Fort Schanskop

Fort Schanskop Image source

After the Jameson Raid in 1896, Pres Paul Kruger of the “Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek” decided to protect Pretoria by constructing forts in strategic places. Eight forts were to be built initially, but due to a shortage of funds, only four were completed. Germans designed three of the four forts, Schanskop being one. The fort was also built by the German firm Krupp, was completed on 6 April 1897 and cost £47 500. Christiaan Kuntz was in charge of construction and Celso Giri the building contractor. Black labourers carried out the actual construction work, while Italian and Dutch experts presided over the technical aspects. All three German designed forts, namely Wonderboompoort, Schanskop and Klapperkop, were the pentagonal reinforced type, with revolving artillery. The walls were also crenellated for improved defence, enforced by trenches and barbed wire entanglements. The rooms of these forts were reinforced with an embankment, and called casemates. The fort had a double entrance gateway, and was commanded by Lieutenant A. Carlblom. The fort had electricity and searchlights powered by paraffin. Lightining conductors, a heliograph, an underground telegraph connection and a telephone were also installed. Fort Schanskop shared a pumping station with Fort Klapperkop, and running water came from the Apies River in the Fountains Valley. The garrison was initially armed with one officer, 30 men and armaments. However, both the garrison and armaments were gradually reduced during the course of the Second Anglo-Boer War. On the premises one can find a scale model replica of the Trek Monument that was inaugurated in Tanzania in 1954. . Fort Schanskop was declared a National Monument under old NMC legislation on 29 June 1938 and is a Gauteng Provincial Heritage Site.

Due to budget cuts the SA Defence Force was forced to hand both museums back to the State by 1994. The Voortrekker Monument and Nature Reserve successfully tendered to purchase Fort Schanskop (without contents) from the City Council of Pretoria for an amount of R400,000. The Fort was transferred to said Section 21 Company during June 2000, where which an extensive programme was launched to renovate and extend the Fort.
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Last updated : 13-Sep-2017

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