Fort Cornwallis, Penang
The fort, built on the spot where Francis Light first stepped ashore in Penang (1786), still exists, complete with its guns. Originally made of wood, but in 1804-1805 it was replaced by a stone building that was built by convicts. The courtyard of the fort is now a park where concerts and other performances are given. Near the souvenir shops, the model of a traditional Malay house. You need your shoes if you want inside.
The oldest fort on the island, originally built out of bamboo but was converted to a more solid structure, was the key place in the establishment of Penang as a trading post. Have a read of the historic display to get the full version of events that led to the establishment of the island settlement of Penang.
The Chapel was built in 1799 on the southwest bastion. It is the earliest roofed structure surviving in Penang from the colonial era. The first recorded marriage here took place that same year when John Timmers married Martina Rozells, the widow of Francis Light.
Housed in several bunker-type buildings are a vast amount of information including the history of the fort, archaeological finds, conservation and preservation of the site along with detailed information surrounding Francis Light and the British East India Company.
Some old cannons face over the sea, the largest of which is known as Seri Rambai Cannon, was cast in 1603, and was a gift from the Dutch to the Sultan of Johore in 1606. In 1613, the Portuguese took possession of the cannon and it was taken to Java, where it stayed until 1795, when it was given to Aceh and brought to Kuala Selangor. The British seized the cannon back and replaced it in the fort in 1871. Locals bestowed mythical powers upon the cannon and it is said that it can grant fertility.
This bronze statue of Captain Francis Light, founder of Penang, who first landed here on August 11, 1786, greets you at the entrance to Fort Cornwallis. Cast in 1936, it was unveiled in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of his arrival in Penang. The statue was sculptured on the features of his eldest son as no pictures of the man himself were ever found. You might notice that he once had a sword but this has since gone missing, believed to have been melted down by the Japanese during their occupation in order to make a real one.
Originally built of palm trunks on the site where Captain Francis Light, founder of Penang, first landed on August 11, 1786, Fort Cornwallis was upgraded into the brick structure you see today in 1804. Once home to a barracks, gun powder magazine, chapel, harbour light, flagstaff, armoury, cell rooms, stores and many other administration buildings, in its day the Fort was a veritable one-stop-stop for all things colonial. Today, with just the chapel, gun powder magazine, lighthouse and a few low buildings remaining, it's difficult to imagine how they fitted it all in.
The fort was named after the late 18th century Governor-General of Bengal, India, Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis and is the largest standing fort in Malaysia. It was intended as a defense against the pirates, Kedah, and the French because of the Napoleonic Wars. A moat 9 meters wide by 2 meters deep once surrounded the fort but it was filled in in the 1920s due to a malaria outbreak in the area.
The Chapel was built in 1799 on the southwest bastion. It is the earliest roofed structure surviving in Penang from the colonial era. The first recorded marriage here took place that same year when John Timmers married Martina Rozells, the widow of Francis Light. Other features include some old cannons facing over the sea, the largest of which is known as Seri Rambai Cannon, was cast in 1603, and was a gift from the Dutch to the Sultan of Johore in 1606.
In its entire history, the fort was never engaged in any battle. Apart from being used for the British Royal artillery troops, the fort was once occupied by the Sikh Police of the Straits Settlements during the 1920s.
Open: 9am-6pm closed Sundays. Admission: RM3.
The Fort Cornwallis Lighthouse was built in 1882 within the eastern grounds of Fort Cornwallis. It was originally known as Fort Point Lighthouse during British colonial days. According to the Blue Book 1938, the lighthouse was renovated in 1914 when it changed its name to the Penang Harbour Lighthouse and in 1928. The lighthouse is different from others as it has a 21-metre white steel framework tower. There's a small museum inside showing its former lenses and lights plus other equipment.
Fort Cornwallis is supposed to be the place where Francis Light first set foot in 1786.
It is one of the oldest sights in Penang.
Out of all facilities, only the four corner bastions and the ramparts are left. It is not one of the most amazing sights, but still interesting to visit and to take some lovely shots.
The Cornwallis Light House is very unique looking. It doesn't look like your typical light house with solid base. This light house is constructed with metal base that I thought it was a new communication tower from phone company!
This is the location where Captain Light first set foot on Penang. Frankly, I don't know what is inside the fort as I didn't have time to go in. But if the weather is not too hot, it's a good place to hang out at the park near by.
Entrance Fee: RM3 adult
We decided to go sightseeing on a Sunday. Only to discover Fort Cornwallis is shut on a Sunday. We also then thought that the National Museum would be shut on a Sunday as well, which it isn't. Oh well.
That will teach us to do some prior planning before we set out.
The fort was built on the site of Sir Francis Light's historic landing in 1786. Originally a wooden stockade. It is now a concrete structure and currently houses cannons, a history gallery, cafe, handicraft and souvenir centre as well as an open-air amphitheatre.
It is the oldest and most intact fort in Malaysia. It has actually been restored under the name of history preservation.
Detail history of this fort is available at this URL FORT CORNWALLIS
At a minimal fee of RM3 per pax, entering the fort is a worthy experience. Dont miss the chance to take a photo with the Fort's 'guard' and check out the old British canopy model .
Learn the history of Penang here. You may wish to arrive early at this tourist attraction before tour groups swarm in. Best times are around 10-11am. You will have a chance to take a photo wearing colonial hat and armed with a rifle standing with the statue of Sir Francis Light -- is free-of-charge as long as you opt not to wear the colonial dressing.
If you feel young, there is a two-people-swing under a big tree near the campfire site. Give it a try! There is also a pony ride available. Do take note when you are walking on the grassland as you may come across piles of by-product of the pony.... *ahem* :)
Here's something interesting: just above the main road, the first cannon you come across even before entrance, lies the mythical cannon that locals believe that by offering prayers and placing flowers at the mouth of the cannon, a woman would be able to conceive!
Fort Cornwallis Opening hours: 8:30am to 7:00pm daily