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Report - Portsdown Main-Portsmouth-June 2010


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Well... here it is, something happened to the last thread. Hopefully it'll stay this time. This place is amazing. Huge amount of underground tunnels leading to what we think is the current ASWE site, but who knows.

Portsdown Main is an impressive 'art deco' style building which dominates the north Portsmouth skyline and is familiar to any Portsmouth resident who would probably identify it as ASWE. Until now its history has been poorly documented due to the nature of the work which went on there.

It was designed in the 1930s (hence its style) as a building which would be located somewhere in the UK. The Second World War prevented further progress and it was eventually built on Portsdown in 1952 as an Admiralty Signals Establishment (ASE). It has been subjected to many changes during its lifetime either wholesale or with various departments coming and going. The primary changes can be summarised as:

1952 - Admiralty Signals Establishment (ASE)
Admiralty Surface Weapons Establishment (ASWE)
Admiralty Research Establishment (ARE)
Defence Research Agency (DRA)
Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) - 1997

There are a total of 32 buildings on the 46 acre site built between 1946 and 1955 with Portsdown Main being the most outstanding. To the west is Fort Southwick a former Royal Navy COMMCEN. To the east are two further distinct sites on Portsdown Technology Park: an operational Ministry of Defence (MoD) establishment consisting of the Maritime Warfare Centre (MWC) and the Land-Based Test Site (LBTS); and QinetiQ Britain's largest independent science and technology company.

Portsdown Main finally closed its gates on 1 January 1997 and although there have been a number of Government departments interested in the site none have any plans to move there. On 3 October 2002 it was announced that the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) - formed by splitting DERA into DSTL and QinetiQ on 2 July 2001 - was going to move back, but this was cancelled in April 2004. It is now for sale on the open market by King Sturge the international property consultants.
Main Stairs...

Out Building...


The hooligans trade mark....

The dangers of urbex...

Underground tunnels...

Looking down from the third story...

Filing room...

On the roof...

View of Portsmouth...


Burnt down room...

On the way out...

Main Building...

Thanks for looking...


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