Page 12 - Bristol Defences
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Victorian Forts                                             Portsmouth                       33

                         Fort Victoria (Sconce Point Battery)

          Commenced            1852                                 Armament
          Completed            1855
          Cost                  £                                   Original armament
                                                                         10 x 68pr. SB western,
          Map Reference        SZ 339898                                 11 x 10-inch SB shell guns northern,
          Position             Isle of Wight / West                      6 x 32pr. SB on each barrack roof
                                                                    1861  3 x 7-inch RBL salient casemates
          Type                 Triangular Casemated Sea Battery          Withdrawn in 1872
          Ditch                Wet                                       3 x 7-inch RBL 8 x 10-inch S.B.
                                                                         10 x 68pr. 12 x 32pr.
          Guns                 33                                        Proposed 13 x 64pr. R.M.L.
          Barrack Accom.                                            1876 Disarmed
          Present use          Sea facing casemates remain, part
                               aquarium, tea room and shop.
          History              Infantry barracks. Submarine
                               mining depot
          Disposal             Vacated by Army 1962
          Condition            Partly demolished 1969
          Access               Open to the public all year round

          Sources              Solent Papers No 2,
                               Precis of correspondence prior to 1898

          History and Description

           The same invasion scare of  the 1840s that led to the construction of Fort Albert resulted in the construction of Fort
           Victoria on Sconce point to cover the deep water channel. The original plans called for two casemated batteries meeting at
           an obtuse angle, the flanks terminating in square towers and a loopholed wall closing the fort off to the rear. Again money
           dictated another plan and the resultant triangular fort was complete by 1855. The two seaward casemated batteries meet at
           a right angle with the flanks refused to protect against enfilade. The gun casemates had open upper portions to allow
           enemy shell fire to pass through rather than cause it to burst inside injuring the gun crews. A broad parados stood behind
           the casemates to protect the inner barracks which closed off the gorge. An earthen glacis protected the front of the sea
           facing casemates. This sloped down to a wet ditch which protected the fort against infantry attack. The rear of the fort
           was closed by two barrack blocks each of two storeys joined by a loopholed wall with the entrance in the middle fitted
           with a portcullis and drawbridge.  Six 32pr. SB guns on traversing platforms mounted on each barrack roof could fire
           seawards over the top of the lower casemated sea batteries. Additional gun ports facing seawards were sited on the upper
           floors of each barrack but were never armed. The fort was briefly armed with an additional three 7-inch R.B.L.s  but in
           1872 the Defence Committee recommended that the fort be dismantled The fort was disarmed in 1876 when it had
           become increasingly used purely as a barracks. The Royal Engineers took over the fort in that year and it was converted
           into a submarine mining depot, the casemates were used for storing sea mines. The parados was removed and buildings
           added as offices. A tramway was constructed allowing loaded mines to be run out to the pier for placing on mine-laying
           boats. The north ditch was filled with cable tanks and a test room was built into the hillside. An experimental sea-saw
           searchlight pit was fitted west fo the fort in 1888. Three searchlights were added in 1898-99 to illuminate the minefield.
           The Royal Engineers left in 1920 and the fort was placed in care and maintenance. It was use as a store for towed targets
           for the nearby practice batteries in 1939. From 1941-43 it served as a barracks for the 72nd. Coast Training Regiment,
           R.A. It also served for various  units training prior to D -Day. The fort was relinquished by the army in 1962 and the local
           council demolished the barracks completely  in 1969. Only the seaward casemates survive.

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