Page 10 - Portsdown Defences
P. 10

Victorian Forts                                             Portsmouth                       10

                                              Fort Purbrook

          Commenced            1862                                 Armament
          Completed            1870
          Cost                  £ 135000                            1876  Approved 42 x 7-inch RBL; 1 x 64 pr.
                                                                    RML; 12 x SB flank guns
          Map Reference        SU 678065                            1893 Mounted 7 x 7-inch RBL; 1 x 4-inch BL; 7 x
          Position             Portsdown Hill / Northern            64 pr. RML; 4 x 40 pr. RBL; 4 x 8-inch RML
                               Approaches                           Howitzers; 5 x 32pr. SBBL.
          Type                 Land Front / Polygonal               Required to complete 2 x 40pr. RBL; 6 x 32 pr.
          Ditch                Dry                                  SBBL (fixed amm conv.)
                                                                    1898 to be added 1 x MG
          Guns                 78                                   Disarmed 1907
          Barrack Accom. 227
          Present use          Portsmouth Youth Activities
          History              Army barracks / Naval Radar          Caponiers           1 full 1 demi
                               training to 1968
          Disposal             Sold to Portsmouth City 1969         Counterscarp        (2 ditch galleries)
          Condition            Partly restored                      galleries
          Access               Open  Summer weekends  to public
                                                                    Haxo casemates none
          Sources              Solent Papers No 3  Garry Mitchell
                                                                    Moncrieff Pits      3

          History and Description

           Purbrook occupies the east end of the defensive line on Portsdown Hill. It is 2,400 yards east of Fort
           Widley and it built on a seven sided trace.  Because of its position on the flank of the hill it was
           constructed to bring more firepower to bear on the north-eastern approaches and its north-east salient
           is protected by a full caponier with a large five-bay mortar battery behind.  The western ditch is
           protected by a demi caponier whilst the minor branches of the ditch are covered by musketry
           galleries crossing the ditch. A central spiral stair leads from the parade to the underground service
           tunnels from the caponiers and barrack.  The main magazine is off a side tunnel from the central
           spiral stair. The passages are the only ones in the Portsmouth defences to be equipped with chicanes.
           The vulnerability of the fort to its northeast and east led to the construction of two outposts to the
           fort, Crookhorn and Farlington redoubts. Access to both redoubts was originally to have been
           through tunnels from Purbrook. Also a covered way led to Crookhorn Redoubt. The barrack block
           and redan at Purbrook are almost identical to those at Fort Nelson. The caponiers seem to have been
           used for experiments in the use of iron to cover gun ports and the fort is cited in a lecture  to the
           Royal United Services Institute by Jervois on ‘The Application of Iron to Fortification’.

           During World War Two the fort seems to have been derelict until the 65th. Chemical Warfare
           Company moved in in June 1940.

           Purbrook is now owned by Portsmouth City Council and is used for youth activities. It is largely
           intact and in a good state of conservation.

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