Page 18 - Hilsea Lines and Portsbridge
P. 18

Hilsea Lines and Portsbridge                                                                       Solent Papers No.4

         There was no rearward defence to the Lines and apart  The Railway entrance
         from a hedge and ditch, was completely open. Earth    This is situated in east centre curtain and consists of a
         ramps permitted wheeled artillery to be brought up onto  brick-lined single tunnel for two tracks, 58 feet long by
         the terreplein and in some cases they also acted as   25 feet wide by 18 feet high from the top of the
         traverses, protecting the rear of the casemates. The  trackbed. The roof is held up by slightly-bowed
         terreplein was interrupted with smaller traverses and  composite iron girders and above this is a protective
         expense magazines to protect the position from enfilade  layer of asphalt with an earth covering, eleven feet in
         immediate right survived intact until 1932, when it too Preview
         fire.                                                 thickness. In the last war a pillbox was built on top of
                                                               the tunnel, but this has now gone. No gates were fitted
         Double gateway (Hilsea Arches)                        and it is not clear if or how the tunnel was to be closed
         To allow the London Road to pass through the Lines at  off, during an attack. The northern portal is completely
         west curtain, two vehicular tunnels 60 feet long, 15 feet  plain, and the southern retaining wall is flanked by
         wide and 18 feet wide at the top of the arch, pierced the  casemates used solely as troop accommodation,
         rampart. On the outside they were closed by two-leaf  although the extreme western one was a Master
         studded oak doors, which swung back into recesses in  Gunner’s store. Unlike the casemates in the flanks of the
         the tunnel, when open. A third tunnel to the west of the  bastions, there was no provision for embrasures. Access
         other two was for pedestrians and this was only 8 feet  across the railway line was originally by means of a
         wide and 11 feet high, with a smaller two-leaf door at  level crossing, but this was obviously dangerous and in
         the northern end. The tunnel also led on to an orderly  the late nineteenth century a subway was provided for
         room and a store. The pedestrian tunnel emerged into an  pedestrians. No trace of either feature remains. The
         arcade at its southern end and on the east side a similar  terreplein is accessed by a flight of steps in the shape of
         arcade led to a soldiers’ room and another store. Behind  flying buttress on the west side of the railway and iron
         these rooms was a latrine with a flushing tank over.  railings are fitted to the top of the casemates.
         Further round towards the flanking battery was a small
         door opening on to a flight of steps that led up to the  Postern or Sallyport
         terreplein. The retaining wall at the northern end was  To allow the garrison to clear an enemy from the ground
         finished in polychrome brickwork with extensive       in front of the Lines, a sallyport or postern was let into
         corbelling and decorations of crosses, stars and bands,  west centre curtain. This is a small passageway a little
         mostly in black with simulated voussoirs executed in red  over 80 feet long, 6 feet wide and 8 feet high to the top
         and white brick. The southern end was only slightly   of the vault. Recesses open off this tunnel at 15 foot
         more restrained with similar mock voussoirs and the   intervals and are probably shelters for troops beating off
         Royal Cipher ‘VR’ with the numbers ‘18’ and ‘61’ (later  an attack on the tunnel itself. The northern end is closed
         crudely altered to ‘67’, presumably to cover the      off  by a two-leaf iron shod wooden door loopholed for
         embarrassment over the long completion period) added  musketry and when the doors are opened they swing
         to either side.                                       back into recesses in the tunnel wall. The southern end is
                                                               closed by outward-opening wooden doors set into a
         The base and parapet was completed in ashlar and the  concave retaining wall, which formed a place-of-arms.
         edge of the work was protected by a two-rail barrier.  Above the door is a lamp bracket.
         Above the centre of the arches, the terreplein was raised
         up some three feet to provided sufficient cover of earth  The Casemates
         and a traverse crowned the top. The interior of the   There were four batteries of ten guns and two of  five
         building was lit by oil lamps, with other lanterns    guns each handed, depending upon which flank of the
         between each portal. The soldiers’ guardroom was      bastion they were situated. The ten-gun batteries were
         converted into a fire engine house at a later date and the  angled by about 15° between casemates 5 and 6 to
         rear wall was partly demolished to accommodate the    increase the lateral range. Each battery is in two parts,
         appliance. Sadly all of this was destroyed in 1919 when  with a gun battery of linked casemates in the front, and
         the gateway was taken down. The gun battery to the    separate casemates at the rear at a slightly lower level,
                                                               for troop accommodation, each with its own fireplace.
         was almost all removed to allow for the building a  bus  Corrugated iron percussion screens separated the two
         garage.                                               parts and a wooden glazed screen above waist height,

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