Old Fort

A military camp was established by the British on the site of the Old Fort when 237 men of the 27th Regiment and Royal Artillery under Captain Thomas Charlton Smith arrived in Durban on 4th May 1842, in response to Boer plans to resettle Natal’s surplus black population. The Boers seized 700 cattle belonging to the British and Captain Smith decided to attack them in their encampment at Congella. The attack took place on 23rd May and the British were soundly beaten, suffering 50 casualties in contrast to the Boers who had one man killed and two injured. The Boers then laid siege to the British camp and it was only lifted with arrival of the schooner Conch and the frigate HMS Southampton on 25th June 25th.

 

After the siege of 1842, a permanent fort was built on the site and a permanent British garrison was based there with a larger force being stationed outside Pietermaritzburg at Fort Napier. A procession of British Regiments did garrison duty in Durban including the 45th Regiment (Sherwood Foresters), the 5th Regiment (Northumberland Fusiliers), the Buffs, and the Gordon Highlanders. The 27th Regiment (Inniskilling Fusiliers), whose men had been besieged by the Boers in the original British camp, provided the last garrison at the Old Fort. The fort was later leased by the War Office to the Durban Light Infantry to be converted into cottages for veterans. The magazine was converted into a chapel and is one of the city’s most popular wedding venues.

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