fascinating slideshow with some text and vid about British Victorian-era defenses at Cape Town recently discovered.


As the British colonised the Cape, they installed a vast network of artillery defence stations around the coast. Most of these colonial relics were thought to have vanished long ago – until a surprise discovery last year revealed something unexpected underneath a swimming pool.

What made disappearing guns unique was their ability to hide from enemy fire by lowering themselves into a gun pit,” Hart said. “These guns were fitted with hydraulic lifting mechanisms for the artillery crew to lift the barrel from its loading position under a protective shield into a firing position and rotate it towards the target. After it fired, it would disappear back into a vault under a protective shield. These were extremely rare military mechanisms and great examples of mid-Victorian engineering.

Disappearing guns are considered to be a uniquely British feat of military engineering, and Hart’s research has found very few of these cannon-sized ‘guns’ were used worldwide. According to documents found in the Western Cape Archives and Records Service, at least three disappearing guns were brought to the Cape from England. The New South Wales State Heritage Register mentions 10 of these mountings deployed in Australia, but according to Hart, almost all of these have been demolished. Only parts of one disappearing gun from Cape Town’s Fort Wynyard military base are known to still exist. The rest, as Hart explained, simply vanished.

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