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Powder Magazine, Blom Street, Stellenbosch

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Post date: 07/08/2012
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History: The Braak derives its unique character from the buildings that surround it and one of these is the well-known Powder Magazine.
On 5th October, 1686, the Burgher Military Council of Stellenbosch made insistent demands on the Council of Policy for ammunition for the defence of the new colony. The request was granted. The landdrost and heemraden were informed that an arsenal or magazine would be built in the district and that they should assist in choosing a suitable site for it. After an “ocular inspection” a. site at the lower end of the Braak or “training field” as it was known in those days found general acceptance “because its situation was open and out-of-the-way but yet within sight of the town”.
Because there was so much work to be done on public buildings in Cape Town and elsewhere, nearly a century passed before the building of the magazine was under taken. The Company was to provide the timber and certain bricks but the landdrost and heemraden themselves had to invite tenders and be responsible for the work, and they were warned to exercise the utmost economy. On 7th October, 1776, a tender of Philip Hartog and Lambert Fick for 9 000 guilders was accepted, subject to the approval of the government. The building had to be ready by 1st October, 1777, and the landdrost and heemraden were to exercise strict supervision over the work.
The actual builder of the old powder house with its 66 cm walls and its double-storeyed magazine was Michael Rarnbusch, a German from Danzig and a mason in the service of the Dutch East India Company. The foundations were prepared in November, 1776, and the building, completed in 182 days, was handed over on 5th May, 1777.
For many years the building served the purpose for which it was constructed, but towards the middle of the nineteenth century its status was reduced to that of a market building. In spite of this, it did not lose the respect of the people and after its proclamation as a monument the Municipality restored and renovated it very thoroughly. It was then converted into a small museum of relics of the military history of Stellenbosch."
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Construction Date: 1777
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