Above Lower North Battery in Simon’s Town are three more gun emplacements, Upper North, Middle North and Scala batteries. These are collectively known as Scala. I’ve always found these big guns fascinating.
In 1795 The Dutch put up an extremely weak defence against the invasion of the British but since then the guns of Simon’s Town have never fired a shot in anger. Unfortunately most of the guns have fallen into disrepair. More recently the 12-ton, 9-inch RML Gun manufactured in Woolwich mounted at Middle North in 1895 has been restored to working condition and is fired annually during Simon’s Town Navy Week.
South Africa had one of the most extensive coastal defence systems of any of the commonwealth nations, and Cape Town is home to 9 of approximately 27 remaining 9.2 inch guns found around the world (12 can be found in South Africa). Various attempts have been made to restore the rest of the guns at Scala Battery. Work commenced in 1945 for a radar station at Scala Battery. On a recent visit there I was pleased to see that at least the guns had been painted, but much more specialised work is needed in order to preserve them properly. Amscor have successfully restored one of the 9.2 inch guns on Robben Island to firing condition but there is no news as to if it will ever be fired.
The first 9.2 inch gun at Upper North situated on Red Hill used to be open, and years ago we climbed down underneath it into the ammunition bunkers which was fascinating because we didn’t realise just how big the bunkers are underground. Unfortunately due to vandalism all these entrances have had to be sealed so people don’t steal things.
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