News

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:

 
The collapse of a large section of Hurst Castle’s east wing is a great loss to the nation’s coastal heritage. Although Hurst’s original 16th century tower at the centre of the defensive structure remains intact, it is the huge granite wings, built as part of the Victorian improvements to the nation’s coastal defences in the 1860s, that are the most prominent parts of the site. Sadly they are also at the most risk, as has been demonstrated in the last few weeks.

Although built to withstand heavy artillery fire from the most advanced guns used at the time, the great wings were not designed to withstand an assault from below. When they were built, the waterfront was a good distance from the fort and the wings were constructed on firm ground. 150 years later, the impact of coastal change is all too obvious, with significant changes to the spit's structure within the last 30 years.
 
Whilst coastal change has affected people living on the UK's coasts for many years, we should recognise that this is not an entirely natural process. We need a deeper understanding of human impact on the coast, such as the influence of dredging and how improvements to one shoreline can be detrimental to others. Hurst has been placed at risk from human actions elsewhere in Christchurch Bay for some time.

 

As one of the most visible reminders of Britain’s history of military coastal defence, Hurst is a significant heritage asset and one that must be preserved to the best of our ability. We look forward to better understanding how this unfortunate collapse occurred and what plans are being made to secure Hurst’s future. We are happy to work with English Heritage and Historic England in order to establish the most appropriate course of action, and safeguard the rest of the fort from the sea. 

 

 

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