Page 11 - Spitbank and the Spithead Forts
P. 11

Spit Bank and the Spithead Forts                                                                Solent Papers No.1

                                                                Spit Bank Fort in 1938


         This room was used as a signal store in recent times, the  position finding cells, a Battery Commander’s post and a
         kitchen having been moved to the gun floor. Past these  submarine minefield directing station. Two
         two rooms, through an iron gate, is the stores area - the  emplacements for quick-firing guns were built here. The
         Royal Engineers’, coal and artillery general stores. At  gun positions remain but the accessory works were
         the back of one of these rooms is the entrance to a “bolt  demolished in 1906-7 when the 6-inch guns were
         passage”. This passage, which is only about two and a  installed. One 6-inch emplacement was later protected
         half feet wide, runs right round the fort and was     against air attack. The large building on the roof is the
         provided in case it became necessary to add iron armour  old battery observation post. The lighthouse, which
         to the lower part of the fort. The armour was never fitted  dates from 1938, stands above. A loading gantry is
         but one of the holes was used to bring a submarine    suspended over the entrance door to the fort. Part of the
         telephone cable into the fort. There was a small penstock  traveller is still there but the hand-operated winch is
         chamber on the extreme right of the passage. The      missing.
         penstock controlling the flow of waste water from the
         fort, seems never to have been fitted.                Searchlights
                                                               Searchlights (also known as Defence Electric Lights)
         The other basement door opens into the magazine and   were first fitted in 1899. One light was housed in a small
         appears to have been used only for loading ammunition  custom-made building next to the soldiers’ latrine
         into the magazine. The normal entrance (which is no   outside the fort. This was reached by a rather precarious
         longer used) was by the steps next to the officer’s latrine  walkway. The other light was inside the fort and shone
         and through a shifting lobby where the magazine       through embrasure G3. Two Crossley 25 horsepower oil
         workers changed into special ammunition clothing, a   engines with belt-driven dynamos were installed by a
         measure meant to prevent combustible material entering  Portsmouth contractor, Mr W. Wigginton. These
         the magazine. Beyond a rope curtain lay the cartridge  emplacements were superseded by the existing ones in
         store. Illumination was from an overhead light passage  1906-7. A third engine is believed to have been added
         at mezzanine level, equipped with a small railway to  then. In 1941 all three were replaced with Lister diesel
         service the oil lamps.                                generators, three of 22 kilowatt for the searchlights and
                                                               one of 12 kilowatt for domestic use. The fuel was stored
         Roof Level                                            in five sixty-gallon tanks above the engine, with a
         A cast iron staircase leads from courtyard to roof, where  reserve of twelve six-hundred gallon tanks. Three 90
         the only original features were the lighthouse,       centimetre projectors were installed - No.1 in the lower
         ventilators and chimneys. On either side of the stairs  fighting light position, No.2 in the upper and No.3 in old
         were lookout positions, which were replaced in 1898 by  gun position No.4.

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