Signal Hill ---- Cape Town south africa
The original guns - 18-pounder, smooth-bore muzzle-loaders - are still in use today. The ritual represents one of Cape Town's oldest living traditions.
These are the oldest guns in daily use in the world.
From the earliest days of the Dutch castle (1700s), a cannon was fired as a time check. Initially this was at sunset and sunrise. Soon after the English occupation of the Cape in 1795, the Dutch guns were removed from the Castle and replaced by the latest English 18 pounders. Two of these guns are still in use, used on alternate days. A time signal has been fired by one of these guns since 1806.
In 1798 this nearly set all of Cape Town on fire when burning wadding landed on a thatched roof and set fire to a stabe.
Since the advent of the "galvanic telegraph" it became possible to trigger a gun remotely and since 1864 the noon gun has been accurately fired from the master clock of the oldest timekeeper in the country, the South African Astronomical Observatory as it is still being fired today.
As Cape Town developed and grew, the noise of the gun became too loud and violent for the city centre and the guns were moved up to signal hill's Lion Battery from where they are still fired today. The first signal fired from here was on the 4th of August 1902. These same guns are still in use today and is Cape Town's oldest living tradition; the 2 guns used are the oldest guns in daily use in the world.
To this day, the Noon gun still startles the pigeons and informs the locals of the time. With good timing and a favourable office window, you can see the puff of smoke a second or two before hearing the bang. It is an electric fired cartridge that sets off the 1.3Kg charge of black powder.
21 gun salutes are occasionally used to mark important occasions.
the noon gun
, the guns have had the task of firing a time signal since 1806.
Signal Hill probably sees its greatest number of visitors at noon time when the renowned Noon Gun is fired.
Located at Signal Hill's battery, the Noon Gun is just below the top of the hill. Every day at 12:00 noon a cannon shot is fired from the Noon gun, a tradition extending back many years.
The South African Astronomical Observatory is responsible for the operation of the cannon. Several minutes before 12:00 an officer makes his way to the Lion's Battery carrying a bag of gun powder. The bag is then carefully inserted into the cannon's barrel. Standing behind the safety line the cannon is automatically ignited via an electronic signal from the Cape Town Observatory.