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A 400-year-old cannon located in front of the City of Cape Town’s Kuils River municipal offices was recently restored to its former glory, just in time to celebrate Heritage Month. 

The cannon was donated to the Kuils River Municipality in 1972 and, being located outside the building, was subjected to the elements for over 40 years.

It was in a dilapidated state and posed a danger to residents visiting the municipal offices, especially children, who enjoyed climbing onto it.

‘The restoration of this 400-year-old cannon shows our commitment to protecting and preserving heritage assets for future generations. Cape Town has a vast collection of military artefacts that are steeped in history. It is important that we do what we can to preserve this military heritage in the city. It is quite appropriate that this restoration has coincided with Heritage Month and Tourism Month, which is focusing on military heritage tourism this year,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Corporate Services and Compliance, Councillor Xanthea Limberg.Hundreds of years ago, the cannon was used to defend the anchorage in Table Bay during the latter half of the 1600s. When the gun became old and worn, it was ‘retired’ to signal duty and placed on the hill on a farm named Skoonheid in the early 1700s.

It was donated to the municipality to be placed as a landmark feature in front of the administrative building on the corner of Carinus Road and Van Riebeeck Road in Kuils River.

‘The cannon forms an integral part of the history of the Cape and preserving it instils a sense of pride and belonging in the community. Not only was the gun restored, but a new gun carriage was also built. The carriage consists of a wooden platform upon which the cannon is anchored to provide a solid base.

‘I would like to thank Fiorisa Agostini from the City’s Specialised Technical Services Department for taking the lead in preserving this piece of history. The next time residents visit the municipal offices, they should please take note of the now shiny cannon that has stood guard for many years. This iconic landmark also provides for great photo opportunities,’ added Councillor Limberg.

History of the cannon

The cannon was originally cast in Sweden for the Dutch East India Company. The restoration started in July 2016 and was completed earlier this month at a cost of R7 350. Durr 279, as the cannon is registered in the Durr record, was the original signal gun on the hill known as Vlaeberg located between Kuils River and Somerset West. The trunnions (a supporting cylindrical projection on each side of a cannon) became worn and the gun was replaced but the old one remained on the hill. On 24 May 1972, the owners of the farm Skoonheid donated the old gun to the Kuils River Municipality. Its trunnions were repaired and it was mounted on a carriage in front of the administrative building. Although recorded as a six-pounder, it could possibly be an eight-pounder. It has both Amsterdam and Middelburg proof marks at the first reinforce on the barrel.

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