East Fort is on the slopes of Chapmans Peak, on the Cape’s No 1 Scenic Route. It has historic links with five countries world-wide, South Africa being the sixth. A truly International Heritage Site. It is 20 - 30 mins from Cape Town and is an enclave within a World Heritage site. It is owned by the SA Defence Force but appropriated to the Table Mountain National Park. Its Military History commenced in 1782 when it was selected as the sister location for a second battery to support West Fort on the other side of the Bay completed during the previous year. However, its origins go back to 1755. It was originally constructed by the French Pondicherry Mercenary Regiment stationed in the India enclave of the same name. East Fort’s guns sounded on the 15th Sept 1795 to defend an intrusion of a British Naval squadron. On the evening of that day the Dutch administration capitulated and the British first occupation ensued. Hout Bay’s gun’s were probably the last to be fired in anger and remained silent for over 200 years. The Fort’s fascinating has been part of World History for many years and is waiting to be “told”.
1.This document was first compiled in 2011. It is now 2018 and we still haven’t got to First Base!
2. The latest Park Management Plan grades East Fort as a “Quiet Zone”. The Fort is located on the Cape’s No 1 tourism artery which bisects the site and large busses as well as cars travel the route 365 days/yr. (A rating of “Quiet” is irrational.)
3. The suggestions above are not intended to be complete but need further discussion with the parties concerned.
The various management policies declared regarding the conservation of Table Mountain National Park’s cultural heritage sites has been revised at +/- five year intevals commencing in 1998: -
By investigation of the above documents (most of which can be down loaded from this site) one can confirm that the Park has made little effort to conserve or restore East Fort in the 20 years that it has been entrusted to it. The major problem is that of funding, which is a common problem, whereby plans are not accompanied by realistic budgets. This practice would appear to give SOEs an excuse for lack of delivery. The same action items are repeated on subsequent plans but rarely materialise. Why? A main reason is indeed funds but another reason is the lack of input and participation from communities who would like to participate and make a significant contributions in many cases.
There are hundreds of Heritage sites in the 20 municipalities of the Western Cape. They are all different and require different solutions regarding their conservation. Some have special merit and are obvious choices as “heritage tourism destinations”. However, some are inaccessible or are too distant from tourist routes and would require exhorbitant funding to save them for little return. We believe that East Fort is a good example of a site with good heritage tourism potential and we use it as an example. No doubt that there are many more sites of equal merit around the Province and invite you to contact us so that we can add you to our list of interested parties at: - HB.Heritage@zsd.co.za
A draft vision for East Fort
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.