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The Montagu Pass and Toll House were constructed between 1844 and 1847 by Henry Fancourt (Australian surveyor and engineer) and declared National Monuments in 1972.
The pass provided quicker access to George for farmers from the little Karoo and Langkloof..
Animals, carts and wagons had to pay toll. A penny for an animal (amount depended on the size of the animal) and a penny per wheel was charged to farmers, transporters and postal carts who travelled back and forth from the hinterland.
The toll house was erected to provide accommodation for the toll keeper and his family. Indigenous sandstone was used and it originally had a thatched roof, but unfortunately the thatch was destroyed by a fire on 23 July 1855 and was replaced with corrugated iron. The shape of the building has been described to be that of a coffin. The wall at the roadside has four corners making up two angled side walls and the central entrance wall which was shaped in this way to enable the toll keeper to see the oncoming traffic from both sides. The stones were not packed to form the corners, but large sandstone blocks were hewn to the required angles. The eight paned windows were shuttered and the outline of a gable window, which was closed up later, can still be seen today.
The stone structure has deteriorated badly over the years through weathering by the elements. Due to its remote location much damage was caused to the interior by vagrants who regularly broke down the shuttered doors to seek shelter and ripped up the timber floor boards to make fire. Later thieves used a chain saw to remove the solid yellow wood beams and three internal doors were removed.
Despite the fact that the old Toll House was declared a National Monument in 1972, it has received no attention. The Friends of the Toll House, a non-profit organization, founded by Gerda Stols, was created to restore this old beauty to her original splendor. Steps were taken to safeguard the building, burglar proofing was clamped to the stone walls, covering five windows and two doors during early 2011. Sadly this did not stop a timber thief who cut away a steel bar and ripped up the remaining oregan pine flooring.
The Old lady has since received much love and attention. This is an ongoing process to preserve a piece of history in the oldest unaltered pass still in use in South Africa.
Montagu Pass Old Toll House Reviews
It’s a must do! Wonderful and magnificent experience! Very sad to see it burned out. Just the stone and mortar structure stands for now. Nonetheless it’s an amazing trip. I highly recommend.
On the way to the Old toll house via Montagu pass is a must. It is absolutely magnificent! I'm sorry for what the fire has left behind but what the women do to restore it ... i really hope that you get to restore it to its formal glory.
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