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Sailing the Solent

Issue : 9 Updated : 22nd January 2013

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Alternative Forts in the Solent with suitable themes


Audio Break

Suitable haunting nautical backing for the feature

Bob Le-Roi at chart table

Sail plan & course plotting at the chart table

Royal Sovereign tower Eastbourne Royal Sovereign Tower off Eastbourne

Transmanche ferry turning in river Transmanche ferry bows

Transmanche ferry at Newhaven

Transmanche ferry just over half way turned Transmanche ferry sails from Newhaven

Turns in the river to make passage to France - They come close

Nab Tower close-up

Nab Tower one of two "Mystery Towers"

Mystery Forts being built at Shoreham

The Towers being constructed at Shoreham Harbour in 1918, code named M-N were designed to accomodate 100 men & all their equipment

With others it was intended to form a chain across the Solent but with the Armistice the project was cancelled

One Tower was scrapped whilst the other 10.000 ton monster was positioned 4.6 miles east of foreland on 12thSeptember 1920 to replace the NAB lightship

The Nab Light Tower is a forerunner to the Maunsell Sea Forts & marks the Deep Water entry into the Solent

Nab Tower closer

The 4 degree list is not an illusion it's had it since sunk

For the Thames Estuary Sea Forts navigate from

Fort Fax & see Offshore

for publications videos & CD's on the Maunsell Sea Forts

Horse Sands Fort

The Napoleonic Forts here Horse Sand Fort in June 2003 on the mainland side of the Portsmouth approach

View down into Horse Sands Fort 1969

The view down into Horse Sand Fort taken in 1969

Inside Horse Sands Fort

We believe this is Mike Deveraux in the centre of Horse Sand Fort again in 1969, taken during the Brighton Collage Rag Week when a Pirate Radio Station was set up on the Fort

The above pictures are from the Mike Bass Collection, Mike was there to offer technical assistance

More pictures of Mike's appear throughout the site, for his tribute see Mike Bass

Horse Sands Fort

Horse Sand Fort with Portsmouth shoreline behind

The yellow buoy marked the trailing wall that runs from shore

During the winter of 2004, the anti-submarine barrier has been completely removed between No Man's Land fort and the Isle of Wight making access to Bembridge etc much easier from the central Solent.

There are also UNCONFIRMED rumours that the removal of the Horse Sand Fort barrier on the Portsmouth side is also being considered?

Regards Paul Costerton 22/03/05

Thanks Paul who owns yacht "Morangie Dawn" an American Morgan 38 centre cockpit sloop drawing 5' 2" with a wing keel kept on the River Hamble

For more on the sailing activities of Paul's group see Rallysail

Nomansland Fort 1970's

Nomansland Fort circa 1970 courtesy of The News, Portsmouth

No Mans Land Fort in 2003

Nomansland Fort now a private dwelling - Nice

During the war a boom was secured between Horse, Nomansland & the tiny St Helens Fort to prevent enemy ship & submarine entry

No Mans Land Fort 2003

Nomansland in June 2003 with its exclusive bungalow, gardens & converted & conservatory tower

No Mans Land Fort close up 2003

Nomansland commands superb views across the Mainland, the Island & both directions of the Solent

No Mans Land Fort 2003

Note the RiB (Rigid inflatable Boat) in it's Davit & the Isle-of-Wight in the background

Sky picture of No Mans Land Fort

Sold by the MoD to a property developer in 1986 for a sum said to be £300,000 Nomansland Fort is complete with lighthouse, three heli-pads, tennis court, swimming pool, gym & music room

Swimming Pool on No Mans Land Fort

Having spent between £1-£2 million on renovation with an asking price of £5.75 million in 1988 an offer of £4 million was refused

On the market again in 1992 the price fell to £2.5 million there were no takers

Dining Room on No Mans Land Fort

In June 1993 the price was again slashed to £950,000 for the 22 bed roomed fort, once home to 400 men & 49 seventy ton guns

Spit Sand Fort

Spit Sand Fort from the air, known as Spitbank in tourism circles is now privately owned & occupied in the summer season as a retreat

Spit Fort

Spit Fort undated courtesy of Portsmouth & Sunderland Newspapers

Spit Sand Fort Entry Arch

Entrance arch to Spit Sand Fort by Shelly Parker

Spitbank Fort Logo

Featured on BBC 1 TV as one of the seven wonders of the south

To visit take a water taxi from Gosport Ferry Pontoon then tour the gunrooms, sunbathe on the roof, lunch, stage your own private party or a regular Spit Roast Supper & DJ dance party

Spitbank is a mile off the coast, stay the night in the fabulous two storey refurbished lighthouse

Sky picture of Spitbank Fort

Privacy, peace & tranquility with unrivaled 360 degree views over the Solent, Portsmouth, South Hampton & the Isle-of-Wight

Free hand sketch of Solent waterFish animation

Solvent's 4 Forts sometimes known as "Palmestons' Follies" after the Newport Isle-of-Wight (IoW) MP who first became British PM in 1855. Lord Palmeston had existing & new forts modified & built in 1860 to protest Portsmouth after an act of parliament

St Helen's Fort

Excellent aerial photograph of St Helens Fort by Chris Brunnen of CJB Photography

Closest to the Isle-of-Wight & adjacent to the Benbridge Channel the Grade II listed Ancient Monument was built in 1870 at a cost of £123,311 constructed of mixed stone, granite blocks & concrete

Smallest of the 4 solent Forts it's just 135' in diameter, in private hands since 1982 it was up for sale in 2003 with a price tag of £200,000 but it needs some costly TLC, see inside St Helens Fort

There are some rooms on top, damp store rooms & passages below sea level at high tide, but at low water it has its own beach!

Planning permission for converting into a private dwelling was available making 3 floors comprising basement, gun deck & observation area, for a comprehensive see the history of the Solent Forts

Nab Tower not marked on chart above is nearest to Bembridge, "Blue" shows the main navigable channels into Portsmouth & between the mainland & the island

Find out more about Lord Palmeston

In the west Solent approach Hurst Castle guards the Needles Channel, there are more pictures of the Nab Tower & the Solent Forts in Afloat

Dizzy approaches Needles on Isle of Wight Entering the Needles Channel with 4 knots of tide running producing 10 knots over the ground

Dizzy on pile mooring

On a pile mooring at Bucklers Hard on the Beaulieu River

Sunrise over Christchurch

05.30 sunrise whilst at anchor in Christchurch harbour

With Poole Town Quay Marina staff Poole Town Quay, the marina staff being friendly & we'd only just arrived!

Seacat following us out of Poole

Sea Cat off Brownsea Island Poole - accompanying us out!

On deck off Beachy Head

Catching the rays off Beachy Head

RNLI sticker

The RNLI ensuring safety at sea

The pictures of Horse Sand Fort in 1969 from the Mike Bass collection

03/08/07 - Good website with some nice pix of the Solent Forts - Brian Huntley.

26/1/07 - Another good posting well done! Particularly interested in the Solent forts, Portsmouth being my place of birth. I went out to Spithead 20++ years ago when Billy Butlin was trying to buy them for a casino. Before his time as ever. John Ross-Barnard

Enjoy your sight it's very good, probably the best Solent Fort pictures I have seen. I went to Spitbank about 5 or 6 weeks ago. Beata Parsons

Superb pictures of the Solent forts make a nice radio base if a bit further off Gavin

I was looking at your website and I was wondering if you know if it is possible to gain access to Horse sand fort possibly to use as a film location. I notice that one can gain access to Spit sand Fort, but there is no information regarding Horse Sand fort. Yours, Fraser Jamieson

Horse Sands Fort has port radio & navigation aids on board access has been denied & the fort locked since the 1970's

Your best bet would be to approach the harbour authorities to see if they'd give permission to board - ED

First Class Isle-of-WHITE Stamp!

17th May 2007 - Post Office fopar The Royal mail issued 1st Class stamps of the Needles as part of the Glorious England Series

A major error was missed with the island's name misspell

Recalled the stamps have become collectable with examples selling for £700

The Royal Mail said " It's so rare we make a mistake of this magnitude & it's very embarrassing"

For all our nautical features navigate from Afloat

For Barge Sailing pictures navigate from Greta 1

For all Whitstable Harbour days boats & shipping navigate from Harbour Days

Join us on a Sailing Trip from the North Kent Coast see Boat Trips


[HOME] (c)Bob Le-Roi 2001