Page 11 - Hilsea Lines and Portsbridge
P. 11

Hilsea Lines and Portsbridge                                                                       Solent Papers No.4

         palisades, completed in wood. Armament consisted of   to an estimate prepared in 1757, the costs for the Lines
         twelve six-pounder guns mounted on platforms and      amounted to a figure of £10,064 18s 5¾d, which
         firing through embrasures with the spaces between the  included storehouses and magazines at a cost of £21,601
         guns being protected by earth merlons. Costs for the  3s 3¾d but allowing for £1,000 to gravel the parade and
         reconstructions came to £1,431.4.4d. In 1748, a further  to construct extra accommodation for 400 men, the cost
         sum of £777.11.7 was estimated for the rebuilding of the  rose to £25,301 3s 3¾d.
         barracks and magazine.
         of the land owned by the Board was ‘let for the public Preview
                                                               Hilsea Redoubt
         Although the fort was designed for landward defence   This was built by the London & Brighton Railway Co.
         from the north, provision for defending the southern  to the design of the Board of Ordnance and was of
         approaches, was also made. The rampart was continued  regular trace, with four bastions and two demi-bastions.
         around the side facing Portscreek and a small outwork  There were no casemates but thirty-six embrasures were
         was thrown up to protect the southern end of the single  let into the parapet for light guns. The railway line was
         stone-arched Portsbridge. Later, with the building of the  carried over Portscreek on a wooden viaduct and
         Hilsea Lines, this southward facing defence was       brought through the Lines on a drawbridge. Under the
         abandoned, as being not only unnecessary but actually  bridge was a caponier, loopholed for musketry, six to the
         dangerous, since it could be used by an enemy in      north and six on either side, with a further ten set into
         possession of the bridgehead fort.                    the access passage, which came up into the parade. The
                                                               fort was built in 1846 but demolished in 1858, and as it
         The first Lines, built in 1756-57, were little more than  was not required for the reconstructed Lines, all the
         rudimentary earthworks of an irregular trace, the     surface works were destroyed. However, in 1899 the
         rampart being only some 7 to 8 feet in height. At     railway track subsided into the redundant caponier and
         intervals, and not strangely, in the flank of the angles  the railway company were obliged to fill it in. The editor
         (there were no bastions, as such), were gun batteries,  of the ‘Evening News’, William Gates, wrote of the this
         each raised some 3 to 4 feet above the terreplein. A wet  being ‘loopholed to command a view of the sea’ and
         ditch was provided in front of the works, being fed from  thought that it dated from 1812.
         a sluice at each end of the Lines. This ditch was 15 to 20
         feet wide and six feet deep. The three principal gun  The Design of the Second Hilsea Lines
         batteries or prepared gun positions, were named after  Jervois appointed Lt.William Crossman to design the
         three Royal princes, from west to east, Edward’s,     details of the new Lines and the Gosport forts. He had
         William’s and Henry’s. Two smaller batteries covered  been involved with the planning of the Great Exhibition
         the entrance and its outwork. There was only a single  of 1851, was later to design the Portsdown Hill forts and
         magazine, no provisions for expense magazines being   became Member of Parliament for Portsmouth in 1885.
         made until 1853.                                      Portscreek, with a depth of seven feet of water was a
                                                               natural obstacle at high tide, but at low water, it would
         London Road passed through Portsbridge fort, crossed  be possible for an enemy to cross it and attack the Lines.
         over Portscreek and turned to enter the Lines through an  It was therefore necessary to make it wider and deeper
         outwork and then through the Lines proper. It is      and to straighten it. The material excavated would be
         believed that the original gateway was fairly simple, but  used to build the ramparts and as an added safeguard,
         was replaced by a more classical stone archway in the  dams would be constructed at either end to make the
         early years of the nineteenth century, described by the  creek non-tidal. These would be in the form of skeleton
         contemporary Henry Slight as being of  ‘Grecian       coffer-dams and would only be filled with earth in time
         character’. In 1830, the trustees of the turnpike road  of war. The trace of the Lines was dictated by the
         were given permission to construct sallyports and     following :
         footpaths through the Lines, by the Board of Ordnance.  They should be free, as much as possible from enfilade
         All the countryside around the Lines was rural and much  They should provide heavy flanking fire over the
         benefit’ which was a convenient way of keeping the     They should protect the dams at each end of the
         grass cut and also brought in extra revenue. According  channel and the railway and road bridges.

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