Fort Klapperkop

Fort Klapperkop Image source

This was the third fort erected by the German firm Krupp and designed by von Dewitz and Werner. The German forts were of the pentagonal reinforced type, which provided good frontal firing possibilities. Revolving artillery on the embankments of the forts would have been able to ward off attacks from any direction. The walls were crenellated to make defense possible in the event of the forts being surrounded. Trenches and barbed-wire entanglements were erected around the forts as further reinforcement. The rooms, or casements, of the forts were reinforced by covering them with an embankment. By May 1986 planning had been concluded, and in April the head of the "Bantu" workers had gone out to find workers, By the 9th of May the these workers had arrived in Pretoria.  They received 2.5 shillings a month, along with maize meal, meat and tobacco.  By July there were 151 Bantu workers. The fort was constructed with stone from the immediate area. In May an oath of secrecy was taken amongst all those involved.  Approximately 400 “Blankes” (Whites) took the oath, including an architect, engineer, a building contractor and one woman.  The Boers received financial assistance from the German Bank in Berlin.
Various pieces of heavy artillery were placed in the forts as armaments, but not one of the forts was ever fully armed.  The well-known 155mm Creusot cannon (Long Tom) was purchased specifically for the forts and although at a certain stage every fort was armed with a Long Tom, these were withdrawn in the course of time. Fort Klapperkop was surrounded by a moat which had a drawbridge in front.  The moat was never filled as the shale from which it was cut was too porous to hold water.  It nevertheless provided an additional defense mechanism. Forts Klapperkop and Schanskop were effectively placed to defend the southern entrance into the city, of Pretoria.
A paraffin engine generated power at Fort Klapperkop and lightning conductors were erected.  A heliograph and overhead telegraph equipment were installed.  The fort also had a telephone.  A water reservoir, which received water from the Fountains Valley, was built under the provisions room. 
 
In order to further protect the new British capital, a network of blockhouses around Pretoria were erected and incorporated. One was built close to Fort Klapperkop. The Boers did not try to reoccupy this fort, so the fort experienced no further action during the war.
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Last updated : 18-Sep-2017

This article was produced for South African History Online on 14-Jul-2011