Posted on June 3, 2024 / 2
Listing Type : Naval Port or Anchorage
Location : Sierra Leone

Bathurst (Banjul)was the main port of Gambia.  The Portuguese traded in Gambia from 1455 and the area was on the of the locations used in connection with the slave trade.  The British assumed control of Gambia in 1821 as a protectorate and it was placed un the control of the British Governor in General in Sierra Leone in 1881.  Gambia had been under quasi British control since 1765 and in 1891 the British and French reached agreement on the boundaries of Gambia and it became a Crown Colony.

Bathurst was the Capital and main port, but the facilities were limited.  The site was never intended to be a Harbour of Refuge or Coaling Station, and the coastal defences were therefore limited.  The principle British defences in Gambia were:

Fort James (Fort Gambia) located on an Island some 30 Kilometres from Bathurst as the crow flied.  This was originally a defended island used in connection with commerce, including slaves.  Does not appear to have been upgraded with new defences after 1815, replaced by Fort Bullen.

In Bathurst we had

  • Six Gun Battery, the main coastal defence battery in Bathurst
  • A Garrison built close to Six Gun Battery
  • Three Gun Battery, supporting the Six Gun Battery

Opposite Bathurst was Fort Bullen, built on Barra Point.  Indications are that Fort Bullen was built between 1726 and 1834, the main defences being built just after 1807 as a means of interdicting any slave traders trying to travel up the River Gambia.  Fort Bullen was used on and off until the end of the World War 2.  Its’ armament included 4-inch guns and a 12-pdr Q.F. gun.  Bathurst became an import port of call for Allied Convoys travelling to and from India during the War.




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