Thursday, August 4, 2011

Fort Selwyn

The hill overlooking Grahamstown from the east on which the prominent Settlers Monument is situated is called Gunfire Hill.  In 1835 during the 6th Frontier War (there were nine Frontier wars stretching over 100 years) it was decided to built a fort on top of the hill to protect the approaches to the town as well as its resources.  The fort was named after Captain Charles Jasper Selwyn of the Cape Corps of Royal Engineers who was responsible for the design and construction of the fort.

The fort was manned by the Royal Artillery between 1836 and 1862, when most of the garrison was withdrawn from Grahamstown.  It was again manned during the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902, but thereafter it fell into disrepair until its restoration in the 1970's. 

 An interesting story on how the hill got its name is that up until September 1870 a nine o'clock gun was fired from Fort Selwyn every morning, allegedly to remind Grahamstown's civil servants that they should be at work.

In 1845 a semaphore mast was erected as part of a telegraph system that was intended to connect Grahamstown with Fort Beaufort and Fort Peddie to convey messages along the defensive line.  The system however was a huge failure as the masts were often obscured by mists and haze.

Fort Selwyn forms part of the Albany Museum Complex in Grahamstown.


  1. I enjoy seeing history preserved for the future.

  2. Only at work at 9? Gee - let's go back in time.