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Victorian Forts                                         Portsmouth                     29





                                           Freshwater Redoubt




               Commenced          1855                                Armament
               Completed          1856
               Cost                  £                               Original 4 x 68pr. SB 3 x 8-inch SB How.
                                                                     1861 -1889 2 x 7-inch R.B.L. 2 x 64pr. R.M.L.
               Map Reference      SZ 345856                           3 x 8-inch S.B. How.
               Position           Isle of Wight / Freshwater Bay        1893 2 x 6pr. Q.F. (dismounted in RA charge)
                                                                     2 x 7-inch R.B.L. 2 x 64pr. R.M.L. 1 x 0.45MG
                                                                     1895-1898  2 x 6pr. Q.F. 2 x 64pr R.M.L. 1 x MG
               Type               Coast Battery & beach defence      1899 2 x 4.7-inch Q.F. (dismounted in RA charge)
                                                                     2 x 6pr. Q.F. 2 x 64pr R.M.L
               Ditch              Dry / Two land sides only          Mounted 1901 2 x 12pr.QF 2 x 6pr.QF 1 x MG
               Guns               6                                  Mounted 1902 2 x 6pr. QF Hochkiss 1 x MG
                                                                     1903  2 x 5-inch BL mobile    1916 - Nil
               Barrack Accom. 3 Officers  39 men (in caponier)       1917 2 x 15pr BLC on field carriages
               Present use        Now private residence.             1922 2 x 12pr.QF 12cwt
                                                                     Caponiers          1
               History            Practice battery for Golden Hill

                                                                     Counterscarp       None
               Disposal           Sold 1928
               Condition          Poor - Caponier derelict           galleries
               Access             Tea rooms only - Q.F. battery by
                                  arrangement                        Haxo casemates None
               Sources            Solent Papers No 2, Precis of
                                  correspondence prior to 1898                  Moncrieff Pits  None

               History and Description

                Freshwater Redoubt was constructed to defend Freshwater Bay, which was an good place to land troops in reasonable
                weather.  A deep, brick lined ditch protects the landward approaches whilst to the seaward steep cliffs make a frontal
                assault impossible. The redoubt is entered over a drawbridge, to the left of which a large two-storey caponier projects into
                the rampart to provide flanking fire along it. On a small parade in the centre of the fort  was constructed a barrack for
                Officers and NCOs. Twenty four men  were accommodated in the caponier which is entered via a long staircase down
                from the parade. This caponier is now an empty shell, the floors having collapsed. Beneath the western rampart are the
                shell and cartridge stores.

                The redoubt consists of a QF battery overlooking the bay and a four gun battery facing south.  The south battery was
                originally armed with smooth bore guns but was remodelled in 1871 for two 7-inch RBLs and two 64pr. RMLs. The
                64prs were originally firing through embrasures but were ‘blocked up’ to fire over the parapet in 1888. In 1889 the
                General Officer Commanding advised that an ironclad could easily silence Freshwater  Fort in its present state and then a
                landing could be effected to take the defences of the western entrance in rear. He proposed to mount new guns in extra
                emplacements on the Down but the Defence Committee did not agree. They stated that the only danger  to be
                apprehended at Freshwater was a landing and this could  be met by mounting two 6pr. QFs and 1 Machine gun in the
                lower battery. In consequence the lower east facing beach battery originally mounting 8-inch SB Howitzers was
                remodelled in 1891 for two 6pr. QF guns and a maxim machine gun. In 1893 the 7-inch RBLs were removed and the
                upper battery emplacements  1 and 4 were to be remodelled for 4.7-inch QFs, the present 64prs. being withdrawn, but the
                idea was abandoned in 1898. The upper battery became an instruction battery for the nearby Golden Hill Fort school of
                gunnery in 1900 using two 12 pr. and three 6pdr. QFs. An accident occurred with one in 1901 when a breech block blew
                out. In 1903 two 5-inch BL mobile howitzers were stored at the redoubt to defend the coastline. Only the lower battery
                was armed in the 1914-18 war. Two 12prs. were replaced with two 15 pdr. Ehrhardt field guns 1916-18. The fort was sold
                by the military in 1928. The barrack block was converted into a private residence in 1936. A new building used as a tea
                room was  added overlooking the southern rampart. The redoubt has been converted  for use as a residence with facilities
                for holiday flats and camping. It was put on the market for £3 Million in November 2016.




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