Fort Klapperkop; Johan Rissik Drive, Waterkloof Ridge, Pretoria
Fort Klapperkop, restored as an Anglo-Boer War museum, offers a permanent exhibition of Anglo-Boer War objects and furniture as well as an insight into the military architecture of a century ago.
Current known heritage status
Fort Klapperkop was declared a South African National Monument in 1938 and is now also a Gauteng Provincial Heritage Site.
Possible interested and affected parties
Department of Architecture, University of Pretoria
Pretoria Institute for Architecture (PIA)
City of Tshwane Heritage Resources Agency (CoTHRA)
The building of Fort Klapperkop, which was named after the fruit of an indigenous shrub, in a way resulted from the Jameson Raid (December 1895 - January 1896). The raid emphasized the possibility of an attack by the British, and the importance of Pretoria being fully prepared in case such an attack should take place. Consequently, a defense plan for the capital was developed by a former French artillery officer, Leon Granberg. According to the initial plan, Fort Klapperkop was supposed to be one of eight strategic positions around the city of Pretoria and was to be fortified by armoured turrets equipped with artillery. However, the armoured turrets were found to be unacceptable and the initial plan of having eight strategic points was substituted by another one, designed by two German engineers, Otto Albert Adolph von Dewitz and Heinrich C. Werner, whose proposal was to build forts instead. Eventually, due to the lack of finances, only four forts were built, Fort Klapperkop being one of them.
On the 18th of January 1898 President Paul Kruger formally opened Fort Klapperkop. The fort was equipped with a paraffin engine power generator for electricity, a telephone and a telegraphic link. Running water was supplied from a pump station in the Fountains Valley. Fort Klapperkop was armed with a 155 mm Creusot gun, a 37 mm Maxim-Nordenfeldt cannon, 3 Martini-Henry hand maxims and a 65 mm Krupp Mountain Gun. Initially, the fort was manned by 17 troops, a number later to be increased to 30. However, gradually all the troops were withdrawn due to the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War. All the artillery pieces were removed as well for the same reason and not even one shot was fired from this fort. When the war was over, Fort Klapperkop kept on serving military purposes, gradually being neglected more and more.
Eventually, in 1966, Fort Klapperkop was restored and declared a military museum. On 31 May 1979 the South African Defence Force Memorial was opened there. The monument represents a statue of a soldier holding an R1 rifle. Around the statue, engraved on marble plaques, one can find the names of all the individuals who lost their lives serving the country.
Description of site and/or structures and/or interior spaces
The fort is built on top of the hill to ensure a proper view in all directions. It is a pentagonal reinforced-stone and red-brick structure with several firerange possibilities through numerous facets. Possible attacks from any direction could be warded off by revolving guns on their rampants. To prevent infantry attacks, loopholes were built into the walls. The design of the fort also incorporated a moat as well as a drawbridge. However, the moat was never filled with water. The fort contains several rooms such as the Stal [stable], Officieren [officers], Proviand [provisions], Manschappen [men], Keuken [kitchen], Machine [machinery], Hospitaal [hospital], Telegraaf [telegraph] and Ammunitie [ammunition], which are now used as exhibition spaces for Anglo-Boer War objects and furniture.
Heydenrych, H. & Swiegers, A. 1999. Discover Pretoria. Hatfield, Pretoria: J L van Schaik.
South African Heritage Resources. 2010. Memphis, Ten.: Books LLC.