Log In

Reset Password

Fort Albert gets makeover by an army of volunteers

First Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Next Last
Fort Albert after months of work by volunteers to remove overgrowth and dumped waste (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A disused fort at St George’s has been cleared of dumped waste and overgrowth by an army of volunteers, bringing the historic structure part way back to its former glory.

Peter Barrett, the chairman of the St George’s Foundation, said that while more work must still be done at the fort, he could see it becoming an attraction for visitors in the same way as Fort Scaur or Fort Hamilton.

“What the foundation is looking at is that there is so much here. In order to enrich visitors’ experiences, we would want to have summer students working here, so if anyone wants to pay a nominal fee for a proper tour, they could go ahead and do that,” he said.

“If this place is reasonably busy or better, and there’s no reason to think it shouldn’t be, it could be a great summer job. We could have two students here, two at Fort Victoria and two at Ferry Point Park.

“It won’t be done this summer, but hopefully next summer. It would be fantastic if this could run along with the same framework as Fort Scaur.”

Writing dated December 29, 1893, seen in a passageway below Fort Albert (Photograph by Owain Johnston-Barnes

He said that historic fortifications are a draw for visitors, noting a recent trip he had taken to visit a castle in Scotland.

“The whole back wall of this large castle had fallen over, but by some miracle it was still safe to walk around,” Mr Barrett said. “The inside was full of signage, and there was a large building about 200 yards away with a huge gift shop, a food court and all sorts of things.

“There was this whole industry around this dilapidated castle. Fort Albert beats it by a factor of 30.”

He said that volunteers who came to the site for the first time to assist with the clean-up have been blown away with what they have seen.

“Even people going to school here were not brought up here. Growing up, their friends weren’t saying they should come to the fort,” he said.

“There’s just no awareness, and I think there’s no awareness because people don’t understand the intrinsic value of this, not just from a heritage point of view but from a tourism economics point of view.”

A walk through some of the now-accessible passageways in the fort reveal an array of graffiti, including pencil notes that appear to have been written by those working in the 1890s.

Fort Albert (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Fort Albert was originally completed in 1843 to complement and support Fort Victoria and was named after Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria.

Unusually, almost all the stone used to build the fort was quarried at the site through the creation of the moat as at the time of its construction most hard stone was needed to build Dockyard.

The fort was renovated between 1865 and 1876 to replace cannon with more advanced rifled muzzle-loading guns but was abandoned by the early 1900s.

The guns that had once been housed at the fort were moved to Fort St Catherine in the 1970s after the decision was made to turn that fort into an attraction.

The Fort Albert site was later modified to host a nightclub as part of the Club Med Hotel property, but was abandoned again when the hotel shut its doors in 1989.

Fort Albert (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Since then, Mr Barrett said the site became overgrown and was used as an illegal dumping site.

“All of the waste that was in the fort was never properly removed and taken to the airport dump or any other dump,” he said. “It was simply a dumping zone.

“In some areas, we have cleared out as much as 30ft. It was incredibly dense.

“We got this done by coming out on average once a week — once a week for six months. If you do that, it really adds up to a lot of work.”

He said the foundation was fortunate to have its efforts bolstered by corporate groups such as Deloitte & Touche, community groups including the Sri Lankan Association of Bermuda and schools such as Somersfield Academy.

“We are still reaching out to corporate Bermuda, and some of them have responded favourably by coming out and doing what they can,” Mr Barrett said.

“It adds up. There is no getting around it, it is an enormous about of work. I have to hand it to my volunteers. To come out here every week shows it is a labour of love.”

Fort Albert (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
A recently cleared moat in Fort Albert (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Debris and overgrowth at Fort Albert in mid-2023 (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published February 05, 2024 at 7:57 am (Updated February 05, 2024 at 7:57 am)

Fort Albert gets makeover by an army of volunteers

What you
Need to
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon