Heritage Hectare: First Fort in Cape Town, Dr Roger Stewart

Author Dr Roger Stewart of A Cape Odyssey talks about his unpublished, new research about Cape Town’s old fort which no longer exists as it was soon superseded by the Castle of Good Hope which still stands. The fort was on the current Grand Parade, near to the today’s Grand Central (old General Post Office, Darling St) and Golden Acre (Adderley St) shopping centres. Roger takes us on a journey of what it all would have looked like when the Dutch East India Company (VOC) started their settlement here in 1652. Superb images include an image of an old VOC chest which may have been used for tools to build the fort, now a family heirloom of one of the listeners, a regular Culture Connector.

Roger hosted a Culture Connect tour in his map showroom several years ago – he is a great collector and seller of old African maps, especially of the Cape where he lives. He has written 40 articles and three monographs on African maps and their associated history. No wonder he is the South African representative of the International Map Collectors’ Society and chairs the Bibliophiles in Cape Town. He is a member of the Washington Map Society, Royal Society of Southern Africa, Owl Club and Cape Medical Museum. He is dab hand at online lecturing (you can watch his UCT Winter School’s virtual tour of historical Cape Town on 29 July 2021 here). Roger’s previous career was medicine (associate professor of human physiology). He led businesses, and continues to lecture and consult part time.

Roger and I are already plotting a tour/visit in 2022 to see a national collection of old maps, not easily accessible to the public, in a central Cape Town library; let me know if you are interested.

This talk was on Thursday 4 November 2021 5pm to 6pm – South African time.

You can buy A Cape Odyssey here from Footprint Press – softback R295 (hardback R495).

Ideas for future Cape Town history Zooms very welcome.

Images: Gordon scene (from Roger’s book, Cape Odyssey); below: Roger holding Abbé Nicolas-Louis de Lacaille’s Cape of Good Hope map – its origin is connected with the observatory opposite Golden Acre (click here to watch Roger explaining this); cover of Roger’s book; model of the old fort (Mike Peel); the old fort – Mount & Page, dated 1675; inside the wagon of explorer William Burchell (1781 – 1863); map dated 1761 – spot the old fort in the top right corner