Ever since I first heard the stirring stories about my Great Great Grandfather, Alfred Baker, I have harboured an ambition to visit the Taku Forts (known in China as the Dagu Forts). Alfred was a career soldier who travelled to China in 1860 whilst serving with the 67th (Hampshire) Regiment.
A joint French / British expedition of some 14,000 men had been mobilised in order to force the extension of Western trading interests in Shanghai and Canton. The immediate objective was Pekin but access to the city was restricted because control of river traffic on the Pei-Ho river was exercised by the garrisons of the Taku Forts which had been constructed at the mouth of the river.
|Constructing the Dagu Forts|
|Newly constructed tower blocks - Dagu Port, China|
I knew that the Chinese had turned one remaining fort into a museum but with a one star rating on Trip Advisor it seemed to me that to get the most from my visit I would need to rely heavily on my imagination. The reality proved to be different - and truly spectacular.
|The Taku Forts Museum, Tianjin, China|
|The Entrance to the Taku Forts Museum, China|
The Fort has been sensitively 'tidied up'. The causeway ramp provides access to the parapet which is marked out by a mix of authentic and replica guns of the 1860 period. From the top there is a fantastic view of the estuary and the modern docks across the water on the outskirts of Tianjin.
|The South Fort at Dagu Port - Then & Now|
|Artillery facing the River Pei-ho, Taku, China|
A full set of photographs from my visit can be accessed here.
For more detail on the 1860 action at the Taku Forts and the role played by Alfred Baker please click here.