Tuesday, 1 September 2015

The Castles of the veld


Blockhouses that look like fanciful little castles of the South African War in 1899-1902
They were all intended to keep the ever-mobile Boers from accessing British supply lines. 
On a road trip through South Africa you'll often come across these little castles, 
standing in a field or on the outskirts of a town or on a hill overlooking a highway. 
Life in a blockhouse generally consisted of a few British soldiers under a hot tin roof. 

More than 90% of their time was spent in boredom. 
The soldiers kept themselves busy with gardening and the cleaning of equipment. 
Then there was that 10% of white-hot action, when the Boers came visiting.
For the purposes of this blog post a 'masonry blockhouse' is a structure of mortared 
stonework or concrete, one to three storeys in height, with a roof of timber and 
corrugated iron, with rifle ports, windows and doors protected by loopholed 
steel plates and with or without steel machicouli galleries.
 A machicouli had a ‎Post-medieval use for through objects onto the enemy 

It took 30 Royal Engineers all of 30 days, on average, to cut the stone and
construct one at a cost of £900. 
Royal Engineers built a total of 441 masonry blockhouses through out South Africa during the War.   
We would like to introduce you to the Reservoir Blockhouse at Harrismith
The Reservoir Blockhouse exhibit a gabled roof, with vertical corrugated cladding on the gable ends and the roof is cut back over the machicouli galleries. There is loopholes on each side of the entrance at first floor level. The small monopitch roofs and vertical cladding covering the galleries on the Reservoir Blockhouse at Harrismith represent another original variant to the design.
The oldest photo we could find of the Reservoir Blockhouse after completion 
A photo taken during the War of the Blockhouse and its occupants.
They kept animals for companion and planted gardens 
You can see this soldier and his dog  
Today the blockhouse is a National Monument and it can be reached by foot in the 
Platberg Eco Reserve.  It is almost a 2 km walk  

A sign showing the way 
A steep route of up and down to the blockhouse 
A sign asking for respect 

The Gallery 

A little bench to sit an take-in all the detail 
Close-up of a rifle portholes
Some of the graffiti on the walls read
J Rickup 4 M. Riffles 
David Hunter Brisbane 
F W Difield 
C Clark 1037 
The roof construction

I hope that you have find something interesting in the history of South Africa  
Lots of Love 

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