Prince Alfred's Guard Drill Hall

Landmarks / Museums in or near Central Hill, Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, South Africa.

Eastern Cape Tourist AttractionsPrince Alfred's Guard Drill Hall

Where? Castle Hill, Prospect and Daly Streets in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape

Overnight? Stay in Central Hill, in Eastern Cape

The Prince Alfred's Guard Drill Hall stands on the corners of Castle Hill, Prospect and Daly Streets in Port Elizabeth's centre. The beautiful building, built in 1880, is the headquarters of one of the oldest volunteer regiments in South Africa - the Prince Alfred's Guard (PAG) Regiment.

The regiment emerged in 1856 in an attempt to raise local volunteer troops to help regular troops, and functioned as a guard of honour to Prince Alfred, Queen Victoria's second son, when he visited South Africa in 1860. At the time they were known as the Port Elizabeth Volunteer Rifle Corps. The Duke of Edinburgh allowed them to adopt his name after his visit to the city.

Its status as a reserve unit is on a par with that of a British Army Reserve or American Army National Guard and its members served in the Xhosa Wars, the Anglo Boer War, World War One, the Union Defence Force, World War Two, and in border conflicts in Angola and Namibia.

Its Victorian architectural style and Edwardian fašade today houses the regimental museum alongside other military exhibits, including the 'miracle cannon' - one of the most perfectly preserved of the bronze cannons rescued from the wreck of the Sacramento (1647)at Schoenmakerskop. The cannon is a wonderful example of the work of master cannon founder, Pedro Dias Bocarro, said to have made the best cannons in the world (you can see another of these cannons at the start of the Sacramento Trail at Schoenmakerskop).

The drill hall has fulfilled other roles in its time, in particular it functioned as a hospital during the South African War (1899-1902). But it has also hosted balls, theatre productions and been a roller skating rink. It was designed by Storey and Wilson who apparently worked for the railway at the time, and gave of their services free of charge.

The cannon and exhibits are not automatically open to the public. Contact staff on duty to find out if it suits them.

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