But in his 2012 Annual Report to Parliament, the Police Commissioner reported that The Fort Largs Police Academy was decommissioned following the final graduation at the site on 14 December 2011. The new SAPOL Academy opened on 8 February 2012, and Fort Largs is no longer used for law enforcement purposes.
The story of Fort Largs can now be told.
Why was Fort Largs built
Fort Largs is Barely Visible From Lady Gowrie Drive
From the time of the Crimean War in the 1850's and at regular intervals thereafter a persistent concern among the citizens of South Australia was the fear of invasion by the Russians and, of necessity, the government was prodded and urged to make appropriate arrangements to meet the oncoming hordes from Asia.
Like the other nations of Europe Russia was on the lookout for new territory to explore in the 19th century, and it was not uncommon for her fleets to pass near Australian soil.
However in 1882 Glenelg awoke to a Russian squadron at anchor in Holdfast Bay, creating no little concern. After a flurry of panic, it was found that warning of the friendly visit had been sent from Melbourne, but a postal clerk had omitted to pass it on.
Manning the Nine Inch Guns in 1890 (B18968 Courtesy State Library of SA)
A number of vents are dotted around the sand hills near the guns, presumably providing ventilation for those in the tunnels. Without a torch I was unable to explore the northern tunnel fully, but it appears to have been blocked at the end some time in the past.
Architecturally Fort Largs is important because it represents the end of an era of coastal fortification philosophy - in terms of planning, design, and construction - spanning over three centuries. The integrity of Fort Largs is poor, because of the constant upgrading and other alterations relating to its continuous, active role as a military or para military complex. Nevertheless, most of the 19th century fabric remains, and all subsequent additions are well documented.
Old Lettering Just Visible Next to the National Trust Plaque
When seeking permission to explore the fort, I was advised by SAPOL that the land is no longer theirs. Renewal SA, also said that the land is not under their control. At that point I assumed the land had reverted to Crown land, and obtained the images for this article.
I was subsequently advised that the land is under the care of SAPOL, but my questions about getting access remain unanswered by SAPOL at this point.
Until then, be aware that trespassing here is not likely to be tolerated.
Now that the SA Police have finished with the old Police Academy, the land around Fort Largs will almost certainly pass to Renewal SA for disposal as housing allotments.
Despite the departure of former Heritage Minister Caica, I am not confident that Fort Largs will remain protected as the unique heritage asset that it is.
Like Donal I was a resident (1968) as a cadet and while I was taken up with the needs of disciplined life in the Fort as the Academy I was always intrigued with the Fort itself. I know I polished enough brass to get to know the old place. I also hope it is preserved, it is a very important part of South Australian history. Any government which seeks to destroy it is going to have a big pr problem on its hands.
Fort Largs, like Fort Glanville, must be preserved. Thanks to the volunteer group at Fort Glanville large amounts of money and thousands of hours of dedicated work have made it one of the best examples of Australia's late 19thC military heritage. Largs and Glanville were initially intended to work together for the defence of the port and the city. Both should continue to be PROPERLY conserved. Judging by the photos Largs is well on the way to become a relic.
It may not be viable to restore it to the same degree as Glanville, but at least give it the dignity of being a well preserved part of the WW2 defence of Australia; every bit as valuable and important as our WW1 memorials
Tony (Military Historical Society of Australia, South Australian Branch)
On the evening of September 23 1944 the then CO of the Fort was severley injured in an explsion resulting in his death at Daws Road Hospital in the morning of September 28. Lieutenant Thomas William Wheatley who had served in the middle - east left a widow and six children. Suffering back injuries from wounds in the overseas conflict he had little resistance to the September explosion. He had been RSM of the 2nd/7th field artillery regiment, at the time of his death he was attached to the Coastal Battery.