Report - - Hilsea Lines (Bastion 5), Portsmouth - January 2020 | Military Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Hilsea Lines (Bastion 5), Portsmouth - January 2020


Hilariously under-equipped since 1999.
28DL Full Member
Hello lads, another annoyingly late report from yours truly, this time on a place I've done once before, I bring to you:

A marvel, overshadowed.


My previous report on this location was May of 2017. This place hasn't been reported often, and is in a rather forgettable location, it's sad to see it in such neglect. I've known this place since before my urban exploration days. I appreciate history far more than I did in my early teens, and I hope I can do this place justice.

THE HISTORY: The history of Hilsea Lines goes way back, all the way back to the 1750s with early moats and ramparts (History can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hilsea_Lines). However, the current Victorian lines that stand today, started construction in 1858, finishing in 1871. These lines were originally built to defend Portsmouth from an invading force coming over Portsdown hill, with numerous bastions covering all angles of attack, multiple moats and ramparts, as well as heavily fortified road and rail bridges that would've been absolute hell for an enemy to cross.
Things didn't pan out as planned however, advances in artillery technology made the lines technically obsolete before their completion. An enemy army could easily avoid even having to assault the lines and simply shell the city and the naval base from behind Portsdown hill. The lines were overshadowed by various Palmerston forts built along the hill, and their importance decreased.
However, this didn't see the lines fall out of use. In 1886, the casemates and various concrete mountings atop the ramparts were equipped with a mix of 7-inch Rifled Muzzle Loading and Rifled Breech Loading guns. The armament wasn't removed until 1903. The lines did also see minor use during the World Wars, with a QF 6-pounder Hotchkiss gun being mounted on the lines during WW1, and a small number of guns (Likely machine-guns and/or 40mm Bofors guns) being mounted along the lines during WW2.
In 1932, the eastern lines were demolished to make room for Portsmouth Airport. Post-war, the lines began to see civilian use, as housing estates moved closer and closer to the southern side of them.
As of today, bastion 1 is owned and used by Portsmouth Grammar School, bastion 3 is believed to be an indoor rifle range, bastion 4 is used as a commercial recording studio and bastion 6 is a WW1 museum.
This leaves us at Bastion 5, which remains abandoned.

THE LOCATION: Bastion 5 is in a slightly difficult location, finding it requires you to walk over the top of the lines and venture through the narrow woodland paths, as well as get smacked in the face by various branches. Overgrown doesn't even begin to cover this place.
Not much has actually changed since my last visit in 2017, apart from the new bars added at what used to be the primary point of access, and some of the overgrowth possibly being cleared along the bastion itself, at least the Council still knows it exists.
Back in 2017, the graffiti didn't annoy me nearly as much, but now it's a different story. There's a lot of it, inside and outside, of varying uhhh... Rudeness. Brickwork has been smashed up, fires set in smaller rooms, not to mention natural decay.
The place at least still feels pretty grand inside, with the long, open tunnel and it's many gun positions and casemates either side.

THE EXPLORE: This one was much more light-hearted, compared to our endeavours in the previous months. It's a place me, my mates and many others all know. A bonus for me, since my navigational skills aren't exactly something to be proud of. It was a pretty cold day, and daylight was scarce, but we still managed to spend around an hour in here. We all agree on one thing, the place is a complete mess.



These stairs lead up to the ramparts above the bastion. These used to be barely visible in the overgrowth.


This is how I got into the lines in 2017, the bars had completely fallen down.

On the way out, I had a moment of pure genius. Climbing up and standing on one of the brick partitioning walls to get a better view of the main gallery. I quickly learned how terrible my balance was.



The casemates:

The casemates in bastion 5 are in varying levels of condition. All of them are protected by corrugated sheet metal, presumably to stop pieces of brick, concrete and metal flying into the casemates in the event of a direct hit on the gun emplacements. Some casemates still have wooden fittings left.



More of the main gallery:




Some of the gun swivel rails still exist.


The ammunition magazine:

The magazine is located on the eastern side of the bastion, alongside another smaller room. An observation hatch/window allows you to look in from the main gallery (Unfortunately I didn't photograph it). This magazine always seems to smell of gas, it did in 2017, and it still does now.


The main magazine, lots of brickwork is scattered across the floor here. We couldn't figure out where it might have came from.



The smaller room linked to the main magazine.


Possibly a two-stage door to get into these rooms.

On the way out:


Original metalwork on the walls. I presume shelving brackets.


We also found this tunnel, opposite the main bastion. This presumably was some kind of sally-port.

The tunnel has been clearly modified, with newer brickwork and a concrete doorway added down the tunnel. We also found a small sideroom in here, I'm unsure on it's purpose.



That's about it for this one lads. I'm glad I could return to this place and do it much more justice than my previous report. Hilsea Lines is a bit of Victorian history right on my doorstep, and I personally find it a travesty that the council has just slapped Iron bars all over it and left it to be forgotten.

Here's to some good explores once lockdown ends, as this is the last of my planned reports out of the way. The report I planned on Langdon is just too old now.

- Rainey


Bally up!
Regular User
Nicely done! No report is too old though - if you have enough photos for a report then get one up I say!

Calamity Jane

i see beauty in the unloved, places & things
Regular User
Looks like an interesting explore. I do like bastions & forts in general. Nicely covered :thumb