GEELBEK RIVER BLOCKHOUSE

An interesting place to stop along the N1 is the Geelbek River Blockhouse situated next to the Geelbek railway bridge near Laingsburg.

While a number of blockhouses used stone in their construction, this one is built from shuttered concrete. The design of this, and other blockhouses, was developed by General Sir Elliot Wood – the British army’s chief engineer in South Africa at the time, basing it on a pattern he had used in the Sudan during the 1880s. It was declared a National Monument in 1965.

Although the plaque put up by the Historical Monuments Commission is high up and can no longer be read easily, it states that To prevent the destruction of the railroad by Republican forces, the British military, at the beginning of 1901, built this type of blockhouse near railway bridges at a cost of approximately R2 000 each. It was garrisoned […] for thirty soldiers.

Steel-protected embrasures were located on each floor, while two steel boxes projected at diagonally opposite corners of the top floor provided covering cross-fire to the walls below. The lookout platforms also provided a clear view over the surrounding area.

You can read more about blockhouses along the Cape Town-De Aar railway line at http://samilitaryhistory.org/jnl2/vol181rt.html

26 thoughts on “GEELBEK RIVER BLOCKHOUSE

  1. An interesting but poignant relic

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    • It is poignant to a point – there are a host of other reminders of the Anglo-Boer War in this country. Fortunately, we have moved on from there in many respects 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I used to love looking at the blockhouses along the railway line between Cape Town and Johannesburg. I did not know that concrete was used as far back as the 1880s.

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