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Fort Largs - Under Threat

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by Dave Walsh (subscribe)
I enjoy writing about Adelaide and its many attractions. If you think Adelaide is boring, the problem is not with Adelaide. Please click the link to Like my articles, and subscribe to see more. adelaideunearthed.blogspot.com.au
Published April 2nd 2014
Say NO to the government
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Entrance to the Fort Largs Parade Ground


Just over a year ago I wrote an article about Fort Largs, one of only two coastal forts in South Australia. Located on the sea front at Taperoo, Fort Largs and the nearby Fort Glanville were built in the 1880's to protect South Australia's coast from the threat of attack by the Russians.

Fort Largs remained in the hands of the Australian Army until 1961, when it was handed over to the South Australian Police. SAPOL used the Fort Largs barracks building, some World War 2 buildings, and the land nearby to construct the Fort Largs Police Academy which operated until 2012. By then a new police academy had been built some distance east at a cost of $53 million.

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A Soldier Feeds Fort Largs' Kangaroo Mascot During World War 2 (Australian War Memorial)


In my article about Fort Largs I wondered whether the fort would become at risk when the surrounding land was handed over to Renewal SA so that that the government could recoup the cost of building the new Fort Largs Police Academy.

It seems that my concern was not unfounded - a recent newspaper article announced that both Fort Largs and the surrounding land for sale would be sold as a whole to a developer. While Fort Largs is currently on the State Heritage Register, that is no real protection.

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Six Inch Artillery Guns and Observation Post at Fort Largs


A previous Heritage Minister de-listed at least three iconic buildings from the State Heritage Register to enable them to be demolished - the University of Adelaide's Union Hall, the former Jade Monkey or City Steam Biscuit Factory, and the former Glenside nurses' home at Eastwood Lodge. All three of the buildings had been listed on the State Heritage Register after a thorough examination of their merits, but were removed by then Minister Paul Caica "in the public interest".

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Firing the Artillery Guns in 1935 (Courtesy State Library SA)


It is quite obvious that a housing developer is only concerned in having land for sale, and would have no interest in protecting or preserving Fort Largs. Despite its 130 year long history and strong connections with the Australian Army and the South Australian Police, there is an enormous risk that the fort would be either accidentally destroyed (like State Heritage Listed buildings at Islington Railway Yards), or de-listed so that it could be put up as land for sale.

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Members of the Australian Womens Army Service Relax in the Mess at Fort Largs (Australian War Memorial, 1944)


The land that Fort Largs occupies is not large, and demolishing the fort would only allow a couple more houses to be constructed. The surrounding land will probably generate at least $40 million, enough to substantially recoup the government's investment in the new Fort Largs Police Academy.

As local industry is increasingly being lost overseas, tourism plays a far more important role for South Australia. Places like Hahndorf and Port Adelaide attract many overseas tourists precisely because of their history, quaint architecture and the fact that it does distinguish us from more modern cities. Other coastal forts interstate such as in Victoria and New South Wales are proving to be tourist attractions.

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There Are Coastal Forts in San Francisco's Golden Gate National Park


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Interpretive Signage at Coastal Forts Near San Francisco


The city of San Francisco proudly displays its coastal forts, and has built trails with interpretive plaques to guide tourists around the forts in the Golden Gate National Park.

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Military Staff at Fort Largs in 1914 at the Start of World War 1 (Courtesy State Library of SA)


Coastal forts such as Fort Largs and Fort Glanville are significant links to our rich history, and demolishing Fort Largs would be a criminally stupid move for a pathetically small short term profit.

It is particularly ironic that placing Fort Largs and its land for sale on the market takes place as we celebrate the centenary of World War 1.

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Fort Largs Observation Post and Gun Emplacement


Groups including the National Trust of SA and the Port of Adelaide National Trust have already denounced the idea, and the Say NO to Selling Fort Largs group on Facebook is now growing rapidly.

You can watch a video of Fort Largs on Youtube or see it at the end of this article.

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A Canon and Enemy Mine Outside World War 2 Mess, Just East of Fort Largs


If you are concerned about the threat of this irreversible loss to South Australia's built heritage, contact your State MP as there is no longer a minister responsible for heritage in South Australia, a clear indication of this government's priorities.

Please also consider liking the Say NO to selling Fort Largs Facebook group, so that you can receive updates about the threat to Fort Largs.




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Why? Do we honour our past?
Where: Taperoo, SA
Cost: Free
Your Comment
So how do we protest this . Why can't they put a military museum on the site . I am sure it would be a tourist attraction . I recently visited the upgraded military museum in Darwin . This site would be perfect for the same thing .
by sylvi (score: 2|295) 1965 days ago
Why not Demolish Pafliment House or Government house.They been around for years.Govenor doesnt need ALL that vacant land
by itsa6 (score: 1|16) 1966 days ago
It could be turned into a public park along the lines of Paddington Reservoir.http://www.tzg.com.au/projects/paddington-reservoir If Renewal SA redeveloped the historic portion of the land as they have been doing with the public land at Bowden and sold the remaining land to developers they would get a higher price for the land because of it's greater amenity and the risk developers associate with heritage buildings would be removed..
by ajame (score: 1|12) 1939 days ago
We need to keep some of our heritage! And we the people should help to decide what stays and goes . NOT government alone! There should be more discussion - The media wha wha's about other political things/scandal so put in print what concerns us all.
by Mandy
by jmwin (score: 1|10) 1928 days ago
I've just returned from Townsville, the 1889 Kissing Point Fort / Jezzine Barracks is a massive investment and wonderful tourist resource up there. It is a perfect example of modern access, what will be beautiful planted gardens when they grow, and information all based around the kissing point fort. They have integrated a coastal boardwalk as well, which compliments it perfectly, as well as becoming a remembrance point .. There is no shame in emulating something done well .. with our own SA twist of course !
by allan (score: 1|21) 1929 days ago
As a business owner I can see the site as a great development towards a hotel, resturants even a theme/water park. But at my age I can also respect our fighting Australians that put their lives on the line for the future generations.
Lets see if the community, business owners and the local government can come to a joint agreement to create something wonderful for everyone.
by diann (score: 1|23) 1938 days ago
Demolishing the fort is a senseless act but entirely consistent with the relentless push for development, growth and profit at whatever cost. Heritage has value, albeit sometimes not in dollar terms. I clearly understand that not everything can be 'saved' but when much from the historic peninsular and the Port area has been stripped away, why the fort? So a privileged few can see the sea? Leave the fort, do some quality and sensitive restoration work and turn it into a place people will want to visit, experience, spend time and spend some money at/on!
by jklyd (score: 1|14) 1964 days ago
The best way to save State Heritage is to self of the STUPID LABOR PARTY. But who would be stupid enough to buy it.They have been selling off for years. Once an Icon is gone it's gone forever. Pity they aren't.

Roger Turner, 79 Years old.
by roger (score: 1|90) 1965 days ago
why are we so afraid or uninterested in our history here that we knock it down to build high density boxes that are boring and unattractive,let us be proud of our heritage and celebrate it
by ginaw (score: 0|8) 1948 days ago
Surely not?
by glenop (score: 2|823) 1816 days ago
yaaawn...chauvenistic-national paranoia of long ago being glorified with a far too long 7+ min. video with heavy pathetic music showing the same few buildings over and over again. these forts pointing at nothing, at an enemy that never existed except bloated up in the minds of self important military incompetents who had to justify their existence somehow. i am all for preserving lands that played a true role in anything, but these memorials to hubris? jeezus, i wish some australians would grow up one day and not stand with bated breath before anything military like overawed children.
by eixie (score: 1|23) 1929 days ago
Surely part of Fort Largs is an icon and should be respected.
It is only a few years since they spent millions on new modern buildings there. So they have changed the minds about use of the site. It is in better condition than many houses built in the last 10 years.
by r.eng (score: 2|396) 1092 days ago
I think you would find that the Greens Party and some Adelaide City Council would want surplus Govt. House land as part of the parklands.
by r.eng (score: 2|396) 1092 days ago
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