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Ladder Hill Fort

This is one of seven former fortifications on the Island and is located above Jamestown on Ladder Hill and accessed by a winding road up the valley side or, more interestingly, via Jacob’s Ladder. The picture below, which I love, is a rather stylised picture of the road to the Fort, painted in 1821 by James Walten – a rather famous British traveller and artist of the time. The cliffs are not quite that sheer – as you can see from photos in my Jacob’s Ladder review.

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Road to Ladder Hill Fort by James Walten

The Fort, which was manned throughout World Wars I and II consisted of a Barracks, battery and furnaces. The furnaces were used to heat shot to enable the delivery of red-hot balls from the fort’s guns. One of these guns remains in the grounds of the Signal House and is still used for firing salutes. A little along the road you will find two six inch coastal artillery pieces left over from the 2nd World War. I have been unable to find out when the fort was built (clearly pre-1821 when the drawing alongside was done – it was refurbished and enlarged in 1873) or indeed a lot more about it and I can find no record of any attack on it or hostile fire from it. For reasons related in the next paragraph there is no incentive for the authorities to maintain or refurbish is historic fort.

Today the former Barracks has a number of residents and a fire station is located within the Fort. The views out to sea (James Bay) from the fort are fantastic – a fact not lost on developers who are currently eyeing up the Barracks for development as a luxury hotel (based on the anticipated increase in visitor numbers to the island when the airport is finally completed, a story in itself).

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View from Ladder Hill Fort

Disgusting if you ask me. Proponents of the hotel development assess the current housing as verging on uninhabitable – a view not shared by the residents! Development comes to St Helena. I have probably adequately belaboured my view elsewhere but will repeat it again here – if at all possible you should visit St Helena before the airport is completed.

To be honest there is not a lot of historical interest at the Fort today but it is most certainly worth coming here for the views out to sea and down into Jamestown.


This blog entry is one of a group (loop) of entries on my trip to St Helena.  I suggest you continue with my next entry – Her Majesty’s Prison – St Helena – or to start the loop at the beginning go to my St Helena Introduction entry.


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