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Fort Charles, the first fort constructed in Port Royal, Jamaica
Photo: JIS Photographer

Story Highlights

  • Jamaicans and overseas visitors to Fort Charles in the historic town of Port Royal, Kingston, which boasts over 500 years of history, will get a new experience.
  • Thanks to the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) and other Government agencies, Fort Charles will be opened to the public on Monday, February 24. The PAJ is planning a media tour on the same day at 9:30 a.m. to officially open the facility.
  • The restoration of Fort Charles is part of the Port Royal development plan which aims to transform the historic town, into a thriving centre for tourism. The redevelopment plan also includes the newly constructed cruise ship terminal, building of a museum, among other works.

Jamaicans and overseas visitors to Fort Charles in the historic town of Port Royal, Kingston, which boasts over 500 years of history, will get a new experience.

Thanks to the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) and other Government agencies, Fort Charles will be opened to the public on Monday, February 24. The PAJ is planning a media tour on the same day at 9:30 a.m. to officially open the facility.

The restoration of Fort Charles is part of the Port Royal development plan which aims to transform the historic town, into a thriving centre for tourism. The redevelopment plan also includes the newly constructed cruise ship terminal, building of a museum, among other works.

Fort Charles was built in the late 1650-60 and underwent several changes between 1656 -1670. In 1667, the fort had 36 guns and by 1765 it had 104 guns and a garrison with 500 men.

Assistant Vice President of Marketing and Communications at the PAJ, Kimberley Stiff told JIS News that refurbishing works at Fort Charles should be completed before the official opening.

“We are working feverishly to complete what we described as the new Fort Charles experience, which should be available to the public as well as the tourists on February 24,” she said.

Assistant Vice President of Marketing and Communications at the Port Authority of Jamaica, Kimberley Stiff.

 

She informed that passengers arriving on the Marella Discovery 11 cruise ship, scheduled to dock at the new Port Royal cruise port on that day, will also experience the refurbished facility.

Miss Stiff said that Fort Charles will be revitalised with additional features, including an officers’ quarters, a magazine, where ammunition and gun powder were stored, a new ticket booth and a merchandise shop.

The Fort will also feature the 17th Century history and mystique of Port Royal, a historic museum, the Victoria Battery, along with external displays such as cannons and other replicas.

There is also a new Giddy House, a lopsided building built in 1888 and was the old Royal Artillery Store for the Victoria Battery.

It was named Giddy House since persons entering the building often feel a strange giddy sensation or off balance caused by the building’s tilt. Miss Stiff said that the new Giddy House exhibit building would be adjacent to the original Giddy House.

“We are trying to preserve it so we have a replica made beside it. There is also a new ticket booth as well as a souvenir shop,” she said.
Other attractions to be introduced include a Port Royal Museum, a live Archaeological Dig, a Pirate Wharf and the Sunken City Museum.

Miss Stiff said the PAJ has been working with the Jamaica National Heritage Trust throughout the refurbishing process, so as to ensure the preservation of artefacts.

“The preservation of the artefacts was done in conjunction with the JNHT, the agency served as a guide…anything that has to do with the historical aspect they are involved,” she added.
Further, Miss Stiff stated that activities at the Fort will focus on a time placement of 1807 to help communicate its role during the ‘Age of Admirals’ and the 30 years prior to and after 1807.

She said that it will highlight the West Indian Regiment, which consisted of black Jamaicans and Africans, who manned Fort Charles during that period.

“So because we want to highlight the liberated black soldiers we have focused the whole experience around the 1807 time, so that is the essential consideration behind that selection,” she explained.

According to Ms. Stiff, the historic significance of the site will be reinforced with a guided tour by trained costumed story tellers, who are aware of the history of Fort Charles and will be able “to give the whole mystic and vibe of Port Royal during the 17th century.”

Fort Charles, the first fort constructed in Port Royal, Jamaica

“So persons would be transported in time to that period both aesthetically and during the whole tour experience there,” she stated.

Miss Stiff said that Fort Charles is being positioned as an attraction for both local and overseas visitors. “It would be operational regardless of whether a ship is in Port or not,” she added.

She also urged Jamaicans to visit the Fort, adding that the PAJ has already started to receive requests from schools and groups. However, she is advising groups to book tours in advance.

“So if we are going to have large groups it would be advisable to tell us that you are coming so that we can have an effective ratio of tour guides to visitors so that everybody can have a fulsome experience,” she said.

She said that entrance fees to Fort Charles for non-resident cost US$20 for adults and US$12 for children. For Jamaican resident, it will cost $800 for adults and $500 for children and $450 for a children group.

Entrance fees for a guided tour of Fort Charles for non-resident is US$40 for adults and US$24 for children, while a guided tour for Jamaican resident is $1,800 for adults and $1,000 for children. Persons are advised to have a national issued identification when visiting the attraction.

 

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