Next time when you are leaving the Fountains Circle and turning South onto the R21, about a kilometer further on, treat yourself and take the turn off to Fort Klapperkop…in store are some fabulous vistas over Pretoria as well as a bit of history, so for now, come with me.
Before entering the fort, I pause for a moment at the South African Defense Force memorial. Unveiled in 1979, the bronze soldier with his R1 rifle is silhouetted against the Pretoria skyline.
After the failed Jameson raid, shortly before the Anglo-Boer War, the government of President Paul Kruger decided Pretoria needed to be fortified.
A defence plan was drawn up by former French artillery officer and military engineer, Leon Grunberg. He identified 8 strategic places. But because his plan could not provide sufficient accommodation for a large number of soldiers, it was rejected.
An alternative plan of 2 German engineers, Van Dewitz and Werner, was accepted. A building commission chaired by Commandant General Piet Joubert, was to manage the activities. Owing to a shortage of money only 4 forts were completed: Schanskop, Daspoortrand, Wonderboompoort and Klapperkop.
Fort Klapperkop was the 3rd fort to be erected by the German firm Krupp. It was completed on 18 January 1898.The fort is surrounded by a moat and has a drawbridge at the front. The moat was never filled with water as the shale from which it was cut, is too porous.
The bomb proof magazine and other apartments were built of concrete.
Various pieces of heavy artillery were placed in the forts as armament, but none of the forts was ever fully armoured. At a certain stage every fort was armed with a Long Tom, however, they were withdrawn to be deployed elsewhere with war looming.
A paraffin engine generated power at Fort Klapperkop. All 4 forts were the most modern for their time and were the first to have telephonic communication.
A water reservoir, which was supplied from the Fountains valley, was built under the provisions room.
An impressive writing desk of General Piet Joubert as well as a house organ was donated by his family, with his boots at the ready !!
Despite all the planning and immense cost of the project to the State, not a single shot was fired from any of the 4 forts at the advancing enemy.
The British occupied the forts on the 5th of June 1900, without encountering any resistance. They used the forts as observation posts during the occupation of Pretoria.
The forts were completely evacuated after 1902 and started to decay. In the 1960’s serious attempts were made to restore both Klapperkop and Schanskop to their former glory, to the enjoyment of this recent visitor.
Well worth the effort and the R9 entrance fee !! Heaps of safe parking, well kept gardens and good rest rooms.