Defending the Cape (Part 2)

Chapman’s Peak – overlooking Houtbay…arguably one of the best views that Cape Town has to offer. Chappies was named, not after anybody important at the time, not a governor or ships’ captain, but after a humble Ship’s Pilot – the Captain’s Mate – John Chapman. Instructed by the captain of an english vessel, “The Consent”, that was sheltering in the Bay, to find provisions he rowed ashore and  named the Bay Captain’s Chaunce. The famous scenic drive was constructed in the early 20th century, with convicts providing the  labour.

See this site for a nice concise history of Chappies: http://www.chapmanspeakdrive.co.za/history.php

The Dutch and assisted by the French erected the defences in Hout bay in the period 1781-1795. The Dutch were at the time the governorial rulers of the cape, and the French came to assist them in defending against the British.

“The first British attempt at taking the Cape was thwarted in Hout Bay, where the West- and East Fort commanders succeeded in deceiving Commodore Johnstone about the real strength of the armament. Com. Johnstone then sailed to Saldanha Bay and took – to his delight and surprise – four returning, fully laden Dutch East-Indiamen. The Hout Bay forts were simple conventional zig-zag batteries, with stationary gun platforms, lying low on the horizon above the water’s edge”

Credit for this extract goes to South African History Online and Ute A Seemann  (April 2010) http://www.sahistory.org.za/places/dutch-and-british-coastal-fortifications-cape-good-hope-1665-1829

Once again I was surprised by Cape Town, I really thought I had seen everything. But I had never actually visited the East Fort, visible below Chapmans Peak Drive overlooking the bay. From the top one can see the single cannon, pointing towards the beach. When I got there I found to my delight that there is a battery of guns to the seaward side.

What a lovely day I spent clambering up and down hillsides to see the best views available…

I am glad to be able to share these with you. 🙂

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