Page 6 - Portsdown Defences
P. 6

Victorian Forts                                             Portsmouth                       8

                                             Fort Southwick

          Commenced            1861                                 Armament
          Completed            1870
          Cost                  £ 94262                             1876  Approved
                                                                    35 x 7-inch RBL
          Map Reference        SU 628069                            10 x rifled Howitzers
          Position             Portsdown Hill / Northern            20 x SB flank guns
                               Approaches       Land Front /        1893 Mounted
          Type                 Polygonal                            8 x 7-inch RBL
          Ditch                Dry                                  9 x 64 pr. RML
                                                                    6 x 8-in Howitzers
          Guns                 78                                   Required to complete
          Barrack Accom. 226                                        6 x 64pr RML
          Present use          Recently released by M.O.D.          8 x 32 pr. SBBL (fixed amm conv.)
          History              Army then Navy Barracks              Caponiers           1 full 2  demi

                                                                    Counterscarp        (1 ditch gallery)
          Disposal             Soon, when developer is found
          Condition            Altered for modern usage.  Good      galleries
          Access               No public access. Rear can be
                               viewed from road                     Haxo casemates none
          Sources              Solent Papers No 3  Garry Mitchell
                                                                    Moncrieff Pits      2

          History and Description

           Fort Southwick is 2,400 yards east of Fort Nelson. It is one of two central forts designed to house a
           larger complement of men in an inverted U shaped barrack block in the centre of the gorge. It is
           similar in trace to Fort Widley, apart from one minor deviation to the ditch and rampart at the
           southwest corner. Its ditch is revetted on the scarp and counterscarp in brick and flint. It has one full
           caponier at its main north salient with two smaller demi caponiers at the shoulders. A small musketry
           gallery crosses the ditch at the south west angle to cover a minor branch of the ditch. Behind the
           demi caponiers and set into the rampart are mortar batteries for five mortars each. The rampart has
           positions for the usual armament of 64 pr RMLs, 7-inch RBLs and 8-inch howitzers. A central spiral
           stair from the parade allows communication with the four main tunnels running of it radially. These
           lead to the barrack block and caponiers with stairs to the mortar batteries and chemin de ronde. Off
           the tunnel from the barrack to the north caponier is the main magazine. Southwick occupies the high
           point of the hill and held the water storage tanks for the other forts, feeding them through a brick
           lined aqueduct. This, despite rumours to the contrary, was the only connection between the forts.
           During World War Two Southwick served as a H.Q. for Allied Commanders. (1943  for Canadian
           and U.S. Forces). From 1938 to 1940 it held a section of the Ordnance Survey. A large complex of
           underground bunkers and command positions were excavated beneath the Victorian tunnels. Until
           recently it was occupied by the Navy (as H.Q.  and offices for C. in C. Home Fleet) and is largely
           intact. It was purchased in July 2003 by ‘Fort Southwick Company Limited’ who are using it for
           storage of equipment and military vehicles. They have let out the WWII underground complex  for
           private use.

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