The 4 forts were handed to the Defence Force in 1921 and declared National Monuments in 1938. Schanskop and Klapperkop served as military museums but they were closed in 1993 and the forts were purchased by the city council. Fort Schanskop was purchased by the Voortrekker Monument from the city council in June 2000 and was subsequently restored.
Like many of these old forts this one feels like it was really a waste of money, certainly the “enemy” that it was meant to protect against did not have to fight a pitched battle against it, and realistically it was more lip service to paranoia by the ZAR government than anything else.
The structure is beautifully maintained and on the day I was there I did not see too many visitors. Admittedly that could be because the access road is quite a killer! My poor little car struggled to raise itself up to the crest of the hill where the fort is.
There are a number of interesting exhibits at the museum, especially artillery pieces like the “Long Tom” below
The weapon is a replica of the Creusot siege guns bought from France by the Boers and used extremely effectively during the Anglo Boer War.
I could not help wondering whether the soldiers stationed her were ever chased down the hill with tar poles, or sent to weed the moat?
You can bet that bored soldiers were kept very busy by their superiors, for this is the nature of military service irrespective. You can bet some lazy bugger wangled himself a job operating the fumigation machine.
The problem with static defences like this is that any enemy worth his salt will go around your fort and isolate you very easily and starve you out.
The fort is an interesting place to visit, one of those really strange places that we have in South Africa which don’t quite make sense. But then we are viewing them with hindsight instead of as things were at the time when they were built. Unfortunately though, once you have seen Klapperkop there is no real reason to return, and that is a tragedy because there are only so many potential visitors.
Two other items of interest do exist at the site, the first is Class 6B- 537, formerly from the CGR and Imperial Military Railways.
When I was there she was looking very dilapidated, but was cosmetically restored not too long ago. How they got her up the hill I do not know.
The other oddity is a single decker tram (Brill?) that was in a very poor condition. I believe she may have been cosmetically restored as well.