Fort Tanjong Katong Photo Gallery
Maps and Plans of the Fort
1885 proposed upgrade to the fort,
along with some of the first planned excavation pits (outlined in
green). Pits not shown: "Mongolia," "Siberia,"
Map showing complete artillery coverage
for the cannon guns in Singapore in 1885.
Schematics of the 7 inch barrel
gun used in the battery (1879) before the site was upgraded into
a fort in 1885.
We have made available some of
the methods of documenting our excavation work below:
The site log book (PDF), updated
to the 20th November, 2004, chronicles day to day excavations by
The Excavation Sheet (front page),
focuses on the specifics of an excavation unit. This particular
sheet is regarding FTK 18 (one of the units located in the bastion
pit), and describes the layer, the type of artifacts found, and
those who worked on the unit.
The back of the same excavation
sheet allows for sketches and noting the positioning of artifacts
and structures, as well as noting the inclusion of pictures and
other relevant information.
A 3D wireframe of the bastion that
took about 3 days to complete. The water dumpy is used to take depth
measurements of structures in reference to the site datum (10 cm
above the ground). This information is then relayed as 3D coordinates
and plotted in VectorWorks to form the bastion's wireframe.
A map showing the Fort Tanjong excavations
at Katong Park. (updated 19th July, 2005)
History of Fort
Construction on the Tanjong Katong battery started
in 1879. As part of a series of defensive batteries and fortifications
along the south coast of Singapore, it defended the eastern approaches
to Singapore Harbor, Singapore Town and New (Keppel) Harbor. The
defensive works at Tanjong Katong initially consisted of an elevated
battery of three 7-inch muzzle-loading guns along with magazines
and bombproof shelters built between the gun emplacements. The battery
was surrounded by an escarpment of mangrove piles and a wet ditch
measuring 100ft on the flanks.
In 1885 work began on upgrading the existing gun
batteries in Singapore, and the three-gun battery at Tanjong Katong
was replaced with a pair of more powerful and longer range breech
loading 8 inch guns. Modifications and additional fortifications
were made to strengthen the position and the Tanjong Katong battery
was elevated to the status of a Fort.
Advances in military technology and lack of a military
garrison to man the fort, along with the remoteness of the site
which hindered supply and reinforcement, reduced the effectiveness
of Fort Katong as a defense position. Barely 5 years after upgrading
work was completed in 1888, it was suggested that Fort Tanjong Katong
be demolished. The guns of Fort Tanjong Katong were never fired
in anger. It was sporadically employed as a training camp for members
of the Singapore Volunteer Artillery. Debate over the fort lingered
on between the Colonial Defense Committee in London and the Local
Defense Committee Singapore for about a decade. The fort was finally
rendered obsolete and abandoned in 1901 when the guns were removed.
The fort was demolished sometime after World War I (1918). Eventually
the site became a public park.
Raising History, Planting Roots
(A project by the Mountbatten CCC)
Present knowledge of the fort is based on a small
set of historical records and eyewitness accounts. The fort’s
impact on the local communities and the lives of the few soldiers
who were garrisoned in isolation at this relatively inaccessible
defensive position in the 19th century have not been studied. Archaeological
survey and excavations will contribute to the understanding of local
ways of life during the 19th century, the military significance
of the site, and defensive concerns of the colonial government of
that period. By studying the fort’s design, we will be able
to compare it to other forts built in the British Empire during
the same period. We may discover local modifications unique to this
Archaeological research can also add another dimension
to the richness of the local heritage in the Katong district. The
involvement of the community in this project through grassroots
organizations, residents, and educational institutions of the Katong
District will enable the public and students not only to contribute
to the understanding of Singapore colonial history but also to foster
the community’s sense of belonging and ownership of local
The archaeological excavation at the Fort Tanjong
Katong site provides a unique opportunity for residents of the Katong
district and beyond to participate actively in uncovering the remains
of the old fort. Large numbers of volunteers ranging from school
students to housewives, retirees, working professionals on their
off-days have labored tirelessly through the mud, beating rain and
scorching sun in assisting the archaeologists on site and discovering
first hand a part of Singapore’s heritage 125 years in the
The Raffles Museum of Biodiversity at the National University of Singapore assisted with the analysis marine ecofacts and corals that uncovered at the site, and some 36 bags of samples have been deposited with the museum (article).
Read the Preliminary Site Report (v1.2, PDF, 2.27mb, 7th May, 2006) outlines the research process, preliminary findings, variety
of volunteers, and a list of the archaeology research team involved.
Updates - 7th May, 2006
The project at Tanjong Katong has ended. Presently the Preservation of Monuments Board and Urban Redevelopment Authority are assessing the Fort Tanjong Katong's contention for National Monument status.
For more details regarding this project please
contact the Mountbatten Citizen's Consultative Committee at (+65)63447387