A catalyst for Cape of Good Hope Heritage Trust
The South Africa’s mountainous Cape Peninsula stretches from Table Mountain to Cape Point, a distance of about 90 KM. After Cape Town and Simon’s Town, Hout Bay is the third oldest surviving settlement in the country. Located on the Atlantic seaboard, it once served as an important winter anchorage and refuge for “East Indiamen” sheltering from winter storms encountered between Simon’s Town and Cape Town. In 1998 the members of Hout Bay’s Heritage Trust were elated to hear that most of the Cape Peninsula was to become “Table Mountain National Park” (TMNP), a World Heritage Site covering 75% of the Peninsula, the largest Urban Park in the Country. The Park was proclaimed for its rich and unique biodiversity and with the help of International support it has become World famous. Table Mountain has since been elevated to become one of the modern natural wonders of the world.
But there is a sting in this “tale”. Whilst the Park has been funded to conserve its bio-diversity – many of its cultural heritage sites have been left to decay and the heritage authorities have seemingly turned a blind eye. In 2000 a massive bush fire swept the Peninsula and substantial damage was done to the c.1783 East Fort on the slopes of the mountain overlooking Hout Bay. The damage included the old guns and carriages and the Trust resolved to pioneer their restoration. Various attempts were initiated to get the help of the heritage authorities and the Park without success. However, in 2002 the 8 x 18 pdr guns were proofed and licensed. According to Guinness Archives they rate as the oldest working battery of original guns in the World.