#84 of 101

12 Apr

How can you tell the difference between a true Capetonian and a visitor?

Upon hearing an explosive boom echoing through the city, most Capetonians will be nonchalantly checking their watches while everyone else will be anxiously scanning the skies with wild eyes. 

It can be quite amusing to see a visiting guest give a little jump when it happens. But then, us mother-city-people take our amusement wherever we can find it… it’s all part of our charm! 

What am I talking about? Why, the Noon Day Gun, of course. I think it is probably one of Cape Town’s oldest traditions. Every day (except Sundays and Public Holidays) since 1806, a gentleman from the South African Navy makes his way to the two canons on Signal Hill. He shoves a bag of gunpowder down one of the canons and prods it into place with a (I’m sure it has a proper name) stick-thingy. Then he places a (I’m sure it has a proper name) bullet-thingy into the trigger, chats to the visitors for a while and then counts down to midday and an almighty BOOM. Amazingly, there has only been one day in over 200 years that both the main gun and the backup gun have failed to fire. 

It’s quite high tech these days – no lighting of the fuse and frantic running away before it blows. The whole thing is set up to a trigger system that receives an electronic signal from The South African Astronomical Observatory’s Atomic Clock. Seriously. Remote trigger. From an Atomic Clock, no less…!!

I can highly recommend a visit to the Lion Battery on Signal Hill. The view is spectacular, the boom is majestic and, if nothing else, you can set your watch with atomic precision.

The Spectacular View

The Spaceship Has Landed (The 2010 World Cup Stadium)

Firing Number 64,116 (that’s a lot of Booms)

The Bag Of Gunpowder

Shoving it in with the stick-thingy

The bullet-thingy that ignites the gunpowder

Stand back… (way back)… 3…2…1… BOOM!!

Riding Shotgun

84. Watch the noon-day gun



4 Responses to “#84 of 101”

  1. Pop April 13, 2010 at 7:28 am #

    Great pictures and a good reminder of a very happy day. The “sticky thingy” is a ram rod and the “bullet thingy” a detonator. No excuses for being late now having set your watch to atomic precision.

  2. sleepyjane April 13, 2010 at 8:54 am #

    That’s so cool. 🙂

  3. iluvgreen April 15, 2010 at 4:39 am #

    this is very interesting.. i only heard Cape Town in the novel ive read

  4. Fiona April 27, 2010 at 11:19 pm #

    One of the funniest things I ever saw when the noon day gun went off and the wind must have been blowing the sound in our direction so it was really really loud, was a guy in front of me just hit the pavement. The poor man was scared out of his wits. He looked Dutch or German as he had sandles on with sox. Too funny for words. xxx

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