Newest Review: ... near the Spinnaker Tower. The total cost for the evening was fifteen pounds. When you leave from the mainland, it takes only aro... more
Enjoyable night out on a historic fort in the English Channel
Spitbank Fort (Portsmouth)
Member Name: julwhite
Spitbank Fort (Portsmouth)
Advantages: Fascinating building, reasonable prices
Disadvantages: Limited food and drink available
This review is for Spitbank Fort, one of three defensive forts built in the English Channel near Portsmouth. They were originally built in the 1860s by the then Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston. the building was delayed, and the forts are often referred to as follies, as they were never needed and considered to have been pointless.
However, the forts were retained by the military until the 1960s, until they were sold by the Government to a private individual. Since then the fort has been used as a museum, restaurant and so on, and has been refitted whilst retaining most of the original features.
I went there for a themed evening recently at the Fort, the first time that I'd been here. The night started at around 7pm by taking a boat (part of the price) from Gun Wharf Quays in Portsmouth, near the Spinnaker Tower. The total cost for the evening was fifteen pounds.
When you leave from the mainland, it takes only around ten minutes to get there, and the boat is spacious with its own bar, although you won't have much time to enjoy your drink if there's a queue at the bar, given how short the boat journey is.
When you get there, you walk across platforms to the boat, into the main part of the fort. Don't look down if you don't like heights! There is an open centre to the fort, which is circular in shape. There are a range of rooms, and a licensed bar which you can walk through, with a dance floor. The drinks prices were very reasonable and at pub prices, especially as they could have taken advantage people, so this was a positive. The range of drinks was quite limited, but was sufficient.
There was very limited opportunity to get food, with no bar snacks such as crisps or peanuts stocked. Late in the evening, curry was available for 3.50 pounds, with a choice of either chicken curry or vegetarian. It was quite late to serve this, but was of good quality. I'm sure that the venue could have made more money though if they had put on a wider range of food.
The fort itself has lots of steps, and if you climb to the top, you can walk nearly all the way round. If you do have children at the venue (who weren't allowed the night I was there) though, you would have to ensure you were very careful, as there is little protection to stop people falling off the side! The venue must be permanently worried that someone gets in a drunken state and falls from the side, unlikely, but definitely not difficult to do.
There was lots in the fort that was interesting, and you could see little pieces of history throughout. Much of the more interesting areas weren't visible - such as the dungeons, which were made famous a few years back when Jeremy Beadle stayed in them as part of a TV programme. There was also very little information about the history of the fort, which was disappointing. Some more information boards would have been interesting, to show what parts of the fort had been used for what in the past.
It was however a very enjoyable evening, and the boat returned us to the shore at around midnight. The venue didn't feel very professionally managed as some people managed to get onto the fort for free, the food and drinks offering was quite limited, but the charges were very reasonable, and so an effort had been made in that regard.
If you haven't been though, this is definitely a venue worth considering a visit, history on our own doorstep!
Summary: Very reasonable overall, definitely worth a look
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