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Fort Wonderboompoort (Pretoria)

Overview of Fort Wonderboompoort

Fort Wonderboompoort was completed on 4 September 1897 by the Krupps firm, Von Dewitz and Weiner. Built using the same type of entrance as Fort Schanskop, Fort Wonderboompoort Cost approximately £49 000.

Initially commanded by Lieutenant J. Wolmarans, the fort were manned by 100 men, and was supplied with electricity from a paraffin engine, and also fitted with a lightning detector. Fort Wonderboompoort was quite well equipped with communications equipment, and had telephones and an underground telegraph. Running water was pumped from the Apies River to supply in the Fort's needs.

Fort Wonderboompoort was armed with a 75 mm Creusot Gun ("Long Tom"), a 37 mm Maxim-Norfeld cannon, and a hand-crancked Martin-Henry Maxim. Initially eighteen gunners were stationed in the fort, but both men and armaments were gradually withdrawn until only one gunner and no cannons were left on 5 June 1900.

Today, Fort Wonderboompoort is in ruins, and now forms part of the Wonderboom Nature Reserve.

There are a number of theories as to why and how the fort was destroyed, and include claims that it was blown up by Field Marshal Smuts during the Voortrekker Centenary celebration of 1938, or even later, during the War, to prevent the Ossewa-Brandwag or some other anti-war organization from occupying the fort. Although many theories abound, it is not really clear why Smuts would have done such a thing, and these allegations are mostly dismissed out of hand.

Review of Fort Wonderboompoort

It is a big of a strenuous hike up to Fort Wonderboompoort, starting in the Wonderboom Nature Reserve, but for me, it was an effort definitely worthwhile. Walking around the ruins one would be excused for feeling like a bit of an archeologist, discovering a new and exciting hidden treasure.

Although there are no information boards indicating what was where, this is not much of a problem if you have visited one of the other Pretoria forts before. Fort Wonderboompoort are built using a similar "blueprint" as Fort Schanskop, which gives one a good idea of what it would've been like if it was not in total ruin.

Therefor, I would suggest visiting Fort Schanskop first, before climbing up to Fort Wonderboompoort. One needs the bit of background Fort Schanskop provides, to truly appreciate this ruined fort. And, the views of Pretoria afforded from standing on the Fort wall, are truly magnificent.

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