Forts of the Solent (Spitbank)

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Spitbank Fort today is luxury accommodation. In 1861 building started on this Fort. Its main purpose was to form another line of defence for ships that made it past 2 other larger Forts in the Solent {Horse sands Fort and No Man’s Land Fort}. Building stopped and only restarted in 1867 after government reviews, but not completed until 1878. The Fort was fitted with x9 , 12 inch guns. In 1898 the role of the fort was changed to defend against smaller craft so added to its  roof were x2  4.7inch guns and searchlights. In the early 1900s all but three original large guns were removed.

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Forts of the Solent {Horse Sands}


Horse Sand Fort  is 240 ft across, built between 1865 and 1880, with two floors and a basement the fort is armour-plated all round. During the WW2 an extensive submarine barrier  was built in the form of large concrete blocks running about 6 ft below sea level from the fort to the shore at Southsea with only a single narrow gap to allow small craft to pass through, this barrier and a much shorter one running south from No Man’s Land Fort towards Ryde Sands remains as the cost of demolition is  too high. Although owned by the same owners as the other Solent forts this fort remains un-restored at this time.






Fort Gilkicker

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Fort Gilkicker one of  Lord Palmerston’s forts was constructed between 1863 and 1869 at Stokes Bay, near Gosport. Its purpose was to defend the Naval deep water anchorage at Spithead and to provide protection to the Western approach to Portsmouth Naval dockyard and harbour.  Fort Gilkicker was conceived as a semi-circular fort for 26 guns on one level firing through armoured embrasures with a barrack closing the rear of the semi-circle. It faced in a easterly direction its principal role was to direct fire on Sturbridge Shoal and to the flanks were to bear upon Spithead and Stokes Bay. The design for the fort was altered slightly in 1871 for 22 guns in casemates with five heavier guns in open positions on the roof. Today the armoured embrasures to the outside of the fort can’t be seen as they are all now covered with earth. The fort is abandoned  and derelict but a number of years ago was sold to be turned into luxury houses but no work has started.

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No way in!


no way in

Fort Monckton is a historic military fort at the Eastern end of Stokes Bay Gosport Hampshire originally built to protect Portsmouth harbour at the start of the American War of Independence. It was rebuilt in the 1880s a part of the Lord Palmerston’s ring of forts around Portsmouth. Almost abandoned during WW2 the fort remained in the ownership of the Ministry of Defence. Today it is said to be the only Portsmouth fort controlled by the Army rather than the Navy. It is also said the fort is a secret training centre for SIS (Secret Intelligence Service).


A Victorian Fort on the South Coast of England

Due to the development of new armaments and the feared threat of invasion, from the French, the Prime Minster of Britain Lord Henry Palmerston, commissioned a review and implementation to strengthen Portsmouth and the surrounding area A ring of forts circle the Naval Base at Portsmouth, some sea forts others on land. On Portsdown Hill the forts were built to point their guns inland to guard Portsmouth from inland attack.  If Portsmouth was attacked from the north, none of the existing fortifications would protect the dockyard and harbour against bombardment from the hills. Fort Purbrook is one of these new forts, finished in 1870, was occupied by the Army until 1925, they returned 1939 during WW2 It also housed the Home Guard Headquarters and the Ambulance Depot. The Navy used it for a radar base from around 1947, and a School of Navigation until 1968.purbrook.1 I had a chance to visit the fort which is not usually open to the public today due to a craft fair being held at the fort. As the French invasion never happened the ring of forts is locally know as Palmerston’s follies.

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Sail and Steam HMS Warrior 1860

Sail and Steam HMS Warrior 1860

On many teenage holiday spent in West Wales I can recall the hulk of a great iron ship used as an oil barge near Pembroke Dock. HMS Warrior is now restored and one of the historic ships open to the public in Portsmouth Dockyard.  Launched in 1860 and although resembling her forerunners such as HMS Victory with figurehead, gun-decks arrangement (but some what larger) and the officers accommodation at her stern. This steam and sail steel steam powered warship was the most advanced “warship” of her time.