By the 18th century Dutch settlers realised that Hout Bay could serve as an alternative anchorage to Table Bay. However, successive Dutch and British administrations also perceived that the bay was a useful entry point for an invading military force. Consequently, a number of fortifications were built in the bay, first at the foot of Hangklip and later on the eastern side below Chapman’s Peak. In 1775 France and the Netherlands came out in support of the newly-independent American colonies, and declared war on England. The French established a garrison at the Cape and a battery of cannon pieces on the Western side of Hout Bay. In 1794 this was replaced by three new Dutch forts, named Sluijsken, Gordon and Little Gibraltar. On the 15th Sept 1795 the Dutch guns were fired in anger forcing a squadron of British warships to withdraw from the bay and sail on to Table Bay. Late on the same day the Dutch forces capitulated and handed the administration of the Cape to the British, who made additions to the fort adding a lockhouse, barracks and new cannons. By 1804 these establishments were in need of restoration, by 1827 all had been abandoned. East Fort wasn’t used again for military purposes until World War 2 when an observation post was erected to keep watch over the bay.
East Fort was declared a National Monument on 17 April 1936. The site includes four ruined buildings and a battery of 8 x 18 pdr guns which have been restored, proofed and licensed by the Hout Bay & Llandudno Heritage Association. The guns have been ceremonially fired on many special occasions.
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Hout Bay & Llandudno Heritage Association (HB & LHA)