It is nevertheless true that a great many Islanders and holidaymakers have enjoyed the Fort’s many offerings, which, over the years, have included everything from lavish Gloucester Hall shows to a funfair and from the Jungle Jim adventure playground to snooker tables.
However, it would also be true to say that Fort users’ expectations have seldom been fully realised. In spite of having had its own States committee for many years and latterly having become the responsibility of the Education Minister and his department, the Fort’s ideal role has never really emerged.
Thanks, however, to the deliberations of the Education and Home Affairs Scrutiny panel, the underlying issues are now being examined more systematically than ever before. There might be no perfect solution for the long-term future of this remarkable structure, with its striking blend of the old and the new, but at least the possibilities – and the impossibilities in the present economic circumstances –are being evaluated.
Unfortunately, there is always likely to be tension between the three principal traits in the Fort’s 21st century character. If it continues to be used as a major auditorium for entertainments it can never become a dedicated sports centre. Equally, if leisure and sport continue to be the dominant forces, justice is unlikely to be done to the fortification as a key element of the Island’s heritage.
There are undoubtedly those who believe that, ideally, the Fort should take its place alongside Mont Orgueil and Elizabeth Castle as an eloquent reminder of this Island’s military past. Perhaps sadly, this is never likely to be its future. Now more than ever before the whole site is seen in commercial terms and full exploitation of its heritage potential could never meet the expectation that it should at least pay its way and preferably turn a profit.
As has been suggested, what Fort Regent needs – in addition to the present Scrutiny exercise – is a true political friend and champion. Only if someone with drive, insight and initiative takes over where Scrutiny stops are the old problems of suitable usage in the very best interests of the Island likely to be solved once an for all.