Fort Rodd Hill

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Upper Battery Guardhouse

Fort Rodd Hill

After passing through the grey concrete walls and massive steel gates of Upper Battery, visitors arrive at the Guardhouse. Built in 1895, the interior has been restored to what a typical British guardhouse of the time might have looked like. Interior exhibits show lifestyles, period uniform and weapons. An audio station sets the tone and evokes memories of the British Empire at its height.


Upper Battery's Gun

Fort Rodd Hill

The "Disappearing Gun" system was developed in the late 1800's as the last word in coastal defense against enemy ships. Briefly the gun was protected behind a concrete emplacement sunk into the ground When a target had been spotted and all the necessary calculations made, the gun barrel would rise up, fire, and immediately sink back down to safety. It would have been almost impossible for a ship to drop a shell at a high enough angle to hit the gun position.

The 6-inch caliber gun here in Upper Battery was one of three in total at Fort Rodd Hill. It could fire a 100 lb. shell almost 7 miles. The gun barrel on display is the original one to this position, first test fired in October of l 897. The barrel alone weighs 5 tons. It was a very accurate weapons system, but the "Disappearing" feature meant that the rate of fire was slowed. A well-trained gun team of 12 men might manage to fire one shot every two minutes.


Lower Battery

Fort Rodd Hill

Visitors next proceed to Lower Battery, passing through stands of Garry oak and Arbutus tees, within flowering meadows. If you're lucky you may see some of our native black tail deer. Important historic buildings along the way are the World War Two hut, the very British-looking red brick Warrant Officers Quarters, and the Canteen, where if you listen carefully you may hear music of a bygone era, and the voices of some of the men who were here back in the 1920's and 30's telling you about what it was like back then.

Lower Battery is the largest battery in the fort, containing two 6-inch gun positions, an underground magazine, a guardhouse store buildings and the large Casemate Barracks area.

Lower Battery represents the 1920-39 period of the fort's history. Uniforms and weapons of the time are displayed in the bedroom of the guardhouse. You can enter the underground magazine and hear what it was like to work with high explosive - told by the men who did it!

Up on the ramparts of Lower Battery, a breathtaking view may be had of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Olympic Mountains, Fisgard Lighthouse, and the Royal Canadian Naval base at Esquimalt. This is definitely a photo-opportunity! Down through the covered passage, past the loop holed wall, is the fort's main accommodation area, the Casemate Barracks. .


Casemate Barracks

Fort Rodd Hill

Here was the soldier's home—his cot, barrack box for personal effects, a place to hang his equipment, his open-air mess tent (in the summer), the kitchen where the food was cooked, a place to wash and shave (the Ablution room) as well as the fort's main food supply. Other necessary areas, including the latrines, the coal and oil stores and the fort's larder were nearby.

The three large barracks rooms held up to 18 men each. A new display is open in room number 1, which has been restored to the way it looked in the 1930s. You can also listen to the audio program, where you will hear music of a bygone era, and the voices of some of the men who were here in the 1920s and '30s, telling you what it was like back then.


Belmont Battery

Fort Rodd Hill

Although built in 1898-1900, Belmont Battery has been restored to its appearance during the Second World War 1939-45. While Upper and Lower Batteries' big 6-inch guns were ready to deal with destroyers and cruisers, Belmont was built as a "close defense" battery with small, quick-firing guns designed to stop speedy torpedo boats from entering Esquimalt Harbour.

Belmont now has examples of both the original 1900 weaponry and the Second World War armament In 1900, two 12-pounder quick firing guns were mounted. While small, these weapons could fire up to fifteen rounds a minute.

By the time of the Second World War, these guns were considered obsolete, and in 1944, a new "Duplex", or twin, gun system was installed. This twin-barreled gun fired shells weighing 6 pounds, in a steam of up to 72 shots a minute-all hand-loaded! This example at Belmont Battery may be the very last one in existence, as the majority of the British-built guns were scrapped in in 1950's and 60's.

An excellent video in the crew shelter shows the development of these small quick-firing guns, and traces the changes to Belmont Battery. Of special interest is the wartime footage of the twin-6 pounds gun in action, taken from the original training film!


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