The British colonial fortification, Fort Metal Cross (originally Dixcove Fort) is located on a promontory near the fishing village of Infuma, in Dixcove in the Ahanta West Municipal Assembly (AWMA). The cove’s quiet waters are suitable for small boats and canoes; large ships anchor approximately 2 kilometres offshore.
Fort Metal Cross was designated as Dick’s Cove (Dixcove). The authority given to build this fort was between 1683 and 1690. There was a bone of contention between the English and the Brandenburgers. The English gained the upper hand in 1697. The English enjoyed an unbroken occupation of it until 1868 when they transferred it to the Dutch by the exchange.
For the British, the motive for commencing construction of Dixcove Fort in 1692 was identical to that of the Dutch in building Fort Batentstein – to tap into the promise of gold in the hinterland; and also to win back the many English captains trading at the Brandenburgers’ (Germans’) Fort Gross Friedrichsburg in nearby Princess-Town. However, the people of Infuma, loyal to two chiefs whose allegiances swayed between the British and Dutch, besieged the fort several times, on behalf of the Dutch, stalling its completion. By 1750, the fort was equipped to carry up to 25 canons.
Brandenburg-Prussia started building Fort Groß Friedrichsburg about 15 kilometres west of Dixcove in 1683, in the colony of Brandenburger Gold Coast but it was not completed until the 1690s. Fort Metal Cross was besieged twice in 1712 by John Kanu, a local ally of the Prussians, but the fort was defended successfully.
The promise of gold never materialised, as the gold that was mined was largely impure gold. Hence, the fort earned the title of ‘the fake mint of the Gold Coast’ by author Bosman. Like Fort Batentstein, Fort Metal Cross became a service station for the repair of ships and the supply of timber from the surrounding forest; and during the slave trade, it became a slave prison.
The 1867 fort exchange agreement between the British and Dutch resulted in Dutch ownership of the fort in 1868. The Dutch had to call for military reinforcement to restore calm in their new areas of control, as the local populace was infuriated by the swap, especially since they had not been consulted. The name of the fort was altered to ‘Metalen Kruis’ (Metal Cross), after one of the Dutch gunboats, which brought the reinforcement.
On 6 April 1872, it was returned to the English as per the Gold Coast treaty of 1871, after the Dutch agreed to leave the country and the name Metal Kruis was anglicised as Metal Cross. Dixcove remained a thorn in the flesh of the Dutch, whose full control of the political affairs of the Ahanta areas was disturbed by the British enclave.
However, the immense cost of control persuaded the Dutch to sell their forts to the British. Hence, in 1872 the fort reverted to the British, who renamed it Fort Metal Cross.
The Fort was included as one of the Forts and Castles of Volta, Greater Accra, Central and Western Regions that became a World Heritage Site in 1979. The fort has served both the Police and the Postal Services. It has currently been leased to a private organization.
The fort’s opening hours are 9:00 am to 4:30 pm.
Credit: igoghana / Van Dantzig, Albert, Forts and Castles of Ghana