Page 2 - Bristol Defences
P. 2

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     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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