The star-shaped Fort Cornwallis stands at the place
where Francis Light and crew landed on August 11th, 1786 to "take
possession" of the island of Penang. Before that the island belonged to
the Sultan of Kedah.
August 11th 1786 was also the birth date of Prince Charles and hence
Francis Light named Pulau Pinang as the Prince of Wales Island.
At first the fort was made of a stockade of nibong palm trunks, but this
was quickly replaced by a brick fort. In old paintings and postcards
Fort Cornwallis can be seen surrounded by a moat and containing a number
of buildings within its walls: of these the Christian chapel and a
gunpowder magazine still stand. Fort Cornwallis is the best-preserved
fort in Peninsular Malaysia.
Fort Cornwallis was gazette on 8 September 1977, under the Antiquities
Act 168/ 1976, as an Ancient Monument and Historic site.
In 1805 there were plans to rebuild
a fort further inland, but that would have meant demolishing the
existing fort and half the commercial town!
The fort is one of the first European structures
in Penang. Fort Cornwallis
is probably the only remaining fort built by the British in this
part of the world.
It was named after the
Governor-General of Bengal, Charles Marquis Cornwallis.
Francis Light designed the fort to protect the harbour from
possible French attacks.
At that time Anglo-French rivalry was at a peak. However, after
the Anglo-French hostility ceased in 1816, the fort lost any
semblance of significant importance.
Seri Rambai Cannon (above)
Inside Fort Cornwallis are
numerous cannons and one of them is the infamous Sri Rambai, a
brass cannon with an interesting history.
This cannon was presented to the Sultan of Johor by the Dutch.
However, it was given to the Acheen and installed at Kuala
Finally, this cannon was seized by the British and installed
here in 1871.
According to a local believe, childless women can conceive by
placing flowers in its barrel and offering special prayers.
The bowels of the fort contain a history
gallery, a handicraft and souvenir shop, and an open-air amphitheatre,
where local music and dance festivals are frequently staged.
The fort has become a popular destination among local and foreign
The statue of Francis Light, modelled after
his son was relocated from the Penang State Museum to the grounds of
Fort Cornwallis. The status now overlooks the fort and it holds a great
heritage treasure in the heart of Georgetown.
Opening hours: 8:30am to 7:00pm daily
Admission: RM1.00 per person
Address: Padang Kota Lama,
10200 Penang, Malaysia