Princess Royal Fortress

Princess Royal FortressNeil McKnight
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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.