Description of Historic Place
The Searchlight Engine Room is situated near the centre of Fort Rodd Hill. The L-shaped, partly subterranean structure has two elevations exposed towards a ramp in a ditch. One side has a repetitive window rhythm with an entrance leading from the ramp. The sidewall of the structure is stepped while the roof of the storage tank is arched. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Searchlight Engine Room is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Searchlight Engine Room is one of the best examples of a structure associated with the nighttime capabilities of the Esquimalt-Victoria coastal defence capability. The structure is an integral part of the Searchlight system and also associated with the original planning and construction of Fort Rodd Hill. As the final and most elaborate large-scale military fortification on Canada’s West Coast, the structure was crucial to the upgrading of coastal defences in the Second World War.
The Searchlight Engine Room is a good example of a functional, low key, late 19th century military design. Camouflaged, and integrated into the site through the use of very good quality workmanship and materials, the specialized support structure exhibits excellent functional design. It was conceived to house the engines, dynamos and fuel required to power the searchlight facilities.
The setting of the Searchlight Engine Room is unchanged. The site has rolling, hilly terrain with low ground cover on both the landscape and overburden. The integration of the structure with the natural features is characteristic of coastal defences and it also reinforces the present character of the picturesque shoreline.
Joan Mattie, Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgarde Light station. 603, Fort Rodd Hill Road, Colwood, B.C. Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 96-096.
Searchlight System – Searchlight Engine Room, 603 Fort Rodd Hill Road, Colwood, British Columbia. Heritage Character Statement 96-096
The following character-defining elements of the Searchlight Engine Room should be respected, for example:
Its functional military design and good quality materials and craftsmanship for example:
-The simple L-shaped, partly subterranean structure with low massing.
-The stepped sidewall with projecting coping, the exposed concrete construction of the retaining walls and the plastered and painted finishes.
-The two elevations, the entrances and windows and the access ramp and ditch.
-The layout reflecting the specialized accommodation for the highly technical functions and equipment, the remaining interior fittings with two original Hornsby-Ackroyd engines and dynamos, the sheltered oil tank room and the engine room with raised platform.
-The arched roof of the oil storage tank, and the profile of the structure with earth overburden and three exhaust shafts.
The manner in which the Searchlight Engine Room reinforces the present character of the Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site as evidenced by:
-The unchanged setting characterized by low ground cover of the landscape and the overburden emphasizing the rolling, hilly terrain of the site.
-The integration of the structure with the natural features characteristic of coastal defences.