In October 1777, Lord George Macartney, British Governor General of Grenada and Tobago, authorized the erection of two barracks and a double kitchen to house two companies of soldiers on “Scarborough Hill”. The work was near completion in 1779, but in June 1781, Tobago fell to the French. By 1784 the French began working on the fort again. The fort was named “Fort Castries”, but in 1789 it was renamed “Fort Republique” and “Fort Liberte” in 1790 when the garrison revolted. The British recaptured the fort in 1793. Tobago was returned to France in 1801 but by 1803 was again a British Colony. The fort was then referred to as “Fort King George” after King George III. On the 11th October 1847 a hurricane damaged and destroyed most of the buildings. A garrison was maintained until 1854. Today the fort is being restored.
A visit to the fort is well worth it and you can easily spend several hours on this hilltop overlooking Scarborough. As you walk along the entrance path you will see the Powder Magazine, built during the French occupation. This building is fully intact and is interesting how the back to back rooms mirror each other. As you walk up the hill you will be able to see the other wall with cannons on top of it. I loved this spot because there were beautiful flowers growing along the wall, there was no one there, and the view was unbelievable.
Inside the wall in what use to be the Officer’s Mess is a very nice museum about Tobago history from prehistoric times up to the present. This is the one place you have to pay to enter, but is only $1. As you start walking down the hill you will find the Artillery Men’s Barracks and a very interesting cistern called the Bell Tank. At the bottom of the fort is the Punishment Cells, built in 1848. In this prison you will find a building with five cells surrounded by a courtyard enclosed within a wall.
I loved visiting Fort King George and highly recommend everyone to see it if they are on the island of Tobago. My favorite part was the views of the cannon wall, the history in the museum, and the solitude of the prison.