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Fort Frederick
Port Elizabeth district, Eastern Cape

ROYAL ENGINEERS: Architect

Date:1799
Type:Fort
Status:Extant


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33°57'59.37" S 25°37'17.17" E
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No shot was fired in anger from the stone bastions of Fort Frederick, the oldest surviving British fortification in the Eastern Cape. It overlooked Algoa Bay at the mouth of the Baakens River, which at one time was wide, opening out into a lagoon. In 1799 General Dundas ordered a blockhouse to be erected near the beach in order to command both the landing place and the ford across the Baakens River. At the same time, on the hill above, he built a fort consisting of another wooden blockhouse, surrounded by a massive square redoubt of stonework, with walls 24m long and 2,7m high. Both wooden forts were constructed in Cape Town and then taken round to Algoa Bay by sea - early examples of prefabricated military buildings ready-made for erection on site. Just without the walls is the grave of Capt Francis Evatt, who commanded the Fort from 1817-1850. The fort was named after Frederick, Duke of York, Cornmander-in-Chief of the British Army - 'The grand old Duke of York, he had ten thousand men, he marched them up to the top of the hill, and he marched them down again . . .'

Wording on the Historical Monuments Commission plaque:

FORT FREDERICK 1799-1868
FIRST PERMANENT MILITARY OUTPOST IN THE
EASTERN PROVINCE. ESTABLISHED IN 1799
AND NAMED AFTER H.R.H. THE DUKE OF YORK.
FROM THIS FORT THE COMMANDANT,
CAPTAIN FRANCIS EVATT, SUPERINTENDED THE
LANDING OF THE 1820 SETTLERS.
ERECTED BY THE HISTORICAL MONUMENTS COMMISSION

FORT FREDERICK 1799-1868
EERSTE PERMANENTE MILITÊRE BUITE-POS IN
DIE OOSTELIKE PROVINSIE. IN 1799 OPGERIG
EN NA S.K.H. DIE HERTOG VAN YORK GENOEM. DIE
KOMMANDANT, KAPTEIN FRANCIS EVATT, HET
VANUIT HIERDIE VESTING OOR DIE LANDING
VAN DIE SETLAARS VAN 1920 TOESIG GEHOU.
OPGERIG DEUR DIE HISTORIESE MONUMENTE KOMMISSIE

All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.


Writings about this entry

Coetzee, Colin. 1995. Forts of the Eastern Cape : Securing a frontier 1799 - 1878. Grahamstown: Colin G Coetzee. pg 92-100
Greig, Doreen. 1971. A Guide to Architecture in South Africa. Cape Town: Howard Timmins. pg 185
Hartdegen, Paddy. 1988. Our building heritage : an illustrated history. South Africa: Ryll's Pub. Co. on behalf of the National Development Fund for the Building Industry. pg 53
Oberholster, JJ. 1972. The historical monuments of South Africa. Cape Town: Rembrandt Van Rijn Foundation for Culture at the request of the National Monuments Council. pg 131-132
Picton-Seymour, Désirée. 1989. Historical Buildings in South Africa. Cape Town: Struikhof Publishers. pg 108
Richardson, Deidré. 2001. Historic Sites of South Africa. Cape Town: Struik Publishers. pg 37
Lewcock, Ronald Fort Frederick: in Potgieter, DJ (Editor-in-chief). 1971. Standard Encyclopaedia of South Africa [SESA] Volume 4 Dev-For: pp 648