Page 11 - Hilsea Lines
P. 11

Hilsea Lines and Portsbridge                                                                       Solent Papers No.4

         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.
                                                               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.
         amounted to a figure of £10,064 18s 5¾d, which Preview
         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
         The first Lines, built in 1756-57, were little more than  fort was built in 1846 but demolished in 1858, and as it
         rudimentary earthworks of an irregular trace, the     was not required for the reconstructed Lines, all the
         rampart being only some 7 to 8 feet in height. At     surface works were destroyed. However, in 1899 the
         intervals, and not strangely, in the flank of the angles  railway track subsided into the redundant caponier and
         (there were no bastions, as such), were gun batteries,  the railway company were obliged to fill it in. The editor
         each raised some 3 to 4 feet above the terreplein. A wet  of the ‘Evening News’, William Gates, wrote of the this
         ditch was provided in front of the works, being fed from  being ‘loopholed to command a view of the sea’ and
         a sluice at each end of the Lines. This ditch was 15 to 20  thought that it dated from 1812.
         feet wide and six feet deep.
                                                               The Design of the Second Hilsea Lines
         The three principal gun batteries or prepared gun     Jervois appointed Lt.William Crossman to design the
         positions, were named after three Royal princes, from  details of the new Lines and the Gosport forts. He had
         west to east, Edward’s, William’s and Henry’s. Two    been involved with the planning of the Great exhibition
         smaller batteries covered the entrance and its outwork.  of 1851, was later to design the Portsdown Hill forts and
         There was only a single magazine, no provisions for   became Member of Parliament for Portsmouth in 1885.
         expense magazines being 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
         of the land owned by the Board was ‘let for the public  channel.
         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.
         to an estimate prepared in 1757, the costs for the Lines  Outworks were to be commanded by the main
                                                                ramparts which would also increase the
         included storehouses and magazines at a cost of £21,601  defensive power of the Lines and permit sorties to be
         3s 3¾d but allowing for £1,000 to gravel the parade and  made.

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