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History Castles and Fortifications

No Man's Land Fort (Solent)

REF NR: 26

In 1860 the Royal commission concluded that in order to protect the home fleet in Portsmouth due to the new vessels and armaments that were being developed throughout the western reaches of Europe, that there was a need to fortify the approaches and make sure it was impossible for any attacking navy to come anywhere close to their goal. The idea that a ring of ships could do this was now not viable due to the speed and fire power of the newer warships being developed. The proposed ring of forts however could be built with formidable fire-power and considerable defences, so much so that it would be suicide for even the most advanced vessel of its time to try and attack.

Building Costs
  • No Mans Land Fort - £462,500 Based on this cost it is estimated by using the retail price index as a conversion calculator the relative cost in today market would be £34,000,000.00 , Making it one of the most expensive forts ever built.
This was one of the outer forts and the identical sister fort to that Horse Sands, it was begun in 1861 and was positioned towards Easter approaches of Portsmouth harbour at Spithead. With a diameter of 200ft being fully armour plated it was to be manned by 5 officers and 72 soldiers and was fully self contained fortress with its own water supply.
By the time it was completed the threat of invasion by the French had completely subsided and over the coming years was modified from time to time with various armaments.
  • 1886 – Mounted
  • Lower – 12 * 12.5-inch RML
  • Upper     – 12.5-inch RML
  • 1893 – Mounted
  • Lower – 8 * 12.5-inch RML., 4 * 12-inch B.L.
  • Upper     – 8* 10-inch R.M.L. 5 * 12-inch B.L
  • 1898 – Mounted
  • Lower – 8 * 12.5-inch R.M.L. 4 * 12-inch B.L.12 * 6pdr QF
  • Upper – 9 * 10-inch RML, 4 * 12-inch B.L., 12 * 6pdr QF
  • 1912 – Mounted
  • 3 * 6-inch BL guns , 3 * 12-inch BL ( 12-inch were removed in 1918)
  • 1943 – 1945 Mounted
  • 40mm Bofors 1948 and in 1958 all remaining guns were removed
Update: Recently purchased by the same people who have bough Southsea or Spithead fort March 2012

  1. Sources: Palmerstonforts Society..  A PDF with a very good account of the actual building methods used, can be found in resources.

        PDF's are reproduced with kind permission of the Palmerstonforts Society  

  2.   After the 2nd World War the fort was decommissioned and finally put up for sale in the 1960’s but however it was not purchased until the 1980’s by a private entrepreneur. He converted it into luxury offshore accommodation but has had a chequered recent history with ownership and finance as buyers were few and far between. In 2010 it has been sold again to another business consortium who have again proposed various plans for its future.  

  2. Sources: Atlasobscura , Palmerstone Forts Society 


2012 - Sold again to the new owners Amazing Venues