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. The five Gosport Forts protected the west side of the harbour. They have a low profile and are disguised by earth and grass banks. A six sided design was used for Fort Nelson (with 26 guns) and Fort Wallington (17 guns) and seven sided for the remainder - Fort Purbrook, Fort Widley (21 guns) and Fort Southwick (23 guns). All had a complement of about 220 men. Fort Purbrook had two additional defenses to protect its eastern side, Farlington Redoubt (demolished in 1970) and Crookhorn Retreat (destroyed by 1876).

Fort Purbrook is now an activity centre, Fort Southwick remains MOD property and Fort Wallington is mainly demolished and is now part of an industrial estate. Fort Nelson is now a military museum, open April - October. Fort Widley is an equestian centre.


Fort Purbrook photo Charles Taylor Fort Nelson photo Charles Taylor Interior of Fort Nelson photo Charles Taylor Fort Wallington photo Charles Taylor Fort Southwick photo Bob Hunt

Fort Nelson aerial photo ©Paul R. Davis Fort Nelson aerial photo ©Paul R. Davis

 

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 Southick - Portsdown Hill Road, Fareham PO17 6AR

 



VIEW FORT NELSON IN NEW WINDOW


VIEW FORT SOUTHWICK IN NEW WINDOW


VIEW FORT WIDLEY IN NEW WINDOW


VIEW FORT PURBROOK IN NEW WINDOW

 
© Castles and Fortifications of England and Wales