Paknam Fort

This morning, I took some people across the river to see the fort. I thought you might be interested to see some of my photos. The Phra Chulachomklao Fortress, or Paknam Fort, was built in 1893 on the west side of the Chao Phraya River at the entrance to the estuary. The following is a report of a visit to the Paknam Fort in June 1893, by Gustave Rolin-Jaequemyns, General Adviser to the King:

“For a long time we inspect the considerable work on the fort which, by its position, commands the river mouth and approximately a mile and a half of its course. There are seven brick towers, each equipped with a heavy caliber Armstrong gun. The masonry is completed. It only needs to be covered with a casing of earth and grass.

A mile into the sea there is a target on which they fire three shots with one gun and two with another. The charge of each shot is from 25 to 30 pounds of powder. The guns are hidden. They are hauled up by a hydraulic mechanism at the moment of the aiming and they disappear by themselves after the shot. The sight of this big, sly machine which ambushes and takes aim like a brigand to hide immediately thereafter, has something ferocious about it.”

The following month, on July 13th 1893, a skirmish took place between two French ships and the garrison manning the fort. Both sides suffered casualties. Although a smaller ship which was acting as a pilot boat for the French ships was badly damaged, the gun-ships still successfully bypassed the fort and other Thai gun-ships and made it up-river to Bangkok. (Thai history books at school say a French ship was sunk and that it was a victory for the Thai people.)

The seven Armstrong guns only saw action that one time. However, they are still in good working order as they fired a seven gun salute to celebrate their 105th anniversary in 1998. The fort is now open to the public. Below a statue of King Rama V there is an interesting museum about the conflict with France. Also on show to the public is H.T.M.S. Maeklong, a warship commissioned from the Japanese shipyards, pre-World War II. The ship was in service for 60 years, including duty as a royal ship for King Rama IX. There is also an outdoor museum of guns from various world wars and a boardwalk through a mangrove forest.

Entrance to the park is free, though it is best to arrange your own transport. The fort is located at the mouth of the Chao Phraya River in Tambon Laemfarpha, Phra Samut Chedi District, seven kilometres from Phra Samut Chedi on Sukswasdi Road. It is best to arrange your own transport from Phra Samut Chedi.

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