Fort Amiel was to serve as a commissariat depot, transit camp, and hospital during the Zulu War and the Transvaal War of Independence. Constructed on a knoll overlooking the original wagon drift across the Ncandu River the Fort had a good view over the original town of Newcastle.
The Fort was sold off in 1882 and fell into disuse. During the Anglo-Boer War the knoll and all the surrounding ground was occupied by the British who again used it as a transit camp, military hospital and commissariat.
Restoration only started in 1979 after the site had been declared a National Monument. The discovery of the original plans in a London Museum gave impetus to the restoration work.
Restoration work was undertaken by the Newcastle Town Council in conjunction with the Natal Museum Services. The discovery of the plans assisted greatly in establishing the uses of the various buildings and excavations on the site revealed the foundations of the Magazine, Shell store, and R.E. Store.The buildings were rebuilt on these foundations in 1986. The last of the buildings to be completed were the Officers’ Quarters and the Cook house which were demolished brick by brick and reconstructed.
Today, Fort Amiel houses a historic/cultural museum. Military displays concentrate on the two Anglo-Boer Wars. The display period room depicts the career of Sir Rider Haggard, author of “King Solomon’s Mines” and the Cookhouse is typical of those found at British Army Bases in the 1880’s. The Fort’s canteen houses clothing, bric-a-brac and old photographs from Newcastle’s colourful past while the Guard House has a display of the 80th Regiment and furniture used by the Quartermaster, Captain Perrin.
A recent addition to the Fort is a Zulu Umuzi (hut) with a detailed interior.
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