Page 5 - Fort Gilkicker
P. 5

Fort Gilkicker                                                                                  Solent Papers No.5


           Location                                           ‘Hasilworth’ seems to change to ‘Gill Kicker’ or
           (Grid reference SZ606975) Fort Gilkicker stands on  ‘Gilkicker’ point after the erection of these sea
           the the beach at the west end of Stokes Bay at     marks. Daniel Defoe wrote in 1724 of  ‘the point of
           Gosport in Hampshire. It is clearly visible from the  land on the side of Gosport which they call Gilkicker
           Bay as the position it occupies dominates the safe  where also they have two batteries’. It is safe to
           water anchorage of Spithead in the Solent. It can be  assume that Gilkicker gained its name from the sea
           visited by travelling along Fort Road at the eastern  mark and not the other way round.
           end of Stokes Bay, Gosport and turning seawards
           down an approach road through the golf course to the  The early defences of Stokes Bay
                              Preview
           rear of the fort. The fort is not open to visitors at  There were many early proposals to build some form
           present but it is possible to walk around the outside  of defence works at ‘STOAKS’ Bay. A report by
           and climb the earth banks surrounding it to view the  Talbot Edwards in 1707-08 recommends that
           interior                                           ‘...seaven platforms and  redoubts be built there from
                                                              Gilkicker westwards with lines of communication
           The origins of Gilkicker                           between to cover from the shipps in relieving the
           As early as the fifteenth century Portsmouth Harbour  forts.’ The pre 1815 defences of Portsmouth allowed
           was an important safe refuge for ships of the Navy  ships to approach close to Portsmouth Harbour and
           patrolling the Channel. It contained a dockyard and  Stokes Bay had always been a possible landing place
           arsenal. Spithead provided one of the chief        for an enemy force. In July 1779, Col. Monckton had
           anchorages of the Empire. It was recognised that   advised that a defensive line should be constructed
           Portsmouth and its harbour had to be defended from  along the bay and several earthen batteries (six) had
           possible attack by land and by sea. The fortifications  been constructed along the bay from Browndown
           on the Portsmouth side were of a much more         Point to Gilkicker Point between 1782 and 1783.
           extensive nature than those on the western side at  They overlooked Stokes Bay marshes and provided
           Gosport as the Naval base was situated on the eastern  gun platforms  and although they were referred to as
           side. As the fortifications grew over the years it was  the Stokes Bay ‘Redoubts’ they were not capable of
           recognised that both sides of the harbour had to be  defending themselves and five of them received
           protected. By the sixteenth century both sides of the  armament in 1795. Three temporary redoubts were
           harbour mouth had fortifications to prevent an enemy  also built but abandoned by 1783. Various proposals
           running into the harbour and attacking the dockyard  for a new fort at Stokes Bay were considered but
           itself. On the Portsmouth side was built Southsea  rejected including one in 1782 for a large pentagonal
           Castle and on the Gosport side Haselworth Castle   fort to be constructed in the vicinity of the present
           was constructed on Gilkicker Point. These two forts  Bay House. By 1820 five of the redoubts survived.
           were part of the scheme of fortifications proposed by  An engineer, Major John Archer, reported in 1773 on
           King Henry VIII in his effort to protect his Southern  the strength of the Gosport Defences as part of the
           shores. Haselworth Castle is first mentioned in 1545  overall defence of Portsmouth Harbour. He
           and by 1588 rumour has it that the castle was a    recommended the demolition of the Gill Kicker
           crumbling ruin. In 1669 two sea marks were built by  tower when an attack was imminent and its
           Robert, Earl of Warwick who was Parliamentary      replacement with a wooden one so placed to lure the
           Admiral to Charles the First. One stood at the side of  enemy ships using it as a guide onto the Warner and
           Haselworth Castle and was know as the Gill-Kicker  Norman Sands.
           whilst the other stood further inland at the end of
           Clayhall Road near Alverstoke Church and was       In 1779, as a consequence of the American War of
           known as the Kicker-Gill. Both were triangular in  Independence and a threat of invasion from France
           plan and were built of stone but were heightened in  and Spain, the western side of Portsmouth harbour
           the 18th. century with additions in brick. They were  was examined and found to be virtually without
           to be used in conjunction with each other to find the  defence. In this year an invasion attempt by France
           safe water passage into Portsmouth Harbour and are  and Spain was defeated by lack of planning and
           not to be confused with the present measured-mile  sickness and the force retreated without coming
           markers which can be seen at Browndown and         anywhere near to their objective of a landing at
           Gilkicker. The Kicker-Gill was pulled down in 1965.  Stokes Bay. On 13th August 1779, Lt. General
           The origin of the names are unknown but the point at  Monckton, the Governor of Portsmouth, ordered his


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