Durban’s Old Fort (just next to Kingsmead Stadium) has had a long history tied to military action – the site having been first established as a military camp by the British back in May 1842, when 237 men of the 27th Regiment and Royal Artillery under Captain Thomas Charlton Smith were sent in to respond to an imminent Boer threat.
Following the ensuing retaliatory siege by the Boers after the failed British attack on Congella (lifted only be the arrival of the schooner Conch and the frigate HMS Southampton), 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.
Over the years a number of British Regiments did garrison duty in Durban and eventually the fort was later leased by the War Office to the Durban Light Infantry where it was at last converted into cottages for veterans. (Incidentally, the magazine was converted into a chapel and given the tranquil, lush nature of the grounds, the chapel has proven to be one of the city’s most popular wedding venues over the years!)
These days the grounds are open to the public, providing a quiet green space within the bustling city. There are old military relics scattered about to discover, and if you are somewhat of a military nerd, then the hugely informative Warrors Gate M.O.T.H. (Memorable Order of Tin Hats) Museum and Shrine (situated on the grounds) is an absolute must.
Highly recommended to anyone with an interest in South African military history then.