Conserving Bayards Cove Fort

During the early autumn months English Heritage has been carrying out essential conservation work to Bayards Cove Fort in Dartmouth. Over the years weather and invasive weeds have taken their toll on the stones and mortar of the fort.

The work has been carried out thanks to a donation from the Hadley Trust. The donation has allowed for the site to be scaffolded throughout allowing the team of experts access to the upper walls to allow for easy removable for plants and restoration work.

The forts proximity to the river has exposes it to constant assault from the weather and sea, this has caused erosion and lamination of the sedimentary stones and the growth of vegetation at high levels which has loosened and broken up the stones and mortar. The removable of the vegetation and restoration work has ensured the fort is safe for visitors, protecting and safeguarding the site for future generations.

Bayards Cove Fort has been prominent feature of Dartmouth Harbour since the early 16th Century. It was built as a last line of defence if enemy ships evaded the larger fortifications of Dartmouth Castle and Kingswear Castle, which guarded the month of the river, and the heavy chain that spanned its width. Although never put to the test by attack from the sea, the forts eleven gun ports watched over the estuary as the town of Dartmouth developed around it.

The fort saw a brief revival of protecting the town when in the 1940s it was armed against the threat of German Invasion. It was then bequeathed to the Dartmouth Trust (formerly Dartmouth Charities Commission) and later in 1984 brought into the Guardianship of English Heritage.

The fort is an important landmark in the town both now and in years gone by, it is visited by thousands of visitors each year, who pass through the fort on a scenic walk between the town centre and Dartmouth Castle. It also served as a port for the Mayflower when it stopped at the town in August 1620. At the start of their journey from England to the New World America the Speedwell, travelling with the Mayflower, began to take on water and they diverted to Dartmouth and Bayards Cove for repairs.

Bayards Cove Fort is free to visit and is cared for by English Heritage. The work at Bayards Cove Fort forms part of an impressive programme of conservation work which will see the conservation charity spend around £1.9m on wall repairs and weed removal at its sites across the country this year alone.

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