Laingsburg is a small Karoo town 250 km inland from Cape Town. The Buffels River flows along the western side of the town, with ‘flow’ being a rather abstract term most of the time. In 1981, this river flooded with catastrophic results and the suddenness with which the small town was annihilated by flood waters still resonates today.
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.