Powder Magazine (1880), Lydenburg

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On an erf in Viljoen Street, Lydenburg, is found this old powder magazine, a reminder of the stormy eighteen eighties At the beginning of 1878 there was an outbreak of trouble between the British rulers of the Transvaal and the Bapedi tribe under Sekhukhune. It promised to become a long drawn-out struggle.

Because Lydenburg was situated almost in the centre of the arena of war, some regiment or other was always stationed here. When the fighting reached a climax by November, 1879, the 94th Regiment played a major role in subduing Sekukuni. At the close of hostilities a division of this regiment under command of Colonel R. P. Anstruther was stationed here. When the First War of Independence broke out in 1880, a part of this garrison commanded by Anstruther was ordered to Pretoria. The remainder of the 94th regiment in Lydenburg was placed under command of Second Lieutenant Long, a young man of 22 years. A short distance outside the town and about 200 metres from Sterkspruit, Long established a defence post which he called Fort Mary.


At the end of the war this fort was evacuated. Up to this time Lydenburg did not have a powder magazine and there were complaints that storing ammunition, gunpowder and dynamite at the magistrate’s offices was very dangerous. In December, 1883, the government signed a contract for the building of a powder magazine. For this purpose stones from Fort Mary were used. On some of these stones the names of British soldiers had been carved and this in later years gave rise to the mistaken belief that the powder magazine was built by Anstruther during the First War of Independence. Apart from the powder magazine, stones from Fort Mary are found also in the walls of a house in Viljoen Street.
Source: [J.J. Oberholster, 1972. The Historical Monuments of South Africa. Cape Town: The Rembrandt van Rijn Foundation for Culture. pp, 332-3.]

KRUITHUIS GAFITTI

Engelse wagte los hulle name (English guards leave their names)
Ek het al geskryf van die kruithuis agter die Hondaplek in Viljoenstraat wat gebou is met die klippe waarmee die Engelse se fort met die eerste Britse besetting van Lydenburg, aanvanklik gebou was.

Die plek waar die fortjie, destyds bekend as Fort Mary, eers gestaan het word nou nog in Voortrekkerstraat links van die pad oppad na die duikweg, aangedui. Na die Eerste Vryheidoorlog en die Boere se terugneem van die Transvaal is besluit om ‘n behoorlik ammunisie-opslagplek vir die dorp te bou en hierdie eenvoudige dog stewige sinkdakstruktuur met sy staalkdeur is in Pretoria ontwerp.

Met Buller se oorname en besetting van Lydenburg byna twintig jaar met die Tweede Vryheidsoorlog, het die kruithuis soos dit algemeen bekend gestaan het, ’n belangrike sleutelpunt in die dorp geword. Engesle soldate moes dit gedurig bewaak.

Die Boere kommandos onder Genl. Ben Viljoen en later Chris Muller was goed bedrywig om en soms self in die dorp. Mens dink aan die keer toe hulle McGee se meul onder teen die Strekspruit opgeblaas het en die Engelse besetters sonder meel gelaat het.
Seker ook maar uit verveeldheid het hierdie wagte dikwels hulle name, soms geboorte datums en dikwels magsnommers, op die plat skalieklip van die fortjie uitgekrap.

Storie vertel deur Marius Bakkes
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