With the Grosvenor cannon in Durban’s Old Fort are Dudley Sparks in 1906.
With the Grosvenor cannon in Durban’s Old Fort are Dudley Sparks in 1906.
With the Grosvenor cannon in Durban’s Old Fort are are Jandré Smith, left, and Daniel Myburgh both Members of the Dundee Diehards’ re-enactment society and dressed in the 19th century uniform of the 24th Regiment of Foot (2nd Warwickshire).
With the Grosvenor cannon in Durban’s Old Fort are are Jandré Smith, left, and Daniel Myburgh both Members of the Dundee Diehards’ re-enactment society and dressed in the 19th century uniform of the 24th Regiment of Foot (2nd Warwickshire).
Durban - The Grosvenor, an East Indiaman, was wrecked on the Pondoland stretch of the Wild Coast, north of Port St Johns on August 4, 1782.

Chartered by the East India Company, it had to function as a merchant and passenger ship as well as an armed vessel. The Grosvenor was pierced for 26 guns although it is possible it had more. Its registered tonnage was 729, but was chartered at 499 tons. The reason for this anomaly was that, in East India Company policy, any vessel over 500 tons had to carry a chaplain. He cost money because his wages had to be paid, but it was felt he brought an insufficient return for the outlay.

Besides, the crew were quite happy to dispense with the recitation of the Prayer for the Honourable English Company.

Consequently, the company practised its deceit. Perhaps, in light of the subsequent tragedy, it wished it had not.

On what was intended to be its final voyage, the Grosvenor was sailing from Madras to England, laden with cargo and 150 people on board. Driven on to rocks close to the shore, all but 15 people safely made it ashore. However, in the following months, most of the survivors died in their desperate search for help.

In later years, there were visitors to the site of the wreck, including Durban’s first mayor George Cato, who visited in 1853. According to the Natal Mercury, he saw pieces of cannon and ballast embedded in the sand and found the odd gold coin.

In 1880, Sidney Turner from Durban mounted a serious search for valuables from the wreck. Among those seen were nine of the cannon lying among the rocks, of which five are believed to have been recovered.

One of these cannon was brought back to Durban. Although the exact date when it arrived at the Old Fort is not known, it would probably be at this time.

The first photo, taken in 1903, shows Dudley Sparks standing next to the Grosvenor cannon.

The second was taken on August 31 this year at the unveiling of two other special artillery pieces, the newly-restored six-pounder Rifled Breech Loader Armstrong guns.

Now kept secure indoors at the Old Fort, these two guns fired the salute at King Cetshwayo’s coronation in 1873. Travelling down for the unveiling were two young men from the Dundee Diehards.

The Independent on Saturday