European Forts & Trading Posts in Africa

  • Cape Coast Castle, Ground Plan, 1756

    Surveyed in March 1756 by Justly Watson, Director of Engineers, this colored manuscript plan shows storerooms, warehouses, apartments for European personnel, etc. In the upper right hand corner (marked by the letter A) is the women slave yard. The inset contains a note saying The figures 1654 are upon the keystone of the arch to the warehouse. (See also, Cape Coast Castle, Upper Plan, image reference PRO-3 on this website).
  • Cape Coast Castle, Upper Plan, 1756

    Surveyed in March 1756 by Justly Watson, Director of Engineers, this colored manuscript plan shows apartments for European personnel, batteries, barracks for soldiers,chapel or Great Hall; etc. The slave yard is in the upper right hand corner of the structure. (See also, Cape Coast Castle, Ground Plan, image reference PRO-3 on this website).
  • Fort Nassau (Mowri), Gold Coast, late 17th cent.

    View from the sea; note surrounding African town. Originally built by the Dutch in 1624, at the time of Barbot's writing, it was almost square, the front somewhat larger than the other sides . . . . It has . . .twenty-four guns; the garrison being forty white men, besides the hired blacks (pp. 174-175). Barbot was Agent-General of the Royal Company of Africa. See P.E.H. Hair, Adam Jones, and Robin Law, eds., Barbot on Guinea: The Writings of Jean Barbot on West Africa 1678-1712 (London: The Hakluyt Society, 1992). A version of this illustration was later published in Thomas Astley (ed.), A New General Collection of Voyages and Travels (London, 1745-47), vol. 2, plate 64, facing p. 608.
  • Cabo Corso (Cape Coast) Castle, Gold Coast, late 17th cent.

    View from the sea; African town on right. Barbot was Agent-General of the Royal Company of Africa. For details, see P.E.H. Hair, Adam Jones, and Robin Law, eds., Barbot on Guinea: The Writings of Jean Barbot on West Africa 1678-1712 (London: The Hakluyt Society, 1992).
  • Plan of James Island and Fort, Gambia, 1727

    Smith made this drawing for the Royal African Company which claimed the fort. Note the location of the New Barracks (center right) and another slave house (upper center). For another architectural drawing of this fort, based on a survey close to 30 years later, see image PRO-1.
  • James Island and Fort, Gambia, 1727

    The South-west Prospect of James Island on the River of Gambia. Drawn 1727; the caption gives details on this fort, trade, and local African populations. Some of the latter are Moslems and Christians, but most pagan . . . on either side of the river, their language is so different as not to understand each other, their chief commodities are ivory, wax, & the best of African gold. The fort belonged to the Royal African Company which had hired Smith in 1726 to make a survey of its forts in West Africa.
  • Untitled Image (Elmina Castle and Neighboring Village)

    This sketch shows Elmina Castle in the Voltaic region. Durand sailed on a French slaving vessel when he visited the West African coast. He wrote that "Elmina is undoubtedly the most handsome and strongest fort of the coast. It is situated on the seashore, and farther up on a mountain is another fort that dominates the one below. . . The village at the foot of the two forts resembles a small city. The streets are well laid out, and there are workers of all professions. The houses are very pretty" For Durand's comments on this drawing and its historical context, see Robert Harms, The Diligent: A Voyage through the worlds of the slave trade (Basic Books, 2002), fig. 17.1 pp. 133-135; and also Christopher DeCorse, An Archaeology of Elmina: Africans and Europeans on the Gold Coast, 1400-1900 (Smithsonian Institution Press, 2001).
  • Dix Cove Fort, Gold Coast, 1727

    Caption: The South Prospect of Dixcove Fort Drawn 1727, ye hithermost English fort on the Gold Coast . . . and is subordinate to Cape-Coast. The caption gives geographical features of the area and food provisioning; note the African towns outside of the fort. Smith made his survey for the Royal African Company. see also, other images mariners on this site.
  • Bense [Bunce] Island and Fort, Sierra Leone, ca. 1727

    Shows physical details of this important British slave trading station. Note, the Slave House in the upper left hand corner; the old and new African towns outside of the fort are also shown. Smith made this survey for the Royal African Company. See also image mariners17. An account of British slave trading activities and the importance of the island in the mid-18th century is given in, Sean M. Kelley, The Voyage of the Slave Ship Hare (The University of North Carolina Press, 2016), passim.
  • Bunce (Bance) Island and Fort, Sierra Leone, 1727

    Caption: The North-west Prospect of Bense [sic] Island on the River Sierra-Leone. Also, referred to variously as Bence, Bense, Bance, the island is situated in the Sierra Leone river, near Freetown. It was important to the British slave trade in the mid 18th century. Smith, a surveyor, was hired by the Royal African Company in 1726 to survey its forts in West Africa. The caption provides some details on the factory, its location, and the naming of Sierra Leone; the chief trade of these parts are slaves, ivory, and camwood. See also image mariners18. Another view of the island is shown in an 1805 watercolor held by the National Maritime Museum (Greenwich). For a description of British slave trading activities and the island's importance in the mid-18th century, see Sean M. Kelley, The Voyage of the Slave Ship Hare (The University of North Carolina Press, 2016), passim.
  • English and Dutch Forts, Gold Coast, 1727

    Caption: The South Prospect of the English and Dutch Forts at Commenda . . . call'd Commany by the Dutch and Commenda by the English who have here a fort which is the largest & strongest of any subordinate to Cape-Coast. Details are given, including, under shelter of each of the fort guns are Negroe towns. . . . The natives are mostly fishermen & very dextrous at throwing a cast net wherewith they catch most of their fish . . . . They eat it with Cankee, a sort of bread made of maize . . and mix'd with palm wine . . . . The chief trade of this place is in slaves and elephants teeth. Smith was hired by the Royal African Company in 1726 to survey its forts and trading stations in West Africa. See also other images, mariners on this website.
  • English and Dutch Forts, Secondee, Gold Coast, 1727

    Caption: The South-west Prospect of the English and Dutch Forts at Secondee . . . . The inland trade extraordinary good especially for slaves and elephants teeth (provided the natives are at peace). Provisions here are not scarce especially fish. Smith made his survey for the Royal African Company. See also other images mariners on this site.
  • Cape-Coast Castle, Gold Coast, 1727

    Titled, The North-West Prospect of Cape-Coast Castle. The caption notes that Cape Coast is ye largest, strongest, & most beautifull castle belonging to the Royal Afr[ican] Com[pany]. Details are given on the fort and its location, noting that under shelter of ye guns, is built a large populous Negro town. The people are of a warlike sort with comments about the diet and religion of the local population. Smith made his survey for the Royal African Company. See other images mariners on this website.
  • English and Dutch Forts, Accra, Gold Coast, 1727

    Title, The North Prospect of the English and Dutch Forts at Accra, 1727. The caption describes geographical features of the forts and their location, food provisions available in the area, and notes there are also Negroe towns belonging to each of them (shown in illustration), and the trade of this country . . .is mostly in slaves and gold. Smith made this survey for the Royal African Company.
  • James Fort, Accra, Gold Coast, 1727

    Title, A Prospect From Sea of James Fort at Accra. . . . the Leeward most and remotest that the English have on the Gold Coast . . . here the English have vast quantities of very good salt. The African town, shown on right, was commonly found adjacent to European forts/trading stations in West Africa. Smith made this survey for the Royal African Company. See also other images mariners on this website.
  • Williams Fort, Whydah (Ouidah), Dahomey, 1727

    Title, The South West Prospect of Williams Fort at Whydah 1727. Called Fida by the Dutch, Juda by the French, and Whidah by the English. The caption praises the climate and location, notes the population density, and how the natives . . . are accounted the best husband men [farmers] and worst warriors in Guinea . . . . Here they worship a large beautiful kind of snake . . .kept in a little house built for that use in some grove, where they nightly go to worship with drums, and trumpets of elephants teeth . . . . Their chief trade is in slaves. Smith was hired by the Royal African Company in 1726. See also images mariners on this website.
  • Cape Coast Castle, Gold Coast, 1835

    Cape Coast Castle, the author writes, presented a handsome appearance . . . with its high white walls founded on a ledge of granite extending into the sea; and against which the bright green and white surf curled and dashed incessantly with [a] heavy roar. Behind the castle was the native town, the houses of one and two stories, and generally of a dark red colour (p. 146).
  • Principe/Prince Island, Atlantic Ocean, 1727

    Title, A Prospect from Sea of ye Harbour of Princess belonging to ye Portugueze. The caption notes The harbour is very convenient to carreen ships in, and most ships bound from Africa to America with slaves put in here for wood, water, etc. Smith made this survey for the Royal African Company. Principe island (actually Prince in English) lies between Ferdinando Po and St. Thome/Tome in the Atlantic.
  • Gorée Island and Citadel, 1874

    View of Gorée, from the roadstead at Dakar; derived from a sketch made in situ and accompanying a tourist's journal extract (p. 311) describing a visit to Gorée, at the time with a population of 3-3,500.
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