The Palmerston Forts are a group of forts and associated structures, around the coast of Britain.
The forts were built during the Victorian period on the recommendations of the 1860 Royal Commission on the Defence of the United Kingdom, following concerns about the strength of the French Navy, and strenuous debate in parliament about whether the cost could be justified. The name comes from their association with Lord Palmerston, who was Prime Minister at the time and promoted the idea.
The works were also known as Palmerston's Follies, partly because the first ones, around Portsmouth, had their main armament facing inland to protect Portsmouth from a land-based attack, which gave the impression that they faced the wrong way to defend from a French attack. They were also criticized because by the time they were completed, any threat had passed, largely due to the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, and because the technology of the guns had become out-of-date. They were the most costly and extensive system of fixed defences undertaken in Britain in peacetime.
Some sixty years previously, there had been a similar period of defence works construction, when a couple of hundred circular towers were built for the same purpose (mainly along the Sussex, Kent and Suffolk coast to protect London) called Martello Towers, but these had now become outdated.
- Bristol Channel
- River Clyde
- Isle of Wight
- Milford Haven
- North Thames and East Anglia
- North East England
- Portland Harbour
- Lough Swilly
- South Coast (other than those included in specific areas)
A complete list is available online.
- Palmerston Forts: No Man's Land Fort, Spitbank Fort, St Helens Fort and Horse Sand Fort.
- Maunsell Forts
- High Knoll Fort
- Hurst Castle
- Martello tower
- Brown, D. (2006). "Palmerston and Anglo--French Relations, 1846--1865". Diplomacy & Statecraft 17 (4): 675–692. doi:10.1080/09592290600942918.
- King-hall, S. (January 1, 1951). "A Defence Debate Ninety Years Ago". Parliamentary Affairs V (2): 297–304. Retrieved 2008-06-08.
- Hicks, Peter. "'Palmerston's Follies': a reply to the French 'threat'". Napoleon.org. Retrieved 2008-06-08.
- "Fort Nelson History". Royal Armouries. Retrieved 2008-06-08.
- "Victorian Forts and Artillery: List of Royal Commission Forts". Victorianforts.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-10-17.