Grunberg, a former French artillery officer, recommended to the government of the South African Republic that Pretoria be fortified.
His recommendation was taken to heart, especially as a map with all the ZAR’s access routes, rail links and defences was found in the possession of a British officer. Grunberg was responsible for the planning and construction of Fort Daspoortrand, and two German engineers, OA von Dewitz and HC Werner, drew up the plans for three other forts, namely Fort Schanskop, Fort Klapperkop and Fort Wonderboompoort.
State President SJP Kruger approved the plans on 16 March 1896, and a commission was appointed to oversee the construction: Cmdt. Gen. PJ Joubert, Lt. Col. HPN Pretorius, Capt. PE Erasmus, Capt. FJ Wolmarans, Lt. PC Paff and city engineer E Lutz.
FORT SCHANSKOP IS BUILT
The German firm Krupp built the three forts of Schanskop, Klapperkop and Wonderboompoort. Fort Daspoortrand was built by the French firm Schneider, Grunberg and Léon.
In May 1896, the contractor HC Werner began construction on Fort Schanskop. The workforce consisted of more than 400 white and black people who worked day and night. This explains why the fort could have been manned as early as December 1896 by a lieutenant and almost 50 men, even though the construction work had not yet been completed. Schanskop was strategically placed so that attacks from the direction of Johannesburg, in particular, could be repelled from there. This pentagonal fort could also repel attacks from other directions with artillery on turn platforms on the fort walls.
Fort Schanskop was officially taken over by the government of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek on 6 April 1897 and was visited by President SJP Kruger the next day.
ARMING AND COMMUNICATION
While the forts were under construction, the necessary artillery was ordered. It was mountain artillery, which was a wise choice because the cannons would later perform excellent service on the war front. Garrison ordnance could only serve a purpose at the forts.
In 1899, Fort Schanskop had one Schneider/Creusot 155 mm siege cannon or Long Tom and two 37 mm Maxim-Nordenfelts or Pom-poms with 500 rounds of ammunition. The garrison consisted of an officer and 30 men from the Transvaal State Artillery. For the time being, it was ordinary artillerymen who manned the forts, but 100 artillerymen received special training in handling garrison ordnance. Yet the crew and artillery were never adequate.
Fort Schanskop was with the help of above-ground telegraph wires connected to the artillery camp in Pretoria and telegraphically to Johannesburg. The respective forts could heliographically communicate with each other. One of the fort’s casemates (bombproof room) was specially equipped for the Transvaal Field Telegraphy.
THE INTAKE OF PRETORIA
Lord Roberts took Pretoria on 5 June 1900 without any opposition. No shot was fired from the forts at British forces, as they have already been disarmed.
The first military train with a division of the State Artillery left Pretoria on 28 September 1899 and left for the Natal border. The division consisted of 60 men with 6 cannons, 8 ammunition wagons and 105 horses. Later, on 11 October 1899, about 400 artillerymen under the command of Commandant-General Piet Joubert crossed the Natal border.
On 4 June 1900, British forces bombed the forts around Pretoria all afternoon, causing consternation in the city. Eventually, only one man was found in each of them to surrender it. Fort Schanskop was disarmed as the two Maxims and the Long Tom had meanwhile been moved to the Natal front. During the British occupation, the British regarded the forts as crown possessions and thoroughly manned and armed them.
Here we are talking about that cultural visit. It’s high time to kick off shoes and light the fire. Come and braai, while you and your friends enjoy a view of Jacaranda city. The Fort Schanskop Lapa is equipped with bathroom facilities and braais. It is the ideal place to enjoy a visit, end-of-year function or birthday celebration.
THE FOLLOWING IS AVAILABLE
FORT SCHANSKOP AMFITHEATRE
Are you an artist looking for a place to hold your next music concert? Maybe you are a teacher/group leader who wants to organise a youth activity outdoors? Entertainment and comfort at your cultural home are important to us, which is why the area is also wheelchair-friendly with bathroom facilities. We look forward to receiving you.
THE FOLLOWING IS AVAILABLE