Photo: Plenty of interesting details.

Fort Cornwallis

Our rating:

In keeping with its history as a fort devoid of battles, a state of inertia seems to penetrate the very walls of peaceful Fort Cornwallis.





Its lawns are green; its wide ramparts undulate, dotted with benches, and planted with sweet smelling borders and the sea breeze gently cools the topical sultriness. If it weren’t for the gunpowder magazine, barracks and a rather fabulous lighthouse with all the rigging of a tall ship, not to mention the assemblage of cannons facing the all but non-exiting plunderers, the contemporary fort isn’t remarkably impressive.

Still waiting. Photo taken in or around Fort Cornwallis, Penang, Malaysia by Sally Arnold.

Still waiting. Photo: Sally Arnold

Even our guide couldn’t be bothered walking around and sat on a bench as she threw light on its past: stretching back to 17 July 1786, just three years before the French Revolution, when Captain Francis Light landed on the northeastern tip of Penang. A few weeks later the Union Flag was hoisted and a timber fort laid out, mirroring the same position and size as today’s incarnation with a star-like form and wide ramparts.

With the onset of war between Britain and France in 1793, Light hurried to rebuild the structure in brick but died the following year before its completion. A further escalation of danger from Napoleon and his cohorts drove Lieutenant Governor Farquhar to complete the work, with the addition of a moat and drawbridges.

Security breach! Photo taken in or around Fort Cornwallis, Penang, Malaysia by Sally Arnold.

Security breach! Photo: Sally Arnold

The French never did arrive but in 1941 the Japanese did, using the area for military workshops and storehouses. Despite occupation and the even greater threat of demolition in the 1920s, Captain Francis Light, his statue at least, is back on home turf, standing proudly, hand on hip, surveying visitors at the west entrance of ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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Fort Cornwallis
Lebuh Light, Georgetown
Mo–Su: 09:00–22:00
Admission: 20 ringgit for adults, 10 ringgit for kids. Half fare for local citizens.

Location map for Fort Cornwallis

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