- Up to today the guns have been fired 64 564 times
- The guns were used for ships, in the bay, to set their time by
- The puff of smoke could be picked up by ships sailing past
- Last fired in war at battle of Muizenberg in 1795
One of the highlights of Cape Town is the firing of the Noon Day Gun which is accurately fired at exactly 12 noon every day, from the Lion Battery, the exception being a Sunday or public holiday, it has been fired since 1806. The time is set by the South African Astronomical Observatory from their atomic clock and the signal is then sent through to the firing pins of the detonator which in turn ignites the 1.5kg of gunpowder in the cannon. To say that the sound is loud is to have your ears aching for about 20 minutes later, the force of the charge can be felt right through the ground and ends with a magnificent puff of white smoke and an echo coming back at you from the surrounding mountains.
Everyone should experience this, the view from Signal hill is magnificent, overlooking Robben Island, the harbour and the Cape Town Stadium. The Noon Day Gun is nestled halfway up the slopes of signal hill and you can get their from the city by driving up Military Road. Apart from the two working guns, 18 pounder smooth-bore, muzzle-loaders there are many relics of years gone by all around the firing pit. The guns have been traced back to Britian and were made in the time of King George the third, the guns still bear his crest.
The guns are maintained and looked after by the South African Navy and according to them has only misfired once, in January 2005 so since then both cannons are loaded but only one fired so in the event of a misfire, the other cannon can be fired almost immediately. For visiting dignitaries or the opening of parliament the other guns, at the Lion Battery are used to fire a 21 gun salute.
This is a beautiful place full of history so go have an adventure.