Go to the Labyrinth of East London Lore

Boer prison camp
at East London

Keith Tankard
Updated: 14 October 2009
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The South African War -- also known as the Anglo-Boer War -- brought to East London a sizeable contingent of Boer prisoners-of-war for embarkation to concentration camps overseas. There is almost total silence in all the records about these prisoners, apart from a description of their prison camp on the West Bank.

The camp adjoined the site of the old cemetery next to the sea on the West Bank, and measured 300 by 70 yards. It was surrounded by a corrugated iron fence, was lit by 32 incandescent lamps and had water supplied by the municipality from nearby springs.

The kitchen was an iron shed, open on the seaward side and capable of cooking 200 pots at a time. Latrines were provided in two iron sheds, holding 60 and 80 pails respectively. The camp could accommodate about 1,000 prisoners.

Although situated on the municipal commonage, Council documents are strangely silent about its existence. It is presumed, therefore, that the prison fell under a blanket permission which the Councillors had given to the Imperial authorities to use the commonage in whatever way they saw fit.

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