Castles and Fortifications of England and Wales

PORTSDOWN FORTS


Fort Purbrook from the sea
Photo Charles Taylor

The five forts, with two supporting batteries, were built between 1861 and 1874 on the top of Portsdown Hill overlooking Portsmouth to protect the harbour from an invasion force attacking from the north or east by land. From east to west these are Forts Purbrook, Widley, Southwick, Nelson and Wallington. The five Gosport Forts protected the west side of the harbour. They all have a low profile and are disguised by earth and grass banks on the northern or western sides respectively.

Fort Purbrook

Fort Purbrook, built 1862 to 1876, occupies the east end of the defensive line on Portsdown Hill. It is 2,400 yards east of Fort Widley and it built on a seven sided trace. Because of its position on the flank of the hill it was constructed to protect the north-eastern approaches. However it was considered vunerable to the northeast and east which led to the construction of two outposts to the fort, Crookhorn and Farlington redoubts. Fort Purbrook was bought by Portsmouth City Council in 1969, is in a good state of conservation, and is now leased as an Activity Centre.

Crookhorn Redoubt was designed as an additional fortification to protect the northeast approach to Fort Purbrook It was started in 1862 but never finished and had been demolished by 1876.

Farlington Redoubt supported the eastern side of Fort Purbrook looking over Bedhampton. It had an armament of five 64pr R.M.L.71 cwt guns, two 64pr R.M.L. 58cwt guns and a 4inch B.L. gun. There was a connecting tunnel fom Fort Purbrook where the gunners lived. The Redoubt survived until after World War 2 but the fort was demolished in the 1970s.


Photo Chris & Kim Taylor Photo Chris & Kim Taylor Photo Chris & Kim Taylor Photo Chris & Kim Taylor Photo Chris & Kim Taylor Photo Chris & Kim Taylor
Photo Chris & Kim Taylor Photo Chris & Kim Taylor Photo Chris & Kim Taylor Photo Chris & Kim Taylor

Fort Widley

Fort Widley is 3,100 yards east of Fort Southwick. It is six sided, was built between 1861 and 1876, and is basically identical to Fort Southwick. It had similar armament of 78 guns including 64 pr RMLs, 7-inch RBLs and 6.6 inch howitzers, as well as mortar batteries. It was disarmed in 1907. The fort was bought by Portsmouth City Council and now leased as an Activity Centre.


Fort Widley, © John Firth and licensed for reuse under cc-by-sa/2.0

Fort Southwick

Fort Southwick is 2,400 yards east of Fort Nelson and is similar in design to Fort Widley. The fort was built between 1861 and 1876 and was armed with 78 guns including 64 pr RMLs, 7-inch RBLs and 6.6 inch howitzers, as well as mortar batteries. During World War Two Fort Southwick served as a headquarters for Allied Commanders and a complex of underground bunkers and command positions were excavated beneath the Victorian tunnels. It was used by the Navy until 2003 when it was sold off. It is largely intact.


Fort Southwick, © Martyn Pattison and licensed for reuse under cc-by-sa/2.0

Fort Nelson

Fort Nelson is 2000 yards east of Fort Wallington and is a six sided fort, protected by a deep dry ditch, built between 1861 - 1870. The armament consisted of 30 guns, a mixture of 64 pr RMLs, 7-inch RBLs and 6.6-inch howitzers. There were also three mortar batteries, each containing three 13-inch mortars. Access to the fort was via two Guthrie rolling bridges. Fort Nelson was disarmed in 1907 and Hampshire County Council bought the site in 1978. It is currently leased by the Royal Armouries as its Museum of Artillery.


Fort Nelson photo Charles Taylor Interior of Fort Nelson photo Charles Taylor

Fort Wallington

Fort Wallington was constructed at the western end of Portsdown Hill overlooking Wallington village between 1861 - 1874. It is the smallest of the hill forts and is six sided in design as it was the link between the Portsdown and Gosport forts it needed to be able to fire in all directions. It was armed with 17 guns, 7-inch RBL, 64 pr.RML and 8-inch RML Howitzers with a single mortar battery for six 13-inch mortars. Like the other Portsdown Hill forts the entrances were protected by Guthrie rolling bridges. The fort was sold to a private owner in April 1961 who demolished most of the fort, which is now an industrial estate.


Fort Wallington photo Charles Taylor

 

Directions
On the B2177, the cliff top road overlooking Portsmouth.
Fort Purbrook - Portsdown Hill Road, Cosham, Portsmouth PO6 1BJ
Fort Widley - Portsdown Hill Road, Cosham, Portsmouth PO6 3LS
Fort Nelson - Portsdown Hill Road, Fareham PO17 6AN
Fort Southwick - Portsdown Hill Road, Fareham PO17 6AR
Fot Wallington - Military Road, Fareham PO16 8TT

 



VIEW FORT NELSON IN NEW WINDOW


VIEW FORT SOUTHWICK IN NEW WINDOW


VIEW FORT WIDLEY IN NEW WINDOW


VIEW FORT PURBROOK IN NEW WINDOW


VIEW FORT WALLINGTON IN NEW WINDOW

 
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