Palmerston Forts Society


Latest news concerning Fort Gilkicker

On Wednesday 5th May, four members of the Palmerston Forts Society meet with two directors of the development company that has bought Fort Gilkicker and their architect.  We were invited to the meeting after approaching the developers with a request for clarification of their plans for the fort.

We explained that the Palmerston Forts Society have no objection to a conversion to residential use and we would support any project that give a sustainable future for as much of the fabric of the fort as possible.

The developers will turn the fort into high specification apartments.  This is essentially to the plan established by the previous owners of the fort (image attached).  This proposal has planning consent which is still valid.  The apartments will occupy the original casemated gun floor and a new upper level  which will take the place of the 20th century upper gun level.  The magazine level below the gun floor will be dedicated to utilities.  There will be additional apartments in the barrack block.

The conversion will involve the removal of the earth bank which currently covers the casemated gun floor and the 20th century concrete additions on the roof of the fort. The major civils work on the roof and the earth bank will start in September and the project is planned to take two years to complete.

The architect is familiar with the repurposing of heritage buildings including fortifications.  He explained that original features such as lifting lugs will be retained if they satisfy building safety regulations.  Most of the original non-structural features such as ammunition lifts are in very poor condition but we agreed that efforts should be made to ensure that nothing is scrapped that might be useful to another fort.  We will be discussing how that might be facilitated.  We have agreed to keep in touch and provide any technical information that could be useful to the project.

Site security remains a problem.  We were told that gaps in the fences are reopened as soon as they are fixed and new razor wire has been displaced.  The developers assured us that they were determined to protect their property but there seems to be almost routine trespass and we remain worried about the potential for damage, fire or injury.

Meetings / Events

27/06/2021 - Slough Fort Open Day Sunday 27th June

The Slough Fort Preservation Trust has announced an Open Day on Sunday 27th June 2021, which is an additional activity to their regular Sunday Tours. For more details, check the Slough Fort website: The Fort Nelson based Portsdown Artillery Volunteers will be in attendance at the Open Day, so come along if you wish to support our brave lads. For your SAT NAV, use the postcode: ME3 9QF although this postcode is not recognised by some SAT NAV systems. If this does not work then use ME3 9QD.

14/08/2021 - PFS members only visit to Fort Gilkicker

The PFS committee is delighted to announce that the new owners of Fort Gilkicker have agreed to a visit by PFS members on August 14th.  There is no fee for this visit but there are a limited number of spaces available and these will be allocated on a first come first served basis. To confirm - this is a PFS members only event. If you wish to take part in this visit, then please contact:

16/10/2021 - PFS Annual General Meeting 2021

The PFS will hold the 2021 AGM on Saturday 16th October at 14.00hrs. As yet it is undecided if the meeting will be virtual by Zoom (as last year) or live at Fort Nelson, subject to Royal Armouries' approval and in accordance with whatever safety requirements they determine. All PFS members are invited to attend.


Palmerston Forts Society Members' Survey

In February and March this year, we surveyed the PFS membership on the subject of the PFS website.  This was the third members’ survey, the previous two concerning Social Media and Meetings and Events. Members were asked six questions about the website and one question each about our Facebook page and the Newsletter:  66% of members responded – a high response rate that gives us confidence that the results are representative. We were pleased to find that the PFS website was rated highly by most members.  The most common response was that the website was “fine as it is” but there were some good ideas for improvements and some of those have already been implemented.  For example, you will find a new page in the website on the PFS committee – how the committee works and who the members are. Feedback on the Newsletter was also very positive. The full results of the survey and the agreed actions can be found in the Members Area Menu on the website.

PFS New Publication - 'The Portsmouth Artillery Volunteers 1797 - 1908'

The PFS has just launched a new publication - 'The Portsmouth Artillery Volunteers 1797-1908' by PFS member Duncan Williams. This full colour, 36 page booklet, follows the story of the Volunteer Artillerymen that manned the nation’s fortifications from the late 18th to early 20th centuries. Although the book uses the units formed in Portsmouth to illustrate the development of the nation's Volunteer Artillery force, the information would be useful to anybody with an interest in a rarely covered topic on British military history or the local history of Portsmouth. Full details of how to purchase this publication can be found on the Information tab of the PFS website.

Latest news concerning Fort Gilkicker

On Wednesday 5th May, four members of the Palmerston Forts Society meet with two directors of the development company that has bought Fort Gilkicker and their architect.  We were invited to the meeting after approaching the developers with a request for clarification of their plans for the fort.
read more ...

English Heritage Statement on Hurst Castle

EH have issued a statement on their web site concerning the collapse of part of the castle and the work currently being carried out.
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Fort Nelson reopens on 12th April

Fort Nelson will be open from 12 April 2021. Once again, visitors will be able to enjoy the panoramic views from the fort’s ramparts, The galleries will then be opened on May 17th as the Covid restrictions are relaxed. Although the main café will not be open, the snack bar will be open with plenty of picnic space. Social distancing and various other forms of safety control will be in place, and so the number of people on site can be managed it is necessary to book advance for the timed daily sessions. Admission is free but on-site car parking incurs a small charge. Disappointingly, it looks as if there are no plans for live firings in 2021. Nigel Hosier, the Operations Manager, is quoted: "The guns have been silent for more than a year now but we have big plans for their return in 2022. They are the life, sight and smell of the fort. We plan to revamp and remodel how we do it." For advance booking check the Royal Armouries website:

Fort Gilkicker - interesting news (perhaps)

Interesting news about FORT GILKICKER (perhaps) The Fort Gilkicker Information Group today reports: “………. I just wanted to update you with an important piece of news I have been informed of today. Two reliable sources of information have told me that contracts have been exchanged very recently for Gilkicker which means that the fort now possibly has a new owner and work is again going to commence very soon. I am awaiting a final reply from …….regarding this issue but will keep you all updated accordingly. …….” We will keep you posted on this one !
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PFS Official Statement regarding Hurst Castle

At this morning's PFS Committee, the catastrophe that had struck the East Wing Battery of Hurst Castle was discussed. The committee felt it appropriate that an official public statement should be made.
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Hurst Castle Front Seaward-Facing Wall Collapse

Terrible news form Hurst Castle as the front seaward-facing wall collapses due to coastal erosion. A report from the BBC news website follows....
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Exciting news about Eastney Fort East

Earlier this week, a delegation from the Palmerston Forts Society met with the new owners of the site of the former Royal Marines Museum which includes the battery. The owners plan to develop the site into Portsmouth's first five star hotel. We were invited to discuss options for the future of the battery site.
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Amazon Smile

The PFS have registered with Amazon Smile. If you use Amazon why not use Amazon Smile instead, there is no difference to you as the customer, but for every £1 you spend, those nice folk at Amazon will give the PFS a ha'penny!
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