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SierraLeoneHeritage.org | National Monuments | Firing point and guns near Old Wharf

Firing point and guns near Old Wharf, Dublin, Banana Island

Date of Proclamation

1956

Alternative Names

Site Type

COASTAL BATTERY, GUN EMPLACEMENT, GRAVESTONES

Chiefdom

District

Province

WESTERN AREA

Notes

Excerpt from D. Cummings, The National Monuments of Sierra Leone: A Brief Guide, Sierra Leone: Monuments and Relics Commission, n.d. (p.6):

Because many pirates were operating in international waters in the 18th Century, Merchants petitioned the British Government to help them stamp out piracy. Before the slave trade was abolished in 1807 and before the West African Squadron was instituted, a Squadron of the British Royal Navy was sent to the West African coast to do away with piracy. Freetown did not exist at that time and therefore the ships were based at the Banana Island – hence the presence of the guns and the firing point.

There are two tombstones in the cemetery at Dublin [that have also been proclaimed as National Monuments]. The first one is that of Captain Reid, R.N. and is dated 1712. This is the earliest tombstone found in Sierra Leone, older than any found on Bunce Island. The other is that of Lieutenant J.W. Roberts, R.N., dated 1847.

Excerpt from W.W. Shreeve, Sierra Leone: The Principal British Colony on the Western Coast of Africa. London: Simmonds & Co., 1847. (p.20):

The Island of Bananas is generally the resort of invalids, who shortly become invigorated by the sea air. It contains a large Government house, the residence of the manager. This island is about four or five miles long, half a mile broad, and in some places mountainous. It yields abundance of fowls, eggs, yams, &c., and was formerly the property of the Clevelands and Caulkers, native chiefs; and when the slave trade was legal, the resort of vessels from Liverpool and other places was considerable. It came into the possession of an English merchant in payment of a debt due by the Caulkers, and was rented by him to the Government as a residence for liberated Africans; but the manager having been withdrawn, it would appear to be of little consideration at present.

In the burying-ground there is a gravestone upwards of a hundred years old, bearing date 1742, upon which the inscription to some young man from Liverpool, whose name I forget, is as legible as if cut but yesterday.

Inspection 2009

In addition to the ‘firing point’, complete with three cannon (one of which is dated 1813), there is an extensive defensive wall surmounted with cannons, together with the stone footings of a building and possible well. This is possible the remains of the ‘Government house’ mentioned by Shreeve.

Associated Records

Prints and drawings

‘A View of the East end of the Island of Bananas’, the fifth plate of A Voyage to the River Sierra Leone by John Matthews. Matthews notes that ‘In the dry season ships anchor on the south side of the island, where the vessels’ masts appear over the land, but in the rainy season they anchor on the north side, as shewn in the view’.