Report - - Woodland's Fort, Plymouth, March 2018 | Military Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk
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Report - Woodland's Fort, Plymouth, March 2018


28DL Regular User
Regular User
1. The History
Woodland Fort is one of the Palmerston Forts that form Plymouth's north-eastern defences that were constructed in the late 1800s with the purpose of defending the Royal Dockyard at Devonport from the possibility of a French attack, under the leadership of Napoleon III. Construction commended in 1863 but was delayed when the contractors failed in 1866. It was later completed in 1870 at a total cost of £27,973.

The fort is trapezoidal in shape and incorporates many advanced Victorian fort design innovations from the time. It housed 18 guns in total with two in Haxo casemates. The soldiers' barracks, with room for 100 soldiers, are situated to the north of the parade ground while the now-ruined cookhouse is located down the north-west side. The magazines are to the north east. There is a caponier to the north west covering the west flank and a counterscarp gallery to the north east, which was armed with four 32 pounder SBBL guns as well as serving as extra accommodation for the soldiers. This can be seen from the plan below:

by HughieDW, on Flickr

This gallery was accessed via a tunnel heading beneath the ditch. The purpose of the gallery was to provide flanking fire along the north and east lengths of the defensive ditch. The gatehouse is at the south of the fort and retains some elements of the fort’s original drawbridge mechanism.

It was apparently disarmed in 1895 and then used mainly for accommodation during World War I. It was then sold off by the MOD in 1920 but re-occupied by the military during World War II. It was then used by Devon County Council as library and community centre. The fort is now largely derelict, although the aforementioned barracks are still in use and maintained by a group of volunteers. However, the rest of the fort suffers from a lack of maintenance and has been subject to extensive vandalism. Both the caponier and counterscarp are inaccessible from within the fort as both access tunnels are now blocked off. When Crownhill Road was enlarged, due south of the fort, the ditch was filled in allowing easy access to the fort on foot, although the site is not open to the public.

2. The Explore:
Due to my train arriving in Plymouth late and time being tight I caught the bus over to Woodland’s fort as the evening was drawing in. Fortunately, I got there before the sun had gone down and started to explore this fantastic Palmerston Fort. The barracks are still used by a social club but the rest of the fort is abandoned. By the looks of recent pictures, they have now cleared a lot of the undergrowth off the batteries on three sides of the fort. Sadly, there was no entry point to the caponier (that I could squeeze through!) and I forgot to check the counterscarp gallery out (revisit therefore required). That aside though this was a very pleasant way to spend an hour or so of the remaining daylight.

3. The Pictures:

The entrance gate to the south by the main road:

by HughieDW, on Flickr

Part of the fort’s original drawbridge mechanism:

by HughieDW, on Flickr

Rear view of the entrance gate:

by HughieDW, on Flickr

Barracks detail:

by HughieDW, on Flickr

Covered gun emplacement:

by HughieDW, on Flickr

Interior shot:

by HughieDW, on Flickr

by HughieDW, on Flickr

by HughieDW, on Flickr

Old gun mount:

by HughieDW, on Flickr

by HughieDW, on Flickr

Inside one of the magazines:

by HughieDW, on Flickr

Looking out of the west side of the fort:

by HughieDW, on Flickr

by HughieDW, on Flickr

by HughieDW, on Flickr

On to the cook-house:

by HughieDW, on Flickr

Pretty much gone:

by HughieDW, on Flickr

…and in the grip of ivy:

by HughieDW, on Flickr

by HughieDW, on Flickr

by HughieDW, on Flickr

Overview of cook-house (including obligatory shopping trolley) with barracks at the back right:

by HughieDW, on Flickr

Round the west side to the caponier:

by HughieDW, on Flickr

All sealed-up:

by HughieDW, on Flickr

..apart from here. Too tighter squeeze? For me…definitely!

by HughieDW, on Flickr

Then there’s the water hazard!

by HughieDW, on Flickr

Looking down on the caponier:

by HughieDW, on Flickr

by HughieDW, on Flickr

…and the north-west ditch (now moat!):

by HughieDW, on Flickr

Looking along the northern ditch:

by HughieDW, on Flickr

by HughieDW, on Flickr

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