Page 18 - Hilsea Lines
P. 18

Hilsea Lines and Portsbridge                                                                       Solent Papers No.4

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

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