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Fort Cox Agriculture and Forestry Training Institute

Fort Cox Agriculture and Forestry Training Institute

Fort Cox was a “post of occupation” established by the British military in 1835 and was named in honour of Major William Cox of the 75th Regiment and a former Officer Commanding of the Cape Mounted Rifles. Like many fortifications of its time, it appears to have been an earth redoubt reinforced with stone.  Fort Cox Memorial & Monument is situated along the R63 road to Keiskammahoek and this route passes through various historical sites. Fort Cox was built in 1897 as one of the military post which was established during the Frontier Frontier Wars around 1835 and named after Major William Cox of the Gordon Highlanders. In 1850 the fort served as a central staging point, (July 2013).


Fort Cox has an Agricultural College; Fort Cox College of Agriculture and Forestry is one of the 12 Agricultural Colleges in South Africa. It was established to offer Agricultural Education and Training in 1930, but then in the 1970, the Forestry component was introduced. It is set amid beautiful surroundings of bush – clad hills and mountains, and endows a diversified socio-economic and biological heritage. It is a place of great historic interest. Fort Cox featured prominently in the turbulent period of frontier wars, but the building itself has not survived. Most of the stones from the fort which once housed colonial troops have been removed for other buildings and some are in fact embedded in the concrete foundations of what has today become one of the most important center of agricultural and forestry training for the predominantly black students in Southern Africa.


Chronological historical events:


1834-1835: Fort Cox was established as military post during the sixth Frontier- War by Major William Cox of the British Army under orders from the Governor of the Cape Colony, Sir Benjamin D’Urban.

1850: Around Christmas, when the Sir Harry Smith was the Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Cape Colony, he was actually besieged at Fort Cox with a party of Cape Mounted Rifles at the start of the Eight Frontier War. After the war, the Ngqika lands were sold to farmers and white magistrates who then had total administrative powers over the land and its people, thus replacing the chiefs. The chiefs were given land by magistrates for their personal use and, indeed, until recently, a grandson of the famous Chief Sandile (Nqgika’s son and successor) lived at Chwaru, a village adjoining Fort Cox.

1926: Under the influence and guidance of great leaders such as Professor D. D. T. Jabavu and Mr. M. Peteni, the Magistrate of Kieskammahoek, Mr. E. Beal recommended that Fort Cox and a portion of land around it, be purchased, with a view to establish what was then termed the “Native Agricultural School” and this was agreed to.

1927: The property of 650ha was eventually purchased from Mr. Timlett. Shortly thereafter the contract for building the school was given to Lovedale College at Alice.

1930: The school was officially opened in September by then Minister of Native Affairs, Hon. E. G. Jansen.

1934: Further 704ha was purchased from Chief Sandile, bringing the total area of the College grounds to 1 354ha. In these early years the College provided training in agriculture only up to 1969.

1970: In January the forestry students and staff of Swartkops College near Pietermaritzburg were transferred to Fort Cox College, and diploma course in forestry was instituted.

1974: The construction of the “New College” campus began on the land bought from Chief Sandile in 1934. This phase of the additional development of Fort Cox College was completed in 1976.

1977: Opened officially on 9th February by then Chief Minister of Ciskei. Mr. L. L. W. Sebe, the New College campus comprised the administration block, classrooms, student residences, staff residences and workshop.

1982: When the College was first opened as an agricultural school in 1930, the entrance requirement was Standard 6. This was raised to Standard 8 in 1950. In 1982 it was further raised to Standard 10 or National Senior Certificate, and the duration of the training was increased from two and a half to three years.

1983: Phase 2 of the New College campus saw the construction of the sports stadium and the assembly hall. The latter was named the Mgolombane Hall in memory great Xhosa Chief Sandile.

1985: A Ciskei Special Committee chaired by Professor T. J. Bemridge was appointed by the then President of Ciskei, Chief L. L. W. Sebe, to investigate and recommend measures that might improve the standard of training of all levels of manpower engaged in agricultural and rural development. The existing agricultural training programme at Fort Cox College was scrutinized closely and the College authorities unanimously accepted modifications recommended by the committee.

1986: College introduced a three-year diploma in nature conservation. This was inaugurated in July.

1990: Of particular significance is the fact that, in April, Decree No. 5 of 1991 of former Ciskei, granted Fort Cox College autonomy, thus making it the only College of Agriculture of its own kind in South Africa to date.

1991: The College became affiliated to the University of Fort Hare. A memorandum of agreement by and between the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development of Ciskei on the one hand, and the University of Fort Hare on the other, was signed at Fort Cox College on 11th June 1991.

1993: Phase 3 of building programme started in June with the construction of new classrooms, laboratories and residences, a new library, a diagnostic center and a boardroom as well as new livestock handling facilities and a new field irrigation system.

1994: Phase 3 was completed and Fort Cox College could now boast some of the best facilities and amenities for student training in Southern Africa.

2000: Fort Cox College, like other colleges decided to remain under HE and offer training under quality assurance criteria set by the accrediting CHE (Council on Higher Education).

2002: Fort Cox academic programmes received full accreditation from CHE.

2004: The accreditation status of the academic programmes of Fort Cox College was re-affirmed by CHE.

2010: The curriculum of Fort Cox College was reviewed and implemented in line with the industry and socio economic needs of the country.

2010: Fort Cox hosted South African Agricultural Colleges Rugby tournament for the first time in its history.

On 24 September 1834, the Berlin Missionary Society’s first South African mission station, Bethany, was founded on the Riet River between Edenburg and Trompsburg in the Orange Free State. With the arrival of more missionaries in 1837, the society expanded its work to the Eastern Cape and the Xhosa. Here Döhne played an important role in the founding of the stations Bethel and Itemba. These stations were abandoned during the Frontier War of 1846–47, when the missionaries found refuge in the neighbouring colony of Natal. With the closing of the Eastern Cape missions, the focus of the Berlin Missionary Society shifted to Natal and the Transvaal. Christianenberg, Emmaus and other mission stations were established there, and Döhne became a well-known figure among the Voortrekkers. In 1857 some German veterans of the Crimean War settled around Fort Döhne which had been built near the mission station. The Molteno government of the Cape Colony opened a railway station here in 1874, as part of its nationwide Cape Government Railways network.

Did you know? The dam is well endowed with rainbow and brown trout and has its own angling club, the Stutterheim Trout Fishing Club, which you can contact for a fishing permit

Gubu dam lies in an utterly romantic setting, towered over by both Mount Kubusie and Mount Thomas, between the towns of Keiskammahoek Hoek and Stutterheim, an hour’s drive from East London.

To reach it, one drives through hooded forest, surrounded by towering green trees, and often, early morning mist. The dam is flanked by the Kubusi Indigenous State Forest north of it, and Driebos State Forest on its south eastern edge. Further north west of Kubusi is the Kologha Forest Reserve (also sometimes spelt Xhologha).
The drive connecting the dam with the Kologha Forest is incredible. If you have the time, drive it, particularly as there are three walks through Kologha indigenous forest, the second largest natural forest in the country after the one in Knysna.

The dam is well endowed with rainbow and brown trout and has its own angling club, the Stutterheim Trout Fishing Club, which you can contact for a fishing permit. The dam permits only sail boats, which you can hire from a local boat provider, and no power boats sully the beauty with noise or pollution.

Gubu has its own campsite, on the north east of the dam, and picnic areas with braais and public ablutions set in amongst trees. On the edge of the indigenous forest is an adventure company offering forest walks, mountain bike trail (up to Mount Thomas and through indigenous forest for 25 km), kayaking, and guided forest walks in the area.
The campsite does not have formal ‘sites’, nor do you need to book ahead, allowing visitors to set up more or less as they like. You will need your own firewood and braai grid.