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Report - - Fort Gilkicker - June 2019 | Military Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Fort Gilkicker - June 2019



Rainey

Hilariously under-equipped since 1999.
28DL Full Member
#1
Hello lads.

Now this place I've been wanting to do for a while. It's local to me and is a break from the underground escapades we've been doing. No worries about getting stuck 60 feet underground with nothing but packets of Fridge Raiders to survive on. So we picked a day based on the weather forecast, grabbed our stuff and went... It still rained anyway. I've got a new camera too, so I've had a field day with this one.

THE HISTORY: Fort Gilkicker began construction under the order of Palmerston's defence commission in 1863, after the original defences in it's place (an auxiliary battery extending out from Fort Monckton) were deemed inadequate and in need of replacement. The fort itself was to be tasked with defending the western approach to Portsmouth harbour and the anchorage points at Spithead. A famous civil engineer, John T. Leather, oversaw construction of the fort after the original contractor failed, with construction being completed in 1871.
The fort at completion in 1871 was a semi-circular arc with 22 casemates, armed with 17 x 10-inch guns and 5 x 9-inch guns. The casemates themselves had some serious protection for the era: a 14ft granite wall and thick steel plates around the gun mounts. The roof also had open emplacements for 5 heavy guns: 3 x 11-inch guns and 2 x 12-inch guns (although the 12-inch guns were both removed in 1891). All guns fitted at the time were Rifled Muzzle Loaders. The casemates also contained rooms at the rear with beds for the gun crews. Magazines were constructed beneath the casemates for ammunition storage, with a multitude of lifts and shell passages to keep the casemates readily supplied. To the rear of the fort was the officer's barracks block, with rooms for multiple officers and their servants. On each end of the barracks block was an artillery store, with a shell filling lab on the western end. The fort also had two external buildings outside of the main entrance, an auxiliary artillery store and a workshop for repairs.
The fort's original armament and use was short lived. A complete refit of the fort was authorised in 1902, being completed in 1906. The roof was entirely reworked to accommodate 2 x 9.2-inch guns and 2 x 6-inch guns in more robust mountings. The granite wall was covered with an earth embankment, the casemates & magazines were heavily reworked to store ammunition and the barracks block was also rebuilt. This refit was even shorter lived, with Gilkicker, Browndown and Stokes Bay being deemed ineffective by the Own Committee in 1905. The fort's armament was fully removed in 1907 and the barracks block was converted into married quarters for Royal Engineers at Fort Monckton.
The fort did see use throughout both world wars, with a 3-inch Quick Firing AA gun placed in one of the former 9.2-inch gun mounts in 1916. During WW2, the fort was temporarily fitted with a 40mm Bofors AA gun, with a range-finding RADAR constructed outside of the fort to direct other nearby AA batteries. The Royal Signals also used the fort in the build-up to D-day.
Post war, the fort saw use as a RADAR and signalling station, primarily by the Navy for training. The fort was eventually stripped and emptied in 1995, with property developers putting the fort in their sights, however the redevelopment clearly has not started.

THE LOCATION: This fort is in varying levels of condition. The casemates and magazines are doing rather well, graffiti isn't too bad and even various parts of the metalwork intact, the ammunition lifts are also still in rather good condition, which I'm happy to see. That's about as good as it gets though. Vandals have kicked down the original fences around the stairways and the walkways. The roof is suffering from concrete cancer in places and literally anything metal on the roof is rusting to pieces, the stairs, metal beams and the structures around the batteries have all corroded badly and probably don't have long left. The RADAR tower still stands, but the hut next to it is now just a pile of ashes. The barracks block is a death trap, many floorboards are missing, the ceilings are coming down and the stairs... Oh God the stairs.
On the plus side, access was pretty easy for this one, although descending the embankment to get out is finicky at best, especially with coastal winds battering you.

THE EXPLORE: We went twice to this fort to get as many photos as we could. The first time was actually quite uneventful, with us just getting in to take our photos and then getting out, with a bit of rain in-between. The second time was where things got goofy. We came in to find 3 or 4 other teens messing around on the roof, so we went past them, kept a low profile and stayed in one of the casemates. That didn't really do much in the end, because one of them walked in on us, proceeding to turn back around and leave at quite some speed. I suppose we didn't exactly look very approachable, with our scary masks, boots and bags. The lot of them left shortly after. I took more photos and filmed videos whilst my mates decided to throw tins of food they'd discovered in the barracks block across the parade, and then it rained... Again. Compared to our previous explores, this was the most relaxed we'd been in a long time.

THE PHOTOS:

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What better way to start this than a brilliant sunset photo? With the fort included.

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The view from the eastern stairway. Sadly the banisters were kicked down on our second visit.

The casemates:

The casemates are rather interesting in this fort. The 1906 refit essentially split them all up, with concrete walls put in-between many of them as they were re-purposed for ammunition storage. Lots of metalwork still remains along with the ammunition lifts. One of them was also used to showcase the redevelopment, becoming a showroom of sorts.

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The first set of casemates we walked into. The concrete plinths in here are unique to this particular casemate. I do not know what their purpose was.

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As shown here, the original gun mounts have been bricked off at some point. These breeze blocks look a bit too modern to me.

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The swivel rails for the original RML guns are very prominent. Also note the concrete wall in the archway from the refit.


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This casemate was used as a showroom for the redevelopment. It's been smashed up and set on fire as of now.


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The ammunition conveyor. Judging by the width of it, this sent rounds up to one of the 6-inch guns on the roof.


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One of the ammunition lifts. This goes up from the magazines all the way up to the roof.


The magazines:

The magazines originally held ammunition for the guns in the casemates above. They're dark and pretty cramped in places, but by no means dangerous. This section I honestly know the least about.

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The main corridor through the magazine level.

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One of the old ammunition magazines, lightly flooded. There would have been floorboards, but they've disappeared as of now.

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The spiral stairs. I didn't dare go up these.

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The bottom of one of the ammunition lifts. The mechanisms are still intact and the original signage is still there. Nice to see.

The barracks block:

This building is honestly terrifying. The photos show just how bad the condition of this place is. It's also been occupied by a homeless person pretty recently by the looks of things. We found food cans dated for 2021, sleeping bags and the works.

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To say this room is trashed is a complete understatement.

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The incredibly terrifying stairs. These feel ready to go at any point.


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Of course I was going to do a corridor shot. Note the firing slits to the right for if the fort got surrounded.

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Seems like my torch made it into this one.


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One of the upstairs rooms with floorboards missing.


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One of the rooms at the end of the barracks. This room has seen better days.


The roof:

The roof sadly hasn't done too well against the elements, with rust everywhere, concrete cancer and even bushes growing in areas. However the gun batteries themselves are still in nice condition, and the RADAR tower still stands tall.

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One of the main gun batteries. This made for a lovely shot.

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Look at those massive bolts for the emplacement. Also look at two idiots in their natural habitat.


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Another one of the batteries. With a view. You can also spot the exit from that shell conveyor in the casemate below.


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The RADAR tower.


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I stand upon a forgotten monument.

More photos:

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The view from the main entrance.

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My mate's shot of the parade.


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Credit to my mate for this one.


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We are true aEsThEtIcIAnS.


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Goon squad assemble!

That's about it from me on this one. I'd say these photos have done this place more than enough justice. It's a shame it's been left to fall apart and not preserved, but that's just what happens nowadays, so I'm glad I got to see it for myself. Until next time lads.

- Rainey
 

Rachyt

Beauty isn’t always perfection
28DL Full Member
#4
Decent report, great pics!! When we went there were a load of teens up on the top bit throwing rocks down at us, started filming them doing it and they nearly started crying thinking we were going to the police with it :D
 

Calamity Jane

i see beauty in the unloved, places & things
Regular User
#6
Gotta love a fort. Some great photos there. Wouldnt mind seeing this, but that would mean a long road trip, but hey Ive done that before ;)
 

Rainey

Hilariously under-equipped since 1999.
28DL Full Member
#7
@Rachyt Damn. Really? I think the lot we came across thought we were going to stab them or something. They bolted pretty quick.

@Calamity Jane I'm glad I'm local to this one. It's rekindled my interest in Victorian stuff.

Glad everyone likes this. I wasn't expecting this much attention.
 

Chalkie31

Urbex Addict
28DL Full Member
#8
“ I took more photos and filmed videos whilst my mates decided to throw tins of food they'd discovered in the barracks block across the parade, and then it rained...“

I’m guessing the tins of food thrown by your mates across the parade belonged to the homeless guy living or who lived there recently? If the there was a bike propped against the wall I’m guessing he’s still there. Or he could have just popped out. Well done you and your mates for that one though!!

:thumb:banghead:wanker
 

tonymini145

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
#11
When we went we had a proper long chat with him for the life of me his name escapes me but he was actually sound and not hostile in the slightest would of happily of had a beer with him so you are a complete wan*er for destroying his food and shelter if that’s the case!
 

Rainey

Hilariously under-equipped since 1999.
28DL Full Member
#14
@mookster It wasn't the best, I will completely admit to that. Although we were pretty ticked off to find that all the banisters had been kicked down. We think the kids we scared off might have done that.
@Chalkie31 @tonymini145 Having been through all the videos I've got. We found his bedding and such, but we left it alone. A lot of the bags seemed to be empty though, it looks as if he could've left quite a while ago. If he is still there I might just bring a value pack of Baked Beans.
We all do stupid stuff sometimes. Guess that's a reminder for me really. I'm not willing to lose reputation over something my mates did whilst I was off filming.
 
Last edited:

Geeza1-2

28DL Member
28DL Member
#15
Cracking report @Rainey !

Although what his friends have done is disrespectful, there is no need to take it out on Rainey. It appears that Rainey and his friends are of decent enough age to decide what they can and can't do for themseleves, Rainey has little control over this.
 

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