Fort Amiel ~ A significant historical building in our town ~ Part Three: Blacksmiths Workshop

Last week I was a tourist in my own town, while I took my sister and her family around Newcastle, KZN, South Africa. Since I am good friends with the museum curator he took us on a personal tour of Fort Amiel Museum, and even though I have done the tour a couple of times, I still enjoy it, as there are always new things to notice. This is part of a series of 6 focusing on different areas of the Fort. Scroll to the bottom of this article for a brief history of the Fort.

The Blacksmith's Workshop

This is not the original workshop, as it has been completely rebuilt. Now it is a repository of vintage tools used mostly in the era of the Fort's heyday, but not exclusively to that time period.  

I have sold many of these old planes on my online auction site.

The old anvil would have been central to the Blacksmith's Workshop!

These old wagon wheels are simply beautiful. At the turn of the century, ox wagons were still one of the main modes of transportation. They are very popular decorator's pieces too.

This bellows would also have been used in the original Blacksmith's Workshop.

I know what some of these tools are, but some of them look really weird and wonderful. Somehow I am attracted to all these old rusty beauties!

@joshuabaxter was also taking photos during our outing, much more professional than mine!!! It was unbelievably hot that hot day!

Fort Amiel History

Fort Amiel was built in 1876 by the British as a military stronghold and a signalling station. It played a significant role in the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879, as well as the First Anglo-Boer War of 1881. It usually housed about 200 troops, but swelled to as many as 1500 troops in 1881. By 1882, all the outlying buildings, vehicles and supplies were auctioned off, including a large selection of liquor! Today only the centre part of the Fort remains, and was restored in the 1990's to house a cultural history museum. When the Second Anglo-Boer War broke out in 1899 the British decided to abandon Newcastle altogether, as it being the northernmost town of the Natal Colony, it was deemed to be too close to the Boer Republics. Newcastle was shortly thereafter invaded by the Boer forces, and the Fort was occupied by the Hollander Commando. Newcastle was briefly renamed Viljoensdorp during this period. Newcastle was retaken by the British seven months later, with much pomp and ceremony! Fort Amiel is a popular stopover on South Africa's famed Battlefields Route.

When I was a child I had a friend who lived near to the Fort and it had not yet been restored. It was one of our favourite places to play! Just last year, the museum curator kindly allowed my daughter to hold her yoga classes in the canteen (which has not yet been fully restored) until she outgrew the place. On a quiet day, looking out to the surrounding hills, the history seems almost tangible!


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