Fort Largs - Under Threat

Fort Largs - Under Threat


Posted 2014-04-03 by Dave Walshfollow

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.

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.

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".

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.

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.

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.

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.

Groups including the #8206 ;">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.

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.

123952 - 2023-06-13 01:18:07


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