Fort Frederick: The Early Garrison overlooking the City of Port Elizabeth

Fort FrederickThe British forces under Maj-Gen Francis Dundas built this stone fort at the end of 1799 to provide a permanent military presence in the Eastern Cape. It was named after Frederick, Duke of York, Commander-In-Chief of the British army. The fort was built by British troops who had been sent to Algoa Bay to prevent possible landing of French soldiers. It was armed with two 8-pounders. Yet, ironically, no shot was ever fired in anger from the Fort.

A 5.5 inch howitzer was landed at the port and is probably the “old gun” shown on a map in 1844 on the hill behind the fort.

In 1802, with the treaty of Amiens, the Cape, was handed over to the Batavian Government and the Fort with it.

Soldiers at Fort FrederickCapt. Francis Evatt assumed command of Fort Frederick in 1817 and remained as Resident Commander for almost half a lifetime. When he died it was said that he was “if not the founder of the town, at least present at its origin, and for some time so important a personage in it, that the history of his doings was the history of Port Elizabeth.” He is often referred to as the “Father of Port Elizabeth.”

He was buried in the Congregational Cemetery in Russell Road, and in 1956 his remains were removed to a spot outside the Fort.

In 1899 the Fort and its land were given over to the municipality, and in 1936 it was declared a National Monument. It is open to students and interested visitors to the Eastern Cape of South Africa.

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Text credits: M Harradine                                                                                                                                    Photographs:  Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism / PE Library

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The Public Library was built in 1835.

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Last updated:
3 October 2012 7:51