Princess Royal Fortress

Princess Royal FortressNeil McKnight688 x 380 px. 56.7 Kb.

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Princess Royal Fortress

Princess Royal Fortress was the first coastal de­fense of Australia built in 1893 to pro­tect the strategic harbour of King George Sound.

In 1887 plans were made to con­struct a coastal de­fense con­sist­ing of three moun­ted 6 inch guns, two magazines, a laboratory, artill­ery store, sub­mar­ine min­ing store and office, together with a gun shed, two 9 pound field guns, quarters for married officers and NCOs and barracks for 28 men. Facili­ties in­cluded an un­de­rground 9000-gallon water tank, 5-acre paddock, flag staff and flag box and a 1.5-m­ile access road.

Con­struc­tion began in May 1891 and was com­­ple­ted in 1893. The pro­ject em­ployed 30 men and cost over 15,700 pounds with fund­ing pro­vided by all states of Australia and guns dona­ted from En­gland.

­In 1959 all coastal de­fenses were dec­ommissioned due to the adv­ent of miss­ile warfare.

The 6.5-­ton armoured guns were moun­ted in wells blas­ted from granite rock and re­in­forced with 1500 cubic yards of con­crete. The 5-foot thick maga­zine walls were covered with 10 feet of earth to make them bomb proof.

The guns com­man­ded a 300-degree field from Middle­ton Beach, across the Sound and to the in­ner harbour. At 4000 yards, a shot would pierce 4-inch steel armour, thicker than any ship at the time had.

A local artill­ery force of 60 men man­ned the forts, with a further in­fantry of 300 men to be pro­vided from Perth and surrounds.

In 1959, all coastal de­fenses were dec­ommissioned due to the adv­ent of miss­ile warfare and the site fell into dis­re­pair.

The Albany Council obtained the site in 1983 and began plann­ing re­stor­ation. Through several stages, and the help of gov­ern­ment fund­ing, 'The Forts' opened in 1992 as a historic milit­ary pre­cinct in time for its centen­ary year.

In 2014, to mark the centen­ary of ANZAC con­voys leav­ing for Gallipoli, a $2.8m upgrade of the pre­cinct was com­­ple­ted, add­ing the new National ANZAC Centre as the centrepiece.

Article updated 02/09/2015.