Old English Fort (Fort Sidney) in Montagu Mountain Reserve & vicinity, Western Cape
The Old English Fort (Fort Sidney) situated on top of the tunnel in Cogmanskloof, approx 4 km out of Montagu on the Ashton Road, was declared a national monument in 1999. Perched high on a rock above the R62 route, it measures 9,3 x 3,8 m on the outside. This well-known landmark is strictly speaking not a blockhouse but a construction of mortared stonework which shares some of the features of a blockhouse.
It has a simple entrance opening at the west end and 21 'waisted' loopholes formed in the masonry without steel plates. The loopholes are 700-800 mm above the concrete floor and the 400 mm thick stone walls reach a height of about two metres inside the building.
Inside the fort, near the south-east corner, is a roughly circular mortared stone platform (400 mm high), together with a drainage channel and hole at the base of the adjacent east wall, which seems to indicate the presence of a water tank and hence a roof.
This Old English Fort was built during the Second Boer War by a local stonemason from Robertson, William Robertson, at a site selected by Lieutenant Colonel Sidney, Commandant of the Royal Field Artillery - and after whom the fort was subsequently named.
Lieutenant Colonel Sidney of the Royal Field Artillery was the commandant in the Montagu - Robertson area. He had forts erected at strategic places to guard the roads that lead via Montagu and through Cogmanskloof to Robertson against "invading" forces of the Boer republics and rebel commandos. The most famous one being Fort Sidney (Old English Fort 1899) above the tunnel at Kalkoenkrans. There are said to have been a total of 6 forts around Montagu,
The fort was garrisoned by a company of the Gordon Highlanders who were survivors of the Magersfontein battle who were commanded by a Lieutenant Forbes. They were camped on the original road construction site which is now the parking area below the fort on the Montagu side.
Montagu had 4 small rectangular forts and a smaller circular one, all of which were instrumental in causing Commandant Gideon Scheepers and his Boer Commando of 300 men to avoid Montagu.
Courtesy of and researched by Alf Boyley, Montagu
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