Tag: Boer War

The Kruger House

No reading about the Boer War would be complete without mentioning Paul Kruger, and there is no doubt that he was a significant person in the history of South Africa. His house is situated in Pretoria and is now a museum, so with some spare time I decided to pop in for a visit. 

It is strange to find the residential property of a State President at street level, but from what I read this is what Paul Kruger would have preferred. If anything he was a deeply religious person, not prone to outbursts of emotion, and well loved by his friends and countrymen, and respected by his enemies. Situated in  Church Street, The house was designed by Tom Claridge and built by the builder Charles Clark during 1883-1884. Right across from the house is the magnificent Gereformeerde Kerk Pretoria (aka Paul Kruger Kerk) of 1889.

 

The house is not overly complicated, but is well built and very simple when compared to a house like Melrose House. By 1899 it was one of the few buildings in Pretoria that had electricity and a telephone, although from what I saw water borne sewerage was not on the cards. Paul Kruger and his wife lived there until he left the country in 1900. His wife remained in the house until her death in 1901. The house was bought by the Union Government in 1925 and it was restored and opened to the public in  1934, being declared a National Monument in 1936.  

Sitting Room

A lot of the furniture and fittings do come from the original house, and while it does have a bit of a cluttered old fashioned feel about it I did find it was a very personal house, not really the sort of place that you would expect a  President to live in. 

One of Paul Kruger’s offices

Dining Room

Bedroom

Bedroom


There are also two display halls: The ZAR Hall, and the Exile Hall. 

Exile Hall

The ZAR Hall has some amazing historic artefacts that pertain to the Boer War, as well as many of the awards and gifts give to the President and people of the ZAR. The Exile Hall is more about the period when Paul Kruger fled the country on board the Gelderland, and his subsequent exile in Europe. 
Also on display are an oxwagon, and his state coach.
   
Of special interest to me is the State Railway Coach which is on the premises. Sadly this wonderful old clerestory coach, with its observation platform, is not open to the public. All I could really see inside it were a conference room, sleeping berths and a small kitchen.
 
 According to the information sign, the coach was used by Paul Kruger when he was at Machadodorp and Warterval-Onder, and carried him to Lourenco Marques from where he went into exile. It was restored in 1951 and placed at the museum in 1952. 
 
A final stop in my tour was the kitchen and scullery where some sort of inkling of domestic life was on view. 
 
 
 
Paul Kruger died in Switzerland on 14 July 1904, his body being returned to South Africa and given a state funeral on 16 December 1904. He is buried with his wife and members of his family in Church Street Cemetery.
Out of curiosity, in my visit to the archives in Pretoria I found a document that may have been signed by Kruger himself, ok, he is mentioned in it. 
DRW © 2013-2019. Images recreated 26/03/2016
 
Updated: 29/07/2019 — 11:58

Fort Schanskop

Following my visit to Fort Klapperkop in August 2009, I decided that a visit to Fort Schanskop would also be an idea and filed it away for when I attended the Memorial Service at the SADF Wall of Remembrance in October of the year. 

 

One of four forts constructed in 1897 to protect Pretoria against attacks. It was built by Krupp of Germany and erection by HC Werner was commenced in May 1896. The fort was shaped like a pentagon and had canons placed on rotating platforms on the embankments. It was handed over to the ZAR Government on 6 April 1897.

 
 The forts were surrendered to the British with the fall of Pretoria, and from then on were manned and armed until 1902 by the Imperial Army. The 4 forts were handed to the Defence Force in 1921 and declared National Monuments in 1938. Schanskop and Fort Klapperkop served as military museums but they were closed in 1993 and the forts were purchased by the city council. Schanskop was purchased by the Voortrekker Monument from the city council in June 2000 and was subsequently restored.
 
The whole structure is in a beautiful condition and is well maintained, but again it is let down by a lack or reasons to return. Realistically, once you have seen it you probably will never need to return. There are a number of displays inside the fort depicting life at the fort and exhibits pertinent to the ABW.
 

 

 

 
And of course there are a number of artillery pieces scattered around. 
  
 
Overall though, the fort is very similar to Klapperkop, although it does seem much smaller.
 
 
Like all of the forts around Pretoria it never heard a shot fired in anger, and as such was really just a waste of money. However, the paranoia against the “uitlanders” was very strong in the ZAR Government, and I am sure that at the time they considered it money well spent. 
 
Situated close to the Voortrekker Monument, the view is quite a good one, although there is not too much to see.  
 
 
The other two objects of interest at the fort are the Danie Theron statue, or “Piet Skiet” as we knew him. (The beret badge of the Commando’s featured a likeness of this statue of Danie Theron)
 
and there is also the “Tanganyika Trek Monument”. This is a scale model replica of the Trek monument that was inaugurated on 16 December 1954 in Tanzania to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first Afrikaners who settled in what was then Tanganyika after the Anglo Boer War. 
 
 
 And that was it, time to head off home, both forts in the bag. 
 
DRW ©  2009-2019. Images recreated 08/03/2016
Updated: 09/04/2019 — 06:04
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