Fort Montego or Old Fort Heritage Park
Fort Montego, more popularly known by the locals as 'Old Fort' is located along Fort Street in Montego, in the vicinity of Walter Fletcher beach and is a neighbour to the Craft Market just at the entrance to to the Hip Strip along the renamed Jimmy Cliff Blvd. This piece of Jamaican History is well maintained. The walls have been repaired and the cannons treated and painted. Even the perimeter gates have been rebuilt in the similar architectural style. Visitors and locals alike can take advantage of the stylist wooden and iron framed seats to relax and take a break. A small modern day light house is also located on the property.
Fort Montego was one of the many forts built as part of the coastal defenses of Jamaica during the early 1700's. Fort Montego (also called Fort Frederick and Fort George) was always well maintained and in 1779 underwent reconstruction. It was then that the platform, parapet wall, paving and new powder magazine were built. The Fort did not see much military action, but the cannons and guns were fired more often to celebrate the British Monarchs birthdays, or the visit to Montego Bay of important-persons such as the Governor.
Fort Montego designed by European engineers, was built by enslaved Jamaican to guard the town of Montego Bay. Built in the shape of a polygon, the traditional shapes of forts, it had a battery armed with cannons and a barracks to house 100 men. It also had an armoury for weapons and ammunition well as a small hospital with 40 beds. It was last manned in 1832.
Cannons were used in the forts for the defence of the Harbours. Fort Montego had seventeen cannons mounted in its heyday. Three (3) remain, two (2) dated 1810 and one (1) 1813. These are cast iron cannons manufactured by the Carron and Company works Falkirk, Scotland. They were mounted on iron carriages, then state of the art, firing shot weighing 24 pounds, hence known as the 'twenty four pounders' taking up to 13 men to fire them.
All forts had buildings in which weapons and ammunition were kept safe. These were known as armouries and were heavily fortified buildings. The thick walls provided protection from direct hits, even the roof is built from cut stone to deflect shots fired at it. Their location in a fort was deemed to be one of the safest places away from the direct fire from the attackers. This armory was so well built that it has lasted for nearly two centuries