Guernsey History – January

Check out this picture of Fort George under construction

Fort George being built

I’ve been working my way through an enormous box of old family slides and photos, many of which are of Guernsey, Jersey and Sark from the early 1970s. Reassuringly little has changed in many of them, but this picture of Fort George from the air is particularly striking, as much of the development has yet to be built.

It was apparently taken on approach to or departure from Guernsey Airport, in the direction of Herm, as it also includes a clear view of Castle Cornet, Castle Breakwater and St Peter Port. You can just about make out where Soldiers’ Bay is on the far right of the shot but, because of the angle, you can’t see into it. Clarence Battery is also difficult to make out clearly.

The actual fort that once stood on the site was built in the late 1700s and early 1800s and served as a barracks for more than 100 years. It was the site of a mutiny, which occurred when new soldiers were introduced to the already quite crowded barracks. The soldiers insisted that the officers who ruled over them leave the gates of the fort open so they could come and go as they chose. The officers agreed, but this wasn’t enough to prevent the uprising.

The soldiers used their arms against the officers who were forced to retreat. They fled the fort, leaving it in the hands of the mutinous soldiers, and came back later with reinforcements, with whom they re-took the fort.

The fort was still standing during the occupation of Guernsey throughout the Second World War, and was bombed by Allied planes. It was so badly damaged in the action that it was demolished after the end of the war, leaving space for developers to move in and plan an estate of expensive housing. The site was sold by the States of Guernsey in 1967.

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The Sarnian series is written by Nik Rawlinson, who was born in Guernsey and, although he doesn't currently live there, returns regularly. He is a journalist, author and broadcaster working for a wide range of lifestyle titles in the UK and beyond. Find out more at

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The name The Sarnian has two distinct meanings. It's up to the reader to decide which they prefer:

  1. It's the name of the newspaper for which Ollie works
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