Construction of amazing Fort George commenced in 1612. It is a superb example of the history of Bermuda, as it is one of the first settlers’ first military installations, built not long after arriving on our shores from Britain.
Its purpose was to guard the north of the Island and formed part of quite an imposing string of defences that sprung up around St. George’s. It started life as Riches Mount, named after Governor Moore, and was a mere small wooden lookout turret and, after this was destroyed by a hurricane in 1619, was rebuilt to include a gun fixture.
It then remained relatively unchanged for around 160 years, when it was given a massive and swift upgrade by British Royal Engineers and quickly grew in size to become a defence of some power and might, during a period of significant world history – the American War of Independence (1775–1783).
Completed and renamed Fort George in 1788, after the British monarch King George III, it was a defiant act by the British after the US victory in the War.
In the 1840’s, it was further enhanced to become a redoubt fort (this is where a military installation has armaments on the exterior and interior of a building or site – a sort of double protection system). It was built in an 8-pointed star shape which can still clearly be seen, particularly from aerial photographs, and comprised an inner keep with protective, perimeter wall and dry moat with access by drawbridge. It had munitions inside and outside the perimeter wall as well as a 150 ft (45m) escape tunnel and was manned round-the-clock.
In 1871, several 11-inch rifled muzzle loader guns – which are, as the name suggests, loaded from the muzzle or gun barrel – each weighing a massive 25 tons and manufactured by the oyal Gun Factory of London, were installed to protect the Island. One of these remains today and is eerily pointed towards the cruise ships docked at St. George’s Town!
Because of the Fort’s spectacular and distant viewpoints from St. George’s Harbour around to St. David’s Island and the Atlantic Ocean, the Bermuda Maritime Operations Centre has set up its headquarters here and the Fort is now a hub of national and international maritime operations.
Owned and run by the Government of Bermuda Department of Marine & Ports Services, Fort George is now home to search and rescue under Rescue Co-ordination Centre (RCC) which often receives distress calls covering the whole of the Western Atlantic Ocean, management of identification of traffic under Vessel Traffic Surveillance Center (VTS) and vital communications and relay services using the Coast Radio Station (CRS).
Fort George Bermuda
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Fort George in Bermuda – Part of Elbow Beach Cycles’ Things To Do in Bermuda series!