Wed | Nov 22, 2017

Fort Charlotte prelim works begin

Published:Tuesday | October 4, 2016 | 12:00 AMClaudia Gardner
The excavation equipment being used in the demolition exercise at Fort Charlotte. To the right is the fort's old armoury.

Phase one of the renovation works at the historic Fort Charlotte in Lucea, Hanover, commenced recently as a precursor to the restoration and preservation works scheduled for the 255-year-old national monument.

Several dilapidated structures, which once housed the National Works Agency, have been knocked down and the rubble removed.

The Fort Charlotte property is owned by the Hanover Parish Council. The restoration project is being funded by the Tourism Enhancement Fund and supervised by the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo).

"We have demolished all the buildings that were unsound. We are going to be retrofitting one or two. We are going to be doing some work on the armoury because it is the only historical building outside of the fort," Mayor of Lucea Wynter McIntosh told Western Focus.

"We are going to be doing paving of the car park. Then, from the Hanover Parish Council perspective, we are going to be putting up bathroom facilities. We are going to be putting in one or two craft shops for now temporarily. We are going to be putting in the guard rails and the seats and a ticketing booth," the mayor added. McIntosh said projections are that the fort will be ready to officially accommodate visitors within the first quarter of 2017.

"So the fort will be operational within another six months. We are hoping a that a small fee will be charged just for maintenance purposes because certainly, the facility will have to be maintained, and we plan to provide some services to people, so we will have an information desk," he explained.

"The big picture is to have one or two of the franchises - KFC, Burger King - and a state-of-the art restaurant and also a local restaurant so tourists and our locals can have somewhere they can sit and have a proper meal and have some recreational time."

Fort Charlotte was built in 1761 by the British, for the defence of the north westerly section of Jamaica, during the reign of King George III of England (who was of German ancestry), and was named after his wife Queen Charlotte.

In September 2014, former Tourism Minister Dr Wykeham McNeill, accompanied by his permanent secretary and other senior tourism officials, toured sections of Lucea, including Fort Charlotte. The minister had declared that remedial works must be carried out at the fort as a matter of urgency.

A proposal for the fort's restoration also fell through more than 15 years ago. In 2001, the TPDCo had allocated $2 million for the commencement of restoration works at the fort; however, it failed to get off the ground due to a dispute between the council and the National Works Agency, whose parish offices were sited at the property.

The TPDCo plans for the fort had included retaining its Georgian architectural style and the construction of facilities such as an amphitheatre, a museum, restaurants, and gift shops.

claudia.gardner@gleanerjm.com