After the Jameson Raid in 1896, Pres Paul Kruger of the “Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek” decided to protect Pretoria by constructing forts in strategic places. Eight forts were to be built initially, but due to a shortage of funds, only four were completed. Germans designed three of the four forts, Schanskop being one.
Fort Schanskop was completed in 1897 and was built in such a way to avert possible attacks on Pretoria from the Johannesburg and Lourenco Marques railway line, as well as from the Johannesburg road. By mounting revolving artillery on the embankment of the fort, attacks from all directions could be warded off. Schanskop was armed with one 155 mm Creusot gun (Long Tom) and two Maxims(Pom-poms) by 1899. The soldiers included one officer and 30 privates from the Transvaal State Artillery.
At the outbreak of the war the soldiers and armament were transferred to the Natal front, leaving the fort undefended.
After the invasion of Pretoria by Gen Roberts, the British occupied the forts on 7 June 1900. The 2nd Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers occupied Schanskop. The fort was returned to the Union Government in 1922 and was used by the Defence Force for signalling and reconnaissance purposes only.
The Historical Monument Commission declared Schanskop a historical monument in 1938. It was decided to establish a military museum in Pretoria in 1962. Fort Klapperkop was selected for this purpose, but this museum was later expanded to include Schanskop.
Due to budget cuts the SA Defence Force was forced to hand both museums back to the State by 1994. The Voortrekker Monument and Nature Reserve successfully tendered to purchase Fort Schanskop (without contents) from the City Council of Pretoria for an amount of R400,000. The Fort was transferred to said Section 21 Company during June 2000, where which an extensive programme was launched to renovate and extend the Fort.
Anglo-Boer War Museum
After the Voortrekker Monument and Nature Reserve Sec-21 Company took over the Fort in 2000, it was decided to limit the theme period of the museum to the period 1899-1914. A photographic display on various aspects of the Anglo-Boer War was compiled. Photographs on the role of the horse in the war can be viewed in Stal whilst the history of the State Artillery is portrayed in Officieren.
An overview of the course of the war is on display in Proviand. Portraits of Boer generals, which are on loan from the SA Army College, as well as short biographical sketches, decorate the walls of the conference venue, Manschappen. Displays on the arms and ammunition of Boer and Brit, the history of the Fort, as well as medical conditions during the war are housed in the rest of the rooms. An archaeological display provides insight into life at the fort 100 years ago.