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The Primary Forts In Jamaica
And Their Locations
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Forts In Jamaica | The Old Montego Fort in St. James
Ever since the English defeated the Spanish and took Jamaica in 1655, Jamaica was said to be in constant threat by invaders, hence the need for forts in Jamaica.
Initially the main concern was Port Royal, which was the hub of commerce and economic activity, but the need developed for the entire island as the invasions were imminent.
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Labour for their construction was mainly from the slaves at the time, usually from neighboring estates. They were typically built on high ground above the sea, but in some cases, some were build on the sand on low ground.
And yes, they were designed and build with various strengths, based on the number of guns to be mounted. At the peak of the 'fortification', which was in 1780, fearing French attacks, there were over 20 forts in Jamaica.
All these forts were declared national monuments by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust.
Names Of Primary Forts In Jamaica
The following are the primary ones.
- Fort Augusta (St. Catherine)
Located off the road that leads to Portmore in St. Catherine is this imposing structure.
Now a prison for women, it was the fort that guarded the western end of the Kingston Harbour.
It was completed in the 1750's and name Augusta in honor of the mother of King George 111. It was fortified by about 80 guns.
- Fort Charles (Kingston)
The oldest fort in Jamaica, Fort Charles, located in Port Royal, was build immediately after the English defeated the Spanish to take the island.
It was named Fort Cromwell on Cagway, but after restoration of the monarchy in 1660, it was renamed Fort Charles, and Cagway became known as Port Royal.
It is also one of the oldest in the western hemisphere!
- Fort Charlotte (Hanover)
Located in Lucea the capital of Hanover, Fort Charlotte was so name after the consort of King George 3rd who was reigning when it was built. |
Ruseas High school occupies a part of this old fort. It is said that two of the early cannons can still be seen there.
- Fort Clarence (St. Catherine)
Found in the Hellshire Hills of St. Catherine, Fort Clarence preserves the names of one of a ring of forts that protected the prized Kingston Harbour. It is situated a the food of Port Henderson hill.
Originally, it was named Fort Small, the name of its builder, but was renamed Fort Clarence around 1799 after William, Duke of Clarence, it is assumed.
- For Dundas (Trelawny)
Dated 1778 and named after the then British Secretary of War, Henry Dunday, remnants of Fort Dunda can still be seen behind the school at Rio Bueno in Trelawany.
- Fort George (Portland)
Built of 3m thick walls and holding 22 guns, this fort was build at a time when there was great fear of Spanish attacks on the north coast.
But the maroon threats were even more real and so British regiments arrived even before the barracks here were finished.
Unfortunately many of the troops died from illnesses.
The fort however was operational up until the first world war and is now a part of the Titchfield High School.
- Fort Haldane (St. Mary)
Named after General George Haldane, the governor in 1759, Fort Haldane is now only a ruin but can still be identified at Gray's Charity, an elderly home in Port Maria.
- Fort Johnston (St. Catherine)
Another fort in the parish of St. Catherine, Fort Johnston is located in the Hellshire Hills as well.
Like Fort Clarence, it was constructed when England was threatened y both France and Spain.
- Fort Lindsay (St. Thomas)
Built in 1745 at Morant Point in St. Thomas. It had a magazine and barracks attached.
Senior wrote that after the first world war, the government rented out the lands near the barracks and used the money to help war veterans of St. Thomas.
- Fort Williams (St. Thomas)
Also now in ruins, Fort William was located at Prospect, opposite Fort Lindsay.
It guarded the western side of the entrance toe Port Morant Harbour.
- Fort Montego (St. James)
We already did an extensive feature on Fort Montego here, but it is worth mentioning that Fort Montego was built primarily to guard the approaches to Montego Bay.
It was one of the largest but was also one of the most inefficient and one with many stories.
In 1760 one of the rusty guns exploded and killed a gunner while they were firing to celebrate the surrender of Havana to the English.
It is said that the only record of firing at a ship was actually in error, when a vessel of their own, the schooner Mercury, was coming in at dawn in December 1795 with a cargo of dogs from Cuba to hunt Maroons.
There was no damage apparently because it was so inefficient. You are read more on Fort Montego here.
- Fort Morant (St. Thomas)
Built in 1773, and designed for nine guns is the Fort Morant. It once had a magazine and barracks attached as well.
Remains from this fort can be seen in the town of Morant Bay.
- Fort Nugent (Kingston)
The now Harbour View Housing Scheme is located on the site of this fort that once guarded any approach from the eastern side to Kingston.
The first fortification was said to be by a Spanish slave agent, James Castillo) but was reinforced by Sir George Nugent, governor between 1801 and 1806, who also was commander in chief of Jamaica.
Today only the ruins of the Martello Tower that was build 1806 circa, are evident.
- Ocho Rios Fort (St. Ann)
Located right on the highway in Ocho Rios is the Ocho Rios Fort which was build tin the late 17th century but strengthened in 1780, like many of the others when French attacks were feared.
It has the esteem of defending and attack from an enemy vessel in 1795 that diverted to Mammee Bay, fearing Ocho Rios itself. The fort was rebuilt by Reynolds Jamaica and contains two o the original guns that defended the town at Mammee Bay.
- Savanna La Mar Fort (Westmoreland)
According to the JNHT, this fort, which was unfinished, had no name on record and hence simply called the fort.
But Senior recorded that it was in fact, named Fort George.
In 1755 when the admiral inspected it, he pronounced it the very world in the island; although the inhabitants shad laid out a vast sum of money for the defense, the fort was never finished, and one-third had already collapse into the sea!
It can be seen at the end of Great Georges Street in the parish capital.
- St. Ann's Bay Fort (St. Ann)
Located west of St. Ann's Bay, the capital of St. Ann is the St. Ann's Bay Fort.
It was built about 1750 with stone blocks from Sevilla la Nueva. It was declared useless in In 1795, because the sea was encroaching in on it.
A new fort was later built at Windsor Point on the other side of the bay. The old St. Ann's Bay fort was then used as a jail. Up until recently, the fort was said to be used as a slaughter house but is now in ruin.
- RockFort (Kingston)
Harbour Head, later to be called Rockfort, was the located of this fort.
It was first fortified against an expected French invasion by Santa Domingo in 1694. However, the french avoided the fort and attacked further west at Carlyle Bay.
The fort was later enlarged to hold a total of 17 large guns all covering approaches from the east. It was fortified during the Morant Bay Rebellion of 1865. The town got its name form the fort.
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- Other Port Royal Forts
The wickedest city on earth then needed to be well fortified and it was.
There were over 1500 volunteers in the armed militia in 1688 in Port Royal and it was surrounded by six (6) forts, namely Fort Charles, Fort James, Fort Carlisle, Fort Rupert, Fort Morgan and Fort Walker.
Most were destroyed in the earthquake of 1692. Read more on Port Royal here.
The following are their construction dates:
>Fort Charles (1678), also called Fort Carlisle - named after Charles Earl of Carlisle, Governor of Jamaica (1678-1680).
> Fort James (1673), named after the brother of King Charles
> Fort Rupert (1678) - It was known after the English revolution of 1688 as the 'sea fort'.
>Fort Morgan (1678 and 1680) - It was also called Morgan's Line.
>Fort Walker (1680's) - Colonel Walker, the commander of Fort Charles
>Fort Rocky (1888) - It remained in place until the end of the Second World War when most of the guns were returned to England.
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References For Forts In Jamaica
- Forts In Jamaica, Jamaica National Heritage Trust, http://www.jnht.com/forts_text.php
- Senior, Olive, Encyclopedia Of Jamaican Heritage, 2003
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