Page 12 - IOW.dpd
P. 12

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               Type               Triangular Casemated Sea Battery        Withdrawn in 1872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.

   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17