Fort Prins Frederik
Fort Prins Frederik lies next to the village of Ooltgensplaat, in the province of South Holland in the Netherlands.
In 1809 Napoleon feared a possible British invasion and thus the French wanted to prevent the Hellegat water from being used by enemy ships to reach Willemstad. Therefore they built two forts, one on either side of the Hellegat water; Fort Prins Frederik in 1809 and Fort Sabina between 1810 and 1811. Their name for Fort Prins Frederik was Fort Duquesne.
Fort Duquesne was built as earthen bastioned fort with in its center a a rectangular Model Tower, 1811 type, model 1, which could house 60 men. It is one of only three of these Model Towers built in the Netherlands. The other two, built around the same time, being at Fort Sabina and Fort Hell. These Model Towers, also known as Empire or Napoleon Towers, are the French equivalent of the British Martello Towers.
On December 4th, 1813, Dutch soldiers surprised the weak French garrison and took over the fort. Subsequently the name of the fort was changed to Fort Prins Frederik. In 1874 it was incorporated into the 'Position at the Hollands Diep and Volkerak' together with Fort Hell, Fort Sabina and Fort Buitensluis. A period of rebuilding followed and several bomb proof buildings were built around the French Model Tower. In 1909 it was garrisoned by 196 men.
After WW I Fort Prins Frederik lost its strategic importance and was dismantled in 1928. During WW II the fort was used as a prison and look-out post by the German army. In 1944 the area became situated in the frontline. Fort Prins Frederik was still occupied by the Germans but Fort Sabina, on the other side of the Hellegat water, was already occupied by Canadian soldiers.
After WW II the fort was used as a re-education camp. Since 1969 the fort was used as a camping ground and conference center. During the last decades over 150 recreational homes were illegaly built on the fort although this was tolerated by the local Council. The Model Tower and some of the bomb proof buildings were used for group events and as an inn.
At present Fort Prins Frederik can be visited for free. However, from the outside the fort is totally unrecognizable as a fort; it just looks like an island with lots of recreational homes, trees and bushes on it. Inside the fort the historical buildings can only be seen from the outside or as a guest of the inn. Only the Model Tower makes this an interesting fort. Removing all the recreational homes, clearing a lot of bushes and cleaning up the place might do it a lót of good, in my opinion. Now the place looks rather shabby.