Blockhouses

Standing beside a provincial road, the R44 just outside Wellington in the Western Cape, is a blockhouse, a remnant of the Anglo-Boer War, one of those erected on the instigation of Lord Milner. There are a number in the area which followed and provided security on the vital link for the British, the rail line between the Cape and the north.

The Wellington blockhouse is the southernmost in the chain. It was constructed of stone with three tiers of loopholes under concrete lintels, with an open, corrugated iron roof.

When the British army first reached Pretoria in 1900 during the South Africa War, Lord Roberts (Commander of British Forces) increasingly realised that the railway was of great strategic importance and that its long lines of communication lay undefended. This was further underlined by the destruction of the railway line and the detrimental effect this had on the transporting of troops and supplies to the front by train.

 

The following updates on the Barberton Block House were sent through by Marius Bakkes and the team from Mpumalanga Heritage. A very tough scenario faced by activists and officials across the country. [Originally published February 2013]

During the South African War of 1899-1902 blockhouses formed an essential part of British military strategy against Dutch forces. Initially these were fairly substantial and were used to guard key military points, but once the war moved into its final stages, they were used, together with barbed wire, as a means of limiting the movement of Republican commandos. All in all, some 8000 blockhouses were built over a period of two years, and although most were eventually dismantled, a number still remain in silent testimony of a bitter and foolish war.

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