Fort Widley

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Fort Widley
Portsdown Hill, Portsmouth, England
Fort Widley - - 1232.jpg
View of the parade ground at Fort Widley
Coordinates 50°51′15″N 1°04′03″W / 50.8541°N 1.0676°W / 50.8541; -1.0676Coordinates: 50°51′15″N 1°04′03″W / 50.8541°N 1.0676°W / 50.8541; -1.0676
Site information
Owner Portsmouth City Council
Site history
Built 1860s

Fort Widley is one of the forts built on top of Portsdown Hill between 1860 and 1868 on the recommendation of the Royal Commission on the Defence of the United Kingdom.[1] It was designed, along with the other Palmerston Forts atop Portsdown, to protect Portsmouth from attack from the rear.[1]

Even before they were completed questions arose over the effectiveness of the forts in the face of improving weapons technology[2] and the forts were not fitted with guns until some years after they had been completed.[3] This delay resulted in changes to the fort's planned armament.[3] The originally specified 68-pounder smooth-bore guns were never fitted and instead RBL 7 inch Armstrong guns may have been the fort's first armament.[3] In 1885 the fort was reported to have been fitted with some ordnance while the other Portsdown forts were still awaiting their guns.[4] By the 1890s the fort was fitted with five RML 6.6 inch howitzers, ten RBL 7 inch Armstrong guns, two RML 8 inch howitzers and nine RBL 40 pounder Armstrong guns on carriages that could be moved to wherever they were needed.[3]

Fort Widley had its guns removed in 1902.[3] During the First World War it was used as a transit depot. During the Second World War it was modified to provide more accommodation.[2] It was then used by a number of units before housing members of the Royal Corps of Signals and Auxiliary Territorial Service supporting the navy command at Fort Southwick.[2] In 1952 the fort became home to a bomb disposal squadron and a year later an emergency civil control centre for Portsmouth was constructed in the fort's magazine. The fort was leased to Portsmouth City Council (then the Portsmouth Corporation) in 1961 and was sold outright to the council in 1972.[2]

In September 2010 the fort was used to host a search and rescue exercise based around a simulated earthquake.[5] Titled Exercise Orion, the event involved teams from seven countries dealing with 35 scenarios over 2 days.[5][6]

Both the Fort and a gun in front of it have been designated Listed Buildings, at Grades II* and II respectively.[7][8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Corney, Arthur (1984). Fort Widley and the Great Forts on Portsdown. Portsmouth City Museums. pp. 5–6. 
  2. ^ a b c d Corney, Arthur (1984). Fort Widley and the Great Forts on Portsdown. Portsmouth City Museums. pp. 21–25. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Corney, Arthur (1984). Fort Widley and the Great Forts on Portsdown. Portsmouth City Museums. p. 14. 
  4. ^ Mitchell, Garry; Cobb, Peter (1986). Fort Nelson History & Description. p. 8. ISBN 947605045 Check |isbn= value (help). 
  5. ^ a b Dominic Blake (8 September 2010). "Hampshire's rescue service skills put to the test". BBC news. Retrieved 24 February 2012. 
  6. ^ "Mock earthquake test for rescue teams in Portsmouth". BBC News. 8 September 2010. Retrieved 24 February 2012. 
  7. ^
  8. ^