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St Helens Fort (Solent)

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2 Reviews

A larger Royal Commission sea forts in the Solent off Portsmouth, Hampshire, England.

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    2 Reviews
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    • More +
      28.11.2008 14:38
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      Currently up for sale, do you want to buy it...

      INTRODUCTION

      As many of you may be aware I have a very keen interest in the four forts that are situated in Port Solent and with this review I am going to review another of the forts.

      I have always admired the forts from a far and even had the chance to visit a few of them, as only two are accessible to the public at the moment, I have researched these for many years and like to keep up to date with the information I have collected over the years.

      I have always had a bigger interest in St Helens fort and No mans land fort as these two are both currently for sale, although the prices do vary a lot as No Mans Land is a lavish hotel and this fort is basically deralicked.

      I like to keep up to date as it interests me to see if they are going to sell and what they will become if they do sell.

      HISTORY

      This fort is situated in the eastern side of the Solent and sits one mile away from the Isle of Wight.

      If you look across the Port Solent from either Portsmouth, Gosport and even the Isle of Wight you are hit with four huge structures that are bobbing around in the middle on the water, these are the four forts that are also known as the Palmerston's Follies.

      Each of these forts were built in the 1860's to protect the surrounding areas and the naval base from invasion against the French, however as these were not completed until late 1860's and early 1870's they were never used in the invasion as the war was over by the time they were all finished.

      St Helens fort is the smallest for the four forts, but still offers the history that all of the others do, currently it is inhabited but as it is packed full of world history it has become a Grade II Listed Ancient Monument, which for me makes it that bit extra special.

      ST HELENS FORT

      Originally St Helens fort should have been much bigger, but once it was being built is suffered from really bad subsidence so they had to make it a lot smaller than they wanted to prevent it from sliding down into the sea.

      As this is much smaller than the other three forts it has the advantage that it is not standing in the bust shipping and ferry lanes, making this very secluded and private, the scenery is the same and all areas of the Solent can be viewed from any direction.

      The MOD sol St Helens fort and it is now privately owned, it was purchased with the aim for it if be renovated but work has never been undertaken and the only thing that lives on it now are sea gulls.

      This was place on the market again in October 2003 with a 200.000 price range on it, but I didn't sell, this maybe down to the fact that it didn't get access to local amenities like water, gas, telephone lines or electric.

      I personally feel that the 200.000 price was very good as it offers lots of space as it consists of a basement, upper deck and an observation deck which is located on the top of the fort.

      It also has planning permission in place so you could covert it into a private house, but I am sure this would have been snapped up years ago but not being able to have you post delivered or even electric would put you wouldn't it.

      OTHER INFORMATION

      This is made with a variety of stone and concrete, the main structure is made out of concrete and this is visible if ever you go on the annual walk out to the fort, this walk is held every years and very worth while doing.

      This is very large in my eyes but it does seem minute compared to the other forts, although they don't look all that different at a distance, the fort is forty meters above the sea and it is forty one meters in width.

      At low tides this has its very own private shingle beach, once or twice every year the tide gets so low that you can even walk out to the fort, but this always best doing as an organized trip as the tides can be very unpredictable.

      To gain access to the fort you can either enter through the main entrance on the middle deck if the tide allows you to do so or you can climb an access ladder that boats can be berthed at either side. I feel the access ladder is a must as you would only be able to come and go at certain times, as you would be dependant on the tide.

      ANNUAL WALK

      Every year an annual walk is organized so you can walk to the fort from ashore and then stroll around it, you can't enter the fort but just walking around it give you the idea of its sheer size.

      This walk can only be done once a year, as low tides only hit maybe once and sometimes twice a year so it is an opportunity not to be missed, if you try to do this when there are high tides you will not get across and you stand a great chance of drowning in the process.

      Usually the annual walk is held in early august, the dates do change every year to allow for the tides, even thought the tide is low enough to get across you will still find your self wading through the sea, When I did it the water was up to my chest and I did get a little worried at one point, if you do this with children you will have to be prepared to carry then through certain sections of the walk.

      Once you return from the walk, the organizers hold a massive beach party where you can have a few drinks and a BBQ. This is a very good day out and I can not recommend it highly enough.

      The walk starts at Silver Sands Beach which is located in St Helens. If you head for the duver a huge green grass verge the starting point is at the other side of it. If the tide is low enough a causeway will appear from the shore to the fort, if the causeway is not visible you will not be able to walk to the fort.

      Don't be alarmed this is organized so there are a number of safety boats to accompany you along the walk. All of the boats are all manned by volunteers so they do ask for donations, which you don't mind doing as the walk is free.

      MY OPINION

      I feel this would make a prefect secluded home for anyone who like piece and quiet, but the fact that you would struggle to get electric and water would not be very good for me, I don't think I could live by candle light for the rest of my life.

      The annual walk was fantastic, I took my dog but I have to say she was less than impressed as her hair got all wet and matted as she had to swim through the sea in certain sections, well at least I know she can swim if she need to.

      This is a walk I go on every year now, as the party afterwards is so much fun. I love that all of the locals get together and rally around to provide people with an amazing day out.

      The fort has never been lived in although is has planning permission to allow it, it was bought my some one but since then, gulls have been the only regular inhabitants of St Helens Fort in the Solent off the Isle of Wight.

      This is currently sill on the market as the owner has failed to renovate it, but I am sure the 200.000 price has fluctuated since 2003.

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      • More +
        13.11.2008 00:59
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        Interesting Building

        If you ever see a large concrete structure off the coast of the Isle of Wight, it's likely to be a Fort.

        The Island has a few of these circular bases dotted around its coastline, including 'Horse Sand Fort', 'St Helens Fort', 'No Mans Land Fort' and 'Spitbank Fort'. St Helens Fort in particular was constructed towards the end of the 18th Century in order to repel a potential attack from the French, who were led at the time by Louis Napoleon III. In later years, the fort was used in both the World Wars as a heavy-gun station, and in modern times as a mini-lighthouse.

        At the moment, no-one own St Helens Fort, and it is currently for sale. If you want to purchase an incredibly important piece of British history, it could be yours for roughly £200,000! - which actually doesn't seem much when you consider the scale of the place.

        On one day a year, during a particularly low tide, it is possible to walk out to the fort from the beach. A natural path appears, and although you will have to do a little wading, you can reach the structure and walk round the outside. This has become a tradition, and hundreds and hundreds of people will make the short journey (which looks like a scene from Exodus!) to the concrete sea-battery. I've done it myself, although you do have to be quick on the way back, as the tide can come in rather fast, and you can find yourself waist deep in surging water.

        All in all, St Helens Fort is an impressive building, and one which has an important factor in the defence of our country for centuries. It's sad to see it without an owner, but there you go. Anyway, that gives you something to do for next August - the St Helens Fort Walk!, just make sure you can swim...

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