1885 - 1895

1885 - 1895

 

1893 Audio

October - The two cannons and quick firing gun were mounted in (put together and attached to a support) and test fired by Colonel Spalding with Captain Savage and Mr Thorpe, an artificer (a skilled craftsmen or inventor). Captain McCabe was also present. Smith's Hill Fort was manned by a team of 9 Volunteer militia (Army Reserves).

Each gun was under command of a Sergeant. click to watch video The officers in charge of the fort worked in the DRF Post (Direct and Range Finding) on the northern side using an underground ladder. The gunners (soldiers) did not live at Smith's Hill Fort. Each day they walked up from the Old Court House near the harbour. They rested in the casemate area.

1892 Audio

March - Parliament approved the building of Smith's Hill Fort, at a cost of £2,000, to defend possible Russian attacks on Wollongong Harbour and coastal shipping.

August - Drawings were completed for a planned defence structure on Smith's Hill by Mr W. Hart of Sydney.

September - Work started on building Smith's Hill Fort. The fort included a concealed (hidden) battery (a group of guns) on high ground with underground rooms for supplies, ammunition (projectiles, such as bullets that are fired from a gun) and shelter with emplacements (prepared position for sitting a military weapon) for two 80 pounder RML cannons and the Nordenfelt gun. The engineer and architect was Colonel Percy Owen. He was the Public Works Engineer and in charge of the local artillery (large weapons, such as cannons).

1887 Audio

Colonal Bringham and Major Penrose communicated with the Colonial Secretary about the lack of defence structures in NSW. A report presented to the NSW parliament by Major General Schaw explained that the ports of Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong were major targets for attacks by enemy invaders and required defences. The Royal Navy and Legislative Assembly of NSW believed that enemy ships could demand replenishments (coal and food) in return for not bombing towns or invading Australia. It was decided that permanent defence structures needed to be built.

1885 Audio

A third gun known as a 1½ inch (approximately 38mm) Nordenfelt ‘spotting’ (quick firing) gun was built for Smith’s Hill Fort.

June - The NSW (New South Wales) Government took about 2½ acres (approximately 1 hectare) of land on the eastern end of Wollongong, reserved for the military. The land was chosen because it overlooked the ships coming towards Wollongong Harbour and it backed onto Cliff Road, helping communications.