When you are sailing by AFerry.co.uk from Portsmouth Harbour to the Isle of Wight or mainland Europe beyond, do you ever wonder about those round sea-forts that are evident in the Solent? Well, they are officially called Palmerston Forts but are named locally as Palmerston’s Follies after the Prime Minister who commissioned them to protect the UK against France – Spitbank Fort, Horse Sand Fort, No Man’s Land Fort and St Helens Fort.
The folly part? Well, they were never used in wartime, were built at a huge expense and opened when they are already obsolete in weapon technology terms. They formed part of a broader defence ring protecting Portsmouth Harbour and The Solent (and elsewhere in the UK) which includes a chain of land forts which are located around Portsmouth, most noticeably, on Portsdown Hill.
So what’s happened to the sea-forts now, you might ask? Well, the good news for Portsmouth is that someone has had the tenacity, drive and vision to convert these sea-forts into luxury, unique destinations in their own right. Amazing Venues now owns three of the forts under The Solent Forts, with two currently open and accepting bookings for a once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
Spitbank Fort, which opened in 2012, now offers accommodation for eight luxury suites, three bars, two restaurant areas and spa facilities for guests to enjoy. It even has a rooftop hot pool and sauna, offering unbeatable 360 degree panoramic views of the Solent and unparalleled fishing!
It’s sister fort, No Man’s Fort is now taking bookings for day trip guests and overnight stays with day visits costed at just £99 per person for return boat transfers and a four course meal. It’s larger than Spitbank and offers 23 bedrooms, two helicopter pads for private use, a nightclub, laser tag, games rooms, snooker room, rooftop hot-pool, glad-floored lighthouse, gallery restaurant, wine bar and spa facilities. Phew.
The third fort – Horse Sand Fort – is still as it was when the soldiers left with guns still in place and future plans include tours of this fort too. Just incredible. Sign up for their newsletter – I’m certainly going to!
So, when next booking your ferry crossing with AFerry, take a long hard look at Palmerston’s Sea-Forts – history evolving right in front of our eyes – and the future looks bright for them and for those of us who live in the area.
Contributor: Sue Lowry
Photographs 1, 2, 3 – Sue Lowry
Photographs 4, 5, 6 – courtesy of Solent Forts, Amazing Venues
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For media enquiries about Solent Forts or Amazing Venues, please contact The Brighter Group.