© 2019 St. Vincent and the Grenadines National Trust
The St. Vincent & the Grenadines National Trust

Fort Duvernette

Built in the 1790s, Fort Duvernette, also known as Rock Fort, towers over Calliaqua Bay and Indian Bay. Its guns sit on a 58 metre (~190 feet) volcanic plug that sticks out of the sea on the windward side of St Vincent. The fort was built to protect the colonial hub of Calliaqua, where sugar was loaded onto ships bound for English ports. The British had good reason for building a fort here. It was at Calliaqua Bay that the French launched their invasion of St Vincent in 1783. Their ships were English-built and not flying French colours; many plantation owners assumed they were merchant ships and refused any suggestion of attacking them. They regretted this soon after, when the French landed and took control of the island. The island is a tall outcrop, formerly known as Young’s Sugar Loaf. There is a staircase that snakes up the rocky outcrop to two gun decks, with original cannon from the reigns of George II and George III. There are also the remains of buildings, probably used for storage, and accommodation for the garrison. The site has a rich natural heritage, with lush flora clinging to Fort Duvernette. The Royal Marines who might have once been seen guarding the fort wore red coats that earned them the nickname “lobsters”. Today, the lobsters have been replaced by beautiful sea birds such as Ramie pigeons, blue herons and sea hawks. The water surrounding the fort is home to white sea orchids and sea grass. The site is also home to the occasional small lizard and bat for you to look out for. All of this gives Fort Duvernette a magical quality .
The views from the top battery are superb: the Windward Coast of St Vincent stretches out before you and the Grenadine Islands of Bequia and Mustique are also visible from the fort’s gun decks. Just 50 yards away from Fort Duvernette lies Young Island, the luxury hotel where Johnny Depp stayed when filming Pirates of the Caribbean on St Vincent. On the seafront at Villa is a popular white sand beach and a promenade lined with bars, restaurants and hotels. There are many mysteries surrounding Fort Duvernette that you can try to answer while exploring the site. Why does it have a French name but British cannon? Who built the stairs up to the top of the fort? And how did they get the cannon all the way to the top? One clue to this last question is in an account written by magistrate John Anderson about 30 years after the fort was built: “When first fortified, the artificers were obliged to sway the cannon by means of rope from the opposite shore. In warping up the first gun, it stuck fast, and remained poised in midair, whilst the possibility of being moved (sic). At this critical juncture, a jack who happened to be a spectator offered, for a glass of grog, to remove the impediment. The mixture was speedily forthcoming; the handy tar swarmed up the rope and unwormed its entire length, cooly whistling as he descended in his perilous task — which was safely accomplished.” Please do not play loud music or leave litter at the site as it will harm the wildlife. It is not recommended that anyone swim in the water surrounding the fort as it has strong currents. Bathing at Villa beach is easy to do after a visit to the fort. Don’t miss: • The heavy iron rings, possibly used for pulling up the cannon • The splendid views from the top deck • The remains of the fort’s supply buildings
Built in the 1790s, Fort Duvernette, also known as Rock Fort, towers over Calliaqua Bay and Indian Bay. Its guns sit on a 58 metre (~190 feet) volcanic plug that sticks out of the sea on the windward side of St Vincent. The fort was built to protect the colonial hub of Calliaqua, where sugar was loaded onto ships bound for English ports. The British had good reason for building a fort here. It was at Calliaqua Bay that the French launched their invasion of St Vincent in 1783. Their ships were English-built and not flying French colours; many plantation owners assumed they were merchant ships and refused any suggestion of attacking them. They regretted this soon after, when the French landed and took control of the island. The island is a tall outcrop, formerly known as Young’s Sugar Loaf. There is a staircase that snakes up the rocky outcrop to two gun decks, with original cannon from the reigns of George II and George III. There are also the remains of buildings, probably used for storage, and accommodation for the garrison. The site has a rich natural heritage, with lush flora clinging to Fort Duvernette. The Royal Marines who might have once been seen guarding the fort wore red coats that earned them the nickname “lobsters”. Today, the lobsters have been replaced by beautiful sea birds such as Ramie pigeons, blue herons and sea hawks. The water surrounding the fort is home to white sea orchids and sea grass. The site is also home to the occasional small lizard and bat for you to look out for. All of this gives Fort Duvernette a magical quality . The views from the top battery are superb: the Windward Coast of St Vincent stretches out before you and the Grenadine Islands of Bequia and Mustique are also visible from the fort’s gun decks. Just 50 yards away from Fort Duvernette lies Young Island, the luxury hotel where Johnny Depp stayed when filming Pirates of the Caribbean on St Vincent. On the seafront at Villa is a popular white sand beach and a promenade lined with bars, restaurants and hotels. There are many mysteries surrounding Fort Duvernette that you can try to answer while exploring the site. Why does it have a French name but British cannon? Who built the stairs up to the top of the fort? And how did they get the cannon all the way to the top? One clue to this last question is in an account written by magistrate John Anderson about 30 years after the fort was built: “When first fortified, the artificers were obliged to sway the cannon by means of rope from the opposite shore. In warping up the first gun, it stuck fast, and remained poised in midair, whilst the possibility of being moved (sic). At this critical juncture, a jack who happened to be a spectator offered, for a glass of grog, to remove the impediment. The mixture was speedily forthcoming; the handy tar swarmed up the rope and unwormed its entire length, cooly whistling as he descended in his perilous task — which was safely accomplished.” Please do not play loud music or leave litter at the site as it will harm the wildlife. It is not recommended that anyone swim in the water surrounding the fort as it has strong currents. Bathing at Villa beach is easy to do after a visit to the fort. Don’t miss: • The heavy iron rings, possibly used for pulling up the cannon • The splendid views from the top deck • The remains of the fort’s supply buildings
© 2019 St. Vincent & the Grenadines National Trust
The St. Vincent & the Grenadines National Trust

Fort Duvernette