Hout Bay’s East Fort was established in 1782-3. Its construction was precipitated by an abortive British attempt to take the Cape in 1781, which was repulsed by the Dutch and their French allies with the help of the Pondicherry Mercenary Regiment, under the Command of Col Thomas Conway, then based in what is today known as Puducherry on the Carnatic Coast of India, about 70 km South of Madras (now Chennai).
The challenge in a “Nut Shell” for Hout Bay’s East Fort
From an early stage, going back as far as 2000, the organisation has tried to capture the interest and participation of our heritage and tourism authorities to help conserve East Fort and establish it as a Heritage Tourism Destination. Its deteriorating condition is due to the neglect of the statutory agencies responsible for its conservation some of whom apply draconian legislation on the private owners of listed heritage sites but virtually ignore sites owned by the State. The Association has tried hard to demonstrate the importance of the site which left to the authorities and the legal minefield surrounding it would most likely be lost forever. East Fort has been a part of Hout Bay for over 200 years but since it became “protected” following the promulgation of the National Heritage Resources Actand the creation of the Table Mountain National Park (Proclaimed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site) the fabric of the site has substantially decayed. This is the story of what the Association has done and what they feel still needs to be done to secure it as a showpiece Heritage Tourism destination of International significance which could be a great tourism asset to Hout Bay, the City of Cape Town, Table Mountain National Park and South Africa. It has been a long struggle against formidable resistance. There are many players and none have shown themselves accountable for the neglect. Sadly, Hout Bay’s Apostle Battery and West Fort are similarly challenged but the following story specifically highlights East Fort which probably has the greatest Heritage Tourism potential. This website section is extensive and we hope that we have covered all the salient points leading to a possible solution for East Fort and many other sites across the Province.
A nation that turns its back on its history, the lessons and experiences of the past, good or bad, undermines the foundations of its future.
Hout Bay’s East Fort was built before “South Africa” existed and has historic International connections with four modern countries. It also has a connection with a fifth, Sweden. All the guns at the Fort were Swedish made and purchased by the VOC. Six of the guns were made in the town of Finspång by a company which eventually became “Bofors”, the well known Scandinavian Arms manufacturer and one of the oldest companies in the World.
This site invites your comment and we would be delighted to have your suggestions and ideas. The section closes with the “The Solution?” which to some will be controversial. However, we genuinely feel that its a “best option” route. We’d be happy to have your comments at HB.Heritage@zsd.co.za
In a nut-shell ..............We need to find where we went wrong.........and avoid repeating the same mistakes........Come up with solutions instead of complaints........and prove they can work!