Horse Sand Fort, built to protect the mainland side of the Solent, is one of the most unusual filming locations in the world. Set in easy reach of Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight, Horse Sand Fort is a fantastic location for historical documentaries, period filming and an authentic location for when a genuine piece of naval heritage is needed.
The Fort is a quirky and unique gun emplacement, built to protect our fleet when Britannia ruled the waves, which is currently in the process of being transformed into a living museum, allowing guests to enjoy the beauty of this ancient monument, largely untouched and in its original state. Providing a dramatic and vivid insight into the UK’s remarkable history, visitors will be able to see the original gun carriages, shell stores, armour plated walls, chambers and living quarters.
Horse Sand Fort boasts an incredible opportunity to film in a listed historical monument. Let us know your brief and we will be sure to make your vision become a reality.
When Louis Napoleon, the nephew of Bonaparte, seized power in 1848 and declared himself Emperor Napoleon III there was widespread fear in Britain of a resumption of hostilities with France and a possible invasion. In 1860, after much debate and deliberation, the government of Lord Palmerston proposed the construction of a ring of forts in the Solent to protect Britain’s premier naval dockyard.
The building of Horse Sand Fort commenced in 1865 and was completed in June 1880. Horse Sand Fort and the near identical No Man’s Fort, are 200 ft in diameter and fully armor plated.
Each of the Solent Forts represents an amazing feat of engineering. The stones, beautifully cut and weighing several tonnes a piece, had to be positioned on the seabed by divers who worked without the benefit of today’s technology. Each includes an artesian well to provide the garrison with fresh water – these are over 400ft deep!
The cost was extortionate: excluding armaments Horse Sand Fort cost £424,694 (£31m in today’s money) and No Man’s Land Fort £462,500 (£34m in today’s money). By the time they were completed the invasion threat had receded and the Forts were dubbed “Palmerston’s Follies”. They were heavily armed, none the less, with the guns being regularly upgraded as technology advanced.
Between the wars, all Forts in the Solent were left largely neglected until 1940 when the fall of France meant an invasion by German forces became a real threat. All the forts suffered considerable damage as a result of German bombing. They were not able to support heavy anti-aircraft guns for general air defense but were brought to war-readiness for the seizure of French warships anchored off Portsmouth in 1940, after the fall of France. This was the only time that their armament was trained on the targets for which they had been originally built. The seizure was completed with little opposition and actual firing from the guns on the Forts was not necessary.
Horse Sands Fort was only totally decommissioned and handed over to the Portsmouth Naval Base Heritage in 1993, having laid completely derelict since 1957. It was put on sale in 2002 and was bought by a property development company who had planned to turn it into luxury apartments. The centro of the fort would have been designed as a ‘street’ where residents would have been able to meet each other. This did not materialize and Horse Sand Fort was added to the AmaZing Venues portfolio in 2012.
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