Fort Charlotte, Saint Vincent
|Part of Kingstown, Saint Vincent|
|Edinboro road, Saint Andrew|
Entrance to Fort Charlotte
|Built||1763 and completed by 1806|
Fort Charlotte is a British-colonial era fort, built on a hill over-looking the harbour of Kingstown, Saint Vincent. It is located in the parish of Saint Andrew, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. at the top of Edinboro road, on Berkshire Hill, just west of the town.
Standing at 600 feet above the sea level, it is the major early 19th century fortification in Saint Vincent. The fort enjoys a panoramic view of the Leeward side of the island, including Kingstown, Young Island, the Caribbean, Bequia and the Grenadines. On a clear day, Grenada 90 miles to the south, can be seen (using binoculars of course.)
On re-taking the island in 1763 from the French, the British commenced the building of the fort with interruptions, see the Wikipedia article on Saint Vincent (Antilles) for an in-depth history.
Construction started in 1763 and was completed by 1806. Saint Vincent (Antilles). In its heyday, it supported 600 troops and 34 guns. Some cannon are dated 1811.
It was built to defend against French attack, Carib unrest, and slave rebellion. The British garrison were to use it for holding out against any French invading forces while the Royal Navy brought reinforcements from other islands. The British had learnt a lesson when the French invaded the island at Calliaqua in 1779 thus proving that any likely attack on the island would come from any location, rather than directly on Kingstown itself or from the sea. Consequently, the fort was built as a redoubt accessed by a viaduct; with its cannon pointing inland.
At various times the fort was used as a poor house, Leper colony, and mental hospital. These institutions were housed in now ruined Barracks facing the Kingstown harbor, at the bottom of the hill. The fort served as the Vincentian prison. The main barracks building housed a women’s prison capable of holding 50 prisoners, commonly held up to 15 prisoners closed in mid 2015. The dry moat was used as the women prisoner’s exercise yard.
The fort is the home of the Fort Charlotte Light, which acts as a beacon for the entrance to Kingstown Bay, it gives off three white flashes every 20 seconds. The Coastguard radio station and harbour signal station are based here too.
Other local fortifications
Fort Duvernette, also known locally as Rock Fort is now a ruin, although there are still cannon there pointing out to sea. It is located on Duvernette Islet, immediately to the south of Young Island. The islet is a volcanic plug of hard columnar basalt, and rises 195 foot out of the sea.
Wilkie’s Battery, is the sister fortification to Fort Duvernette. In the late 1800s the building was converted into the Villa Estate’s cotton drying-house, and later into a private residence in the 1940s. In 1964 it was converted into the Grand View Beach Hotel.
The French built these two forts prior to giving up occupation of the island to the British in 1763. This was at a time when Calliaqua was the commercial hub of the island. Both fell into disrepair once the construction of Fort Charlotte commenced.
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