Tel: 036 342 7880, 011 352 3000
Fax: 036 352 5829
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||Kemps Road Estcourt
||Mon to Sun 9am-12pm & 1pm-4pm
closed pub hols
||Entrance Fee: Free
A museum that offers educational tours featuring interesting defensive mechanisms
Built in 1874 to protect the townspeople against possible Zulu attack. Houses a museum where the main exhibit is the fort itself. Features interesting defensive mechanisms. There is a reconstructed Amangwane Zulu Kraal in the grounds
Strategically positioned atop a dominant stand overlooking the old military post at the Bushman’s River drift, the allegedly “haunted” Fort Durnford is a must visit for Hartford House guests exploring the Estcourt region.
The position was first occupied in 1847 but following the Langalibalele Rebellion of 1873 and the resultant fear that abounded within the British outposts, was later fortified. Fort Durnford, as it stands today, was constructed in 1874 by Major Anthony William Durnford of the British Colonial Engineers in order to protect the Estcourt townspeople from possible Zulu attack. Today it houses the Estcourt Museum.
Fort Durnford was designed as a substantial stronghold, built in a rectangular shape from local sandstone. The walls are two feet thick and rise approximately thirty feet in height with two square towers and heavily barred windows throughout. The windows were originally fitted with heavy iron shutters, turning on hinges spiked to the walls.
Upon entering the Fort, a stone paved hall gives way to the heart of this bastion, with guard rooms, barracks and storerooms. Leading from a side passage which was used for the movement of prisoners and was originally closed by a grille, there are doors to a vaulted powder-magazine and offices.
An underground water tank lies buried beneath the paving of one of the rooms, and two "secret" tunnels lead from the remains of a pit hidden beneath the ground floor of the North-West tower. It is believed that one tunnel heads North-West towards the military post at the drift and the other North-East, exiting from the hillside. These tunnels would have been vital for the safe movement of supplies and for stealthy escapes.
The Fort Durnford museum has many interesting artifacts on display including fossils, Iron Age and Stone Age relics, old wagons and models depicting the historic Natal battles. The museum also showcases one of the largest birds’ egg collections.
Today the fort houses the Estcourt Museum, and what served as a stronghold against the Zulus, is now a seat of cultural interest, and features various displays of Military history, fossils, bird eggs,as well as exhibits on the Moorleigh mission station and the Amangwe homestead.
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