THE MOTHER SHIP HAS LANDED | Sharon Henry
It looks like a spaceship has landed on top of High Knoll Fort. The island’s most visible landmark has a new feature of LED up-lights surrounding its base, glowing a rainbow of colours onto the thick, stone walls.
Governor Lisa Philips had the honour of switching them on, by first rallying onlookers into a five second countdown before pressing the button which instantly set off a small fireworks display to mark the occasion. The group of invited guests who had been ferried up to the High Knoll car park gave an appraising cheer as they looked up at the illuminated walls and exploding fireworks.
New Ground Point is a great vantage point where numbers had congregated to witness the inaugural sight. People across the island can see this spectacle from as far afield as Longwood in one direction and Horse Pasture in the other. The lights will now be on every night from 7pm until midnight.
Originally built in 1790 by the English East India Company, the fortress of High Knoll is steeped in history and has many a story to tell. Much of it dark, as it was once the gallows for hanging mutineers and punishing slaves. Today it is a tourist attraction offering a 360 degree view of the island; it also houses communication antennae that include radio, TV and mobile.
The up-lighting project was funded by Enterprise St Helena and board member, Giselle Richards said, “History tells us that the fort was built to protect the island from outside threats. Now it is our turn to protect High Knoll Fort, as part of our built heritage.”
After Jacob’s Ladder in Jamestown, the Fort has become the second major island landmark with lights bringing it to life at night.
Merrill Joshua, the project manager said, “In May 2000 Governor Hollamby officially introduced the lighting up of Jacob’s Ladder, providing a proud spectacle that we are all now accustomed to. Building on the past and setting a precedent for the future we illuminate yet another significant heritage-rich landmark.”
Reflecting that modern age, Darrin (who was strategically situated across the valley in Sapper Way) spotted a remote-controlled drone floating across the sky, watching the event from above. It must have gotten some fantastic birds-eye footage.
In total 22, 30watt wall washer lights have been installed. Up close the bulbs are tiny and it’s hard to imagine them being powerful enough for lighting large sections of wall. They are ‘dark skies’ compliant which gives minimal light pollution, ideal for astronomers. They also have the ability to change colours and on occasion will be used to visually support causes such as pink for Cancer Awareness.
The newly lit Fort is a welcome feature and already blends in well with the island’s nightscape.