Friday, 5 August 2016

I have been to ... Fort Charlotte, Lerwick, Shetland Islands

The fort that currently stands near to the seafront of Lerwick is the third to have been built on the site.

The first fort was built during the First Anglo-Dutch War, and was replaced by a second during the Second Anglo-Dutch War. This second fort cost £28,000 in 1665, and even though it was unfinished it held off a Dutch attack in 1667. Unfortunately its garrison was withdrawn at the end of the war and not reinstated when the Third Anglo-Dutch War started, with the result that the fort was unmanned and burned to the ground by the Dutch in 1673.

The third (and current) fort was built on the same site in 1781. It was named after King George III's wife, Queen Charlotte. It was garrisoned during the Napoleonic Wars, and was later used as Lerwick's jail and courthouse and as a customs house and coastguard station. It has also served as a local base for Royal Naval Reserve, and currently houses the local Territorial Army unit and a Cadet Force unit.

Fort Charlotte is now managed by Historic Scotland.

We entered the fort through one of the side gateways ...

... and emerged into the open centre of the fort.

An excellent guide to the fort was situated near to where we had entered.

We then climbed atop the gateway through which we had come, and this gave us a panoramic view of the fort.

Having climbed down again, we walked to the far side of the fort in order to see it from that point of view.

Along the seaward side of the fort were a number of replica 18-pounder cannons ...

... some of which had proof markings from 1991 to indicate that they could be used to fire salutes.

We then walked towards the barrack block ...

... which is still in use by the local Territorial Army unit, the G Troop, 212 (Highland) Battery, 105th Regiment, Royal Artillery.

We then made our way towards the rear gateway, and this gave us the opportunity to see the landward wall of the fort.

We then passed through the gateway ...

... and made our way uphill towards Lerwick's Town Hall.

A short history of 105th Regiment, Royal Artillery (also known as 'The Scottish & Ulster Gunners')

105th Regiment, Royal Artillery was formed in 1986 as an Air Defence Regiment, with its HQ in Edinburgh and its batteries (207 (City of Glasgow) Air Defence Battery, 212 (Highland) Air Defence Battery, and 218 (Lothian) Air Defence Battery) in Glasgow, Arbroath, and Livingstone. A year later a further battery (219 (City of Dundee) Air Defence Battery) was added.

In 1993 206 (Ulster) Battery was transferred to the regiment from 102nd (Ulster) Air Defence Regiment, and 219 (City of Dundee) Air Defence Battery was disbanded. The regiment was then renamed 105 Regiment, Royal Artillery (Volunteers).

Twelve years later the regiment's role was changed, and it became a field artillery regiment, armed with L118 105mm Light Guns. At the same time 218 (Lothian) Air Defence Battery was disbanded.

Currently the regiment comprises:
  • Regimental Headquarters (Edinburgh)
  • 206 (Ulster) Battery
    • Battery Headquarters and A Troop (Newtownards)
    • B Troop (Coleraine)
  • 207 (City of Glasgow) Battery
    • Battery Headquarters and C Troop (Partick, Glasgow)
    • D Troop (Colinton, Edinburgh)
  • 212 (Highland) Battery
    • Battery headquarters and E Troop (Arbroath)
    • F Troop (Kirkcaldy)
    • G Troop (Lerwick)
206 (Ulster) Battery and 207 (City of Glasgow) Battery are responsible for firing all Royal Salutes in Ulster (at Hillsborough Castle) and Scotland (at Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle) respectively. An NCO from 207 (City of Glasgow) Battery is also responsible for firing the famous daily 'One O'Clock Gun' at Edinburgh Castle.

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