Solent Forts

Solent forts from the beach at Ryde, Isle of Wight

These man-made island forts were originally built to protect the eastern approaches to Portsmouth Harbour from attack by enemy forces. The four armour-plated forts were designed by Captain E. H. Stewart, overseen by Assistant Inspector General of Fortifications, Colonel W. F. D. Jervois. Construction took place between 1865 and 1880, at a total cost of £1,177,805. By the time the forts had been completed, the threat of invasion had long since passed and although the forts were armed and re-armed as technology advanced, they were never used in anger. They were decommissioned in 1956 and put up for sale in the 1960s, although they were not sold until the 1980s. The subsequent purchaser, in 2012, was Clarenco (previously known as Amazing Retreats), operated by Michael Clare. His plan was for two of the forts to be converted into hotels and one into a museum.

The restoration was completed for Spitbank Fort and No Man’s Land Fort, both hotels at the time, but not for Horse Sand Fort. In 2020, the three were listed for sale