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Noon Gun @ 12h00 (1 Oct)

A cache by WC Geocachers. Send Message to Owner Message this owner
Hidden : Saturday, 01 October 2016
1.5 out of 5
1.5 out of 5

Size: Size: other (other)

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Geocache Description:

Date : 1 October 2016 - Saturday.
Time : 11h30 to 12h00
Reason : To experience a 210-year old Cape Town Tradition.

The Noon Guns at Lion Battery in Cape Town are the oldest Smooth Bore Muzzle Loading Guns in daily use in the world. This 18 pounder SBML Guns was designed by Captain Thomas Blomfield in 1786, and cast by Walker & Company in 1794. They were brought to the Cape during the 1795 occupation, and mounted at the Imhoff Battery at the Castle. It was left behind when the British left in 1803, and then recaptured during the 1806 occupation of the Cape.

The guns was fired daily at the Imhoff Battery since 1806. They were moved to Lion Battery on August 4 1902. The firing of the daily Noon Gun is now Cape Town's oldest living tradition, and the two guns used are the oldest guns in daily use in the world. The daily guns was fired as a time signal for ships anchored in the bay, to allow them to check the accuracy of their marine chronometers (an instrument necessary for the accurate calculation of longitude) Observers on the ships would watch for smoke from the muzzle, rather than sound, because light travels much faster than sound.

But every Capetownian came to rely on the guns for accurate time. Pocket watches were scarce, expensive and inaccurate during the 19th century. A traveller from Cape Town could very well expect to be asked if he had the correct "gun time" when visiting the outlying towns. The accuracy of the Noon Gun was never questioned and was accepted as the ultimate in accurate time. As Cape Town developed the noise of the gun became too loud and disruptive for the residents' liking, and the guns were removed to the somewhat more remote Lion Battery, from where it was fired since 4th August 1902.

The same guns are still in use today. They are loaded every day by the South African Navy at about 11h30 with 1.5kg of gunpowder. The second gun is also loaded as a standby in case the first one misfires. It is fired remotely from the master clock at the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) every day at 12 noon sharp, except on Sundays and Public Holidays. Only once in over 200 years, on Friday January 7th 2005, both the main and backup gun failed to fire, owing to a technical difficulty.

To get there turn from Buitengracht street at coordinates S33'55'440 , E018'24'816, and follow the Noon Gun signs to the top of the hill. Lion Battery is open Monday to Friday 08h00 to 16h00, and Saturdays 08h00 to 13h00 Try to be there at 11h30. An officer of the Navy will be there to prepare the guns for the firing and always gives an informative talk about the Noon Guns. Do the Countdown with him, and see if you can stand your ground when the thundering boom rips the air apart without getting a jolt.

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