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Report - St Helens Fort, Isle of Wight - August 16

Discussion in 'Military Sites' started by b3n, Aug 22, 2016.

  1. b3n

    b3n onehundredandthirtythree
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    The alarm went off at 5am on a Sunday. I'd had about 20 minutes sleep and couldn't decide if I was hungover or still drunk. I wasn't very happy.

    The aim of the day, and reason for the alarm clock, was St Helens Fort - one of four sea forts built in the Solent waters to protect the naval dockyards at Portsmouth and the related anchorages off the Isle of Wight.

    The fort is accessible by foot only a few days a year. At extreme spring tides a causeway used to transport building materials is uncovered and a few thousand people flock to the beach to walk to the fort and back in some kind of unofficial local event.

    We'd chosen the tide before this spring tide to avoid the crowds and give us a good chance of getting on top of the fort, even if it did mean a 5am start.

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    (photo by Nickturbo4000)

    Getting out of the van to a sunrise and view of the fort was kinda worth the early start and I met up with the others to prep cameras and get ready. The walk is about a mile each way and as we were setting off early we knew we'd be getting wet. We wanted to be the first there to avoid spectators as we climbed the ladder but as we started finding our way a few people began to follow.

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    After about half an hour we reached the fort and climbed the ladder, negotiating the spiked ladder gate we clambered on top of the fort.

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    It didn't take long to find a way into the fort. The fort was built between 1867 and 1880 to protect the anchorage at St Helens as there was no suitable ground for a land based defense. There were issues with the foundations leading to less guns than originally planned being installed and eventually the defense committee settled on 1 38 ton gun and 2 18 ton guns. The 18 ton guns were fitted into casemates with the 38 behind an armored shield between them. The basement housed the cartridge and shell stores.

    38 ton gun tracks behind the shield:
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    18 ton casemate, the guns were placed on rotating turntables:
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    The lower floor is a maze of semi flooded passageways:
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    The fort was last sold in 2003 and as you can see some renovation work is in progress but looks to be slow.
    After around 45 minutes we left the fort the way we came and waded back to dry land.

    [​IMG]

    Check the awesome video Nickturbo4000 produced of our trip:
     
    the126, ultravox, Techwreckie and 8 others like this.

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  2. scotty markfour

    scotty markfour 28DL Regular User
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    excellent report n informative pics ! well done lads
     
  3. TheTimeChamber

    TheTimeChamber The other one
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    That's a great report!
     
  4. Benyy

    Benyy 28DL Full Member
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    Brilliant report mate
     
  5. Shatners

    Shatners Silly Bugger
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    Top job lads..looks like the renovations coming on as well
     
  6. MrGlasses

    MrGlasses 28DL Full Member
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    Great Report and photos
     
  7. tirpitz

    tirpitz Toy Car Racer
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    i've aways been intrigued by these places, thanks for thr report. Epic sunrise pic & the video shows there is much more inside them than you would imagine.
    top marks dude :thumb
     
  8. Oxygen Thief

    Oxygen Thief Admin
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    I don't recall seeing this before?

    Nice work !
     
  9. Techwreckie

    Techwreckie 28DL Regular User
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    Great job, when I was a kid I would always see those from the ferry to the IOW and wish I could get inside
     
  10. b3n

    b3n onehundredandthirtythree
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    Thanks guys, yea think we were the first to explore and photograph, had been on my list for years but after a recky to look at the ladder last year we finally got around to it!

    Of the other sea forts 2 are now posh hotels and one is being preserved.. It's much further out so is a boat mission but we'll get it ticked off that bucket list somewhen!
     
  11. Rik UE

    Rik UE 28DL Regular User
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    Thats nice that is, great report!
     
  12. canute

    canute 货车司机和国王
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    Nice work and great report :cool:
     
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