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Coastal Forts

With fears that the Russians would expand their territory and attack English settlements that were far from the homeland, England ordered the construction to protect its southern colony.

“The colonists were afraid that a raiding squadron might be sent to South Australia to attack our shipping off the Semaphore anchorage,”

One of what was meant to be a three fort defence line, a second fort was built at Taperoo (now part of the Police Academy), with a third planned for Glenelg.


An extract from the March 1976 Portonian


By Josie Wilkinson

The guns of Fort Glanville were probably fired for the last time at the turn of the century, quite possibly in 1903. It is the aim of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (who have taken over the Fort) to restore Fort Glanville to its former glory and fire its restored guns to mark the completion of the project.

Firing the Fort’s guns will be a fitting and yet ironic end to this ambitious restoration project – “fitting” because Glanville is a military installation and was carefully sited at Point Malcolm to provide maximum protection for the Port; “ironic” because, despite several Russian scares, the guns have only been shot in practice and this was done less and less frequently so they would not wear out.

Fort Glanville has long been a prominent feature of the metropolitan coastline, and its restoration has raised much interest from local people and visitors who have used the adjacent camping grounds. Much of the credit for the restoration must go to Frank Garie, a member of the Military Historical Society, who has spent the last 6 years arguing the case for restoring the Fort, and who has provided accurate plans of the layout and blue-prints of the guns, so that Fort Glanville can be authentically restored.

The problem of defending the Australian coastline and colonies was always present in 1800’s. Until Federation in 1901, each of the Australian colonies was responsible for its own defence although it was conceded that the British Navy would always assist if necessary. There were two main approaches to defending colonies then – using warships and mounting long range guns at strategic points.

In S. A. the most vulnerable settlements were the capital Adelaide, and the two other commercial centres, Port Adelaide and Glenelg. Adelaide was too far inland to be vulnerable to ship-borne guns.