Page 8 - Spithead Forts
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Victorian Forts                                             Portsmouth                       28

                                        No Man’s Land Fort

          Commenced            July 1861 & March 1865               Armament
          Completed            March 1880                           1886 - Mounted
          Cost                  £ 462,500                           Lower - 12 x 12.5-inch RML
          Map Reference        SZ 639938                            Upper - 12 x 10-inch RML
                                                                    1893 - Mounted
          Position             In the sea at Spithead, Eastern      Lower - 8 x 12.5-inch R.M.L, 4 x 12-inch B.L.
                                                                    Upper - 9 x 10-inch R.M.L. 4 x 12-inch B.L.
                               approaches to Portsmouth Harbour     1898 - Mounted
          Type                 Sea Fort, circular, casemated iron/granite  Lower - 8 x 12.5-inch R.M.L, 4 x 12-inch B.L 12 x 6pdr.QF Upper - 9
                                                                    x 10-inch R.M.L. 4 x 12-inch B.L. 12 x 6pdr.QF
          Ditch                None, in the sea                     1912 - Mounted
                                                                    3 x 6-inch BL guns, 3 x 12-inch BL (12-inch removed 1918)
          Guns                 49 in two tiers plus roof            1925 - Mounted
                                                                    Roof - 2 x 6-inch BL
          Barrack Accom. 5 Officers, 72 soldiers +                  1943 -45  Mounted
          Present use          hammocks High security               40mm Bofors 1948 & 1951 all remaining guns removed.
                               conference centre
          History              In active use by the military up to
          Disposal             1987 sold to a developer
          Condition            Restored/converted to modern use
          Access               By arrangement with Solent Forts

                               Solent Papers No 1 ‘Spitbank and the Spithead Forts’
          Sources              G. Mitchell and A. Cantwell    & ‘ The Redan’ No.28

          History and Description

           No Man’s Land Fort is identical in most respects to its twin, Horse Sand Fort and the description for that fort will suffice also for No
           Man's Land. Minor difference in the armaments of the two forts reflected their different positions in the eastern approaches to the
           harbour. Various proposals were made and tests carried out to find a more efficient method of loading and firing the heavy guns. In July
           1877 tests were carried out on hydraulic machinery for loading and firing one of the 12.5-inch 38-ton guns. An average time over four
           rounds from load to ready was 2 minutes 11 seconds. In July 1880 the Inspector General of Fortifications declared  No Man's Land and
           Horse Sand Forts to be complete and satisfactory works, but unarmed. The lower batteries had been completed for the 12.5-inch gun
           but the supply of guns and racers had been postponed pending the possibility of the introduction of a BL gun. In 1882 the armament
           was revised to allow for four 12-inch 45-ton BL guns on each tier. In 1886 mounted on No Man's Land Fort were twelve 12.5-inch
           38-ton guns and twelve 10-inch 18-ton guns, all bearing on the deep-water channel. It was reported that none of the 38-ton guns could
           be fired with full service charges because the shorter 6ft. recoil carriage had to be used owing to the lack of space. In May 1887 eight
           emplacements for the 45-ton BL guns on No Man's Land Fort were proposed but were said to be in a backward state.  Between 1889
           and 1895, on No Man's Land Fort experiments were carried out to operate the 12-inch guns by hydraulic machinery. Under the
           supervision of Maguire Bates, Inspector of Iron Structures, machinery was installed that could supply power for raising ammunition
           from the basement and loading it into the gun. Traversing and elevating was also achieved hydraulically, making it the  first Fort in
           England, perhaps Europe to utilize hydraulic or other power for such a purpose. It was also the first to be lighted throughout by
           electricity. By 1898 6pdr. QF guns were added to the main armament. In 1902 a 4.7-inch QF gun was installed on top of the Fort as an
           examination gun. A 1906 inspection revealed that No Man's Land Fort had only one of the three proposed 6-inch guns mounted. By
           1925 two 6-inch guns were still in place. In 1943  it was armed with a 40mm bofors which was removed in 1945. The fort was
           scheduled as an Ancient monument in 1967 and was finally released by the military in 1987.

           No Man’s Land Fort was bought by a developer who converted it into a luxury residence but failed to find a millionaire buyer. It was
           next owned by a business consortium who had plans to convert it to a high security conference centre.  This scheme failed and in 2012
           Clarenco, who converted Spitbank Fort to a luxury retreat, announced that they had purchased No Man’s Land Fort. It has been restored
           and converted to modern use with the development of 30 bedrooms, a sauna, various games rooms, and several meeting and dining
           spaces. All three forts form  the “Solent Forts” and access to No Man’s Land Fort is by boat from Gun Wharf Quays at Portsmouth. In
           2019 Clare put all three of his Solent Forts back on the market.

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