Fort Hayes was built in 1848 and is the larger and better preserved of the two Georgetown forts. It was largely rebuilt after 1881 and there were further changes during the two World Wars. When the Heritage Museum is open it is possible to enter the precincts which afford fine views over the capital and the harbour. Below it is a gallery, used as an exhibition space in conjunction with the Museum with many historical photographs of life on the island, furniture, plates, knives and forks, and machinery used in everyday life.On the other side of the Pier Head stands Fort Thornton (formerly Fort Cockburn), now a ruin, but originally built on a rock promontory in 1839 to defend the island from the French. It was later remodelled in 1880. Earlier there were fears that the French might use the island in an attempt to rescue Napoleon from St Helena (where he was held prisoner from 1815 until his death in 1821). The Fort still contains a number of underground rooms and ramparts from which a comprehensive view of Georgetown, the sea and the beaches is possible. The rusted mounts for guns can still be seen, though the guns themselves were removed after World War II.
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