East Fort is not an architectural gem. It was designed by British Military Engineers, constructed in +/- 1796 and was not built by stone masons or builders of repute. A few years earlier the French selected the site for its elevated and strategic location, mounting several guns en barbette (i.e. side by side) behind an earth mound or glacis. We believe that the stone revetments at the lower battery were later built by the British together with traversing platforms. The first recorded traversing platforms were built by the British were in 1794 so it is likely that they were the first such platforms constructed in the Cape. It would be nice to reconstruct the platforms which would be the only ones of their design in the country. However, examples do exist elsewhere and accurate replicas coule easily be made.
East Fort Restoration?
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.
When is a Ruin not a Ruin?
It’s a bit like the question: -
Is a glass half-full or half-empty?
We believe East Fort is not a Ruin and can be RESTORED.
If you disagree,
why not ask a consultant ?
The Fort’s upper precincts were hurriedly built by British soldiers and slaves most likely from Kronendal Farm. The stone was locally quarried (sandstone) and the technique used to create the walls was in a coarsed random rubble style with a filled cavity of packed coarse-sand and clay mix. The sketched wall section (left) shows how each course was in the form of a cavity wall with large acceptably faced stones facing outward. The cavity being filled with clay and local sand mix. Each course of large stones was then levelled with smaller flat stones in preparation for the next row of large stones. As TM sandstone is sedimentary it is relatively easy to split into smaller stones to fit in the filled cracks.
The technique of construction (above left) was logical and simple. There was no time or need for dressed masonry or frills. The emphasis being on how the site could defend an attack and accommodate up to forty soldiers. The construction was probably familiar to farm workers, who had build many out-buildings in the valley, and the accommodation of the military design was not difficult.. The Block House, Store, Cookhouse, and Sentry Box appear to have been plastered with lime mortar which could easily be replaced with a more durable substitute if necessary. It is said that the exterior walls were “painted yellow”, i.e. probably lime-washed an ochre colour. It’s likely that much of the stone that went into the Forester’s Cottage was recovered from the Block House’s fallen walls which became progressively unstable through time.
Back to Restoration V/s conservation.