Cape region of our country offers the discerning traveler a view
into a fascinating and colourful history. The little coastal town
of Hout Bay has its own incredible military story to tell.
reflects the history of not only the Cape, but of many world happenings
dating back to Van Riebeeck’s arrival at the Cape in 1652.
the colony was 100 years old, the military significance of Hout
Bay, as well as Cape Town, became of global importance. Britain
and France were at war and the American War of Independence was
raging (1775-1783). Protection of the trade route to the East
Indies was crucial. The Netherlands and Great Britain also declared
war during this period.
was considered adequately protected, but Hout Bay with its easy
access from the beach was completely open to invasion –
placing Cape Town in danger. It was therefore necessary to take
On the first
of May 1781, the Dutch Political Council decided in principle
to build a twenty cannon battery at the western entrance to Hout
Bay (Fort West as it is known today.) The fort was just a few
months later put to use to protect four Dutch East Indiamen that
took shelter in the bay to escape the British Naval Fleet, and
successfully deterred an attack by a British Frigate.
who virtually controlled the Netherlands, became involved and
sent a French mercenary regiment to protect the Cape from British
occupation. Indian Sepoys and Irish troops were part of the French
contingent, which was welcomed by the Dutch authorities.
(the Pondicherry Regiment) then built the earthworks of the East
Fort on the slopes of Constantiaberg to further protect the bay,
fort was built to protect the rear of both the East and West Forts,
to repel a Hout Bay beach landing. This was called the Klein Gibraltar
of Hout Bay took place in 1795 when the British sent in a frigate
to test the fortification of the bay. Both East and West batteries
fired on the ship and proved that these were effective in deterring
an invasion. This was the last recorded time that the East Fort
guns were fired in anger. Soon afterwards, the British took control
of the Cape and further strengthened Hout Bay's defenses - ironically
this time against a retake by the French and Dutch.
the VOC mark can still be seen on these sites in Hout Bay.
& Llandudno Heritage Trust is active in protecting the history
of Hout Bay. You can watch the cannons being fired on a regular
of the Cape of Good Hope Heritage