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Travel by boat for a once-in-a-lifetime stay on a historic Solent fort, including transfers, breakfast, a three-course dinner, prosecco on arrival and a guided tour. Can't commit to booking right now? The fort was completed in With a diameter at its base of ft 49 m narrowing to ft Its circular stone and concrete foundations were laid directly onto the seabed at Spit Bank, which is the shallowest part of Spit Sand, the wider area of shallows outside the Harbour entrance after which the fort is named on maritime charts. The seaward side of the fort, facing out towards deeper water, was built to house and deal with much heavier weapons.

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This side of the fort was designed for nine inch RML guns. A further two guns were originally intended to be placed in turrets on the concrete roof but these were dropped from the final plans.

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  • The lower level of the fort housed the shell and cartridge stores together with the kitchen and general store. Accommodation was provided for by two barrack rooms on the gun floor, each with space for 12 men, and quarters for two sergeants and one or two officers. Additional men, when needed, could sleep in hammocks. As with all the forts, the garrison had its own supply of fresh water from a central artesian well sunk in to a depth of ft m.

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    Although Spitbank never had need to fire its heavy guns, its armaments were upgraded several times. The inch guns on the seaward side were replaced in the early s with inch, ton guns while two 4. Spitbank remained military property until but is now owned and operated, following extensive restoration, by a hospitality and leisure operator. Built in a similar manner, with circular foundations laid directly onto the seabed, its diameter is ft 73 m at its base, narrowing to ft 62 m at its upper level.

    The basement level harboured 24 shell stores and 14 cartridge stores. The gun floors are built in the same way as those of Spitbank, with a protective outer layer of armour formed from plate iron, wrought iron and teak sandwiched in layers. Work on the fort began in July before being suspended from to , when it restarted.

    By , its specification had been changed to upgrade its heavy guns to the latest The fort became a test-bed for further developments in artillery, including the use of new hydraulic systems. In , the outer ring of magazines in the basement level was filled in to provide more substantial footings for new inch ton guns on special mountings. While some of the heavier guns were removed or replaced in following years, new quick-firing, breech-loading guns were added to counter the threat of attack by smaller craft.

    Spitbank Fort

    Early electronic equipment was also installed to detect the approach of enemy craft. It was completed in March The fort has an almost identical specification tos that of Horse Sand. Only minor differences to its armaments reflect its location on the Isle of Wight side of the Portsmouth Harbour and Solent deep water approaches. Submerged concrete blocks run from it to the Isle of Wight shoreline, completing the submarine barrier that forces approaching shipping to pass between the two biggest Solent forts.

    The problems the builders had in addressing the arms race of the late 19th century are evidenced by reports that none of the larger This was due to the lack of sufficient space in which to manage their recoil.

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    Despite such limitations, the fort was used to test new ammunition transport and gun management systems using a combination of electrical and hydraulic power. It became the first fort in Britain to incorporate such systems and also the first to be illuminated throughout by electricity. It was given scheduled ancient monument status in Released by the military 20 years later it has been restored and converted as a luxury hospitality and leisure venue.

    Problems with subsidence meant the fort was never completed as intended and had only three heavy guns fitted. Solent Forts.

    The Armstrong Gun The challenges presented by building such massive constructions in the middle of a tidal seaway were not the only issue. Falling Behind This only complicated matters for those building the sea forts.

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    The Solent Forts There are four sea forts in total, although some documents refer to more. Did You Know? This was allegedly to ensure they would not try to desert from a posting that would have been cold, lonely and — as it proved — routinely uneventful. It has become the focus for an annual charity walk that is deliberately not publicised so as to keep participant numbers manageable, but which raises growing sums each year.

    Some blocks nearest the shore are revealed during the lowest tides and safe passages have been cleared for smaller craft. But they remain a hazard that, although clearly marked on maritime charts, still catches out careless yacht and powerboat skippers from time to time.