Palmerston Forts Society


Membership of the Palmerston Forts Society is open to all enthusiasts of nineteenth century fortifications and artillery aged over 18 years, and membership will apply to a member’s spouse / partner (although the spouse / partner does not have voting rights unless they are a member themselves).

Benefits of membership include:

  • Regular newsletters and advance information of the Society’s activities;
  • The Society’s annual journal The Redan;
  • Attendance at the monthly meetings held at Fort Nelson (excluding January, August and December);
  • Opportunities to visit other fortifications as a group member;
  • Opportunities to utilise the Society’s small library of reference books, maps and plans, and to request further research assistance from Royal Armouries own library resources;
  • The opportunity to join the Portsdown Artillery Volunteers and to fire Victorian ordnance (only after suitable Health & Safety training);
  • Voting rights at the Society’s Annual General Meeting held at Fort Nelson each October;
  • Opportunities to attend regular work parties at Fort Nelson and to be involved with maintenance and conservation work at the fort, if a member is so inclined. This is not mandatory!

If you would like to join then download the membership application form or click on the "Buy Now" button to pay on-line using Paypal.

Membership subscription:

  UK:   £20.00

on-line - £21.00* 
  With Gift Aid

  Without Gift Aid

  EC Europe:   £25.00 on-line - £26.50*

  Rest of the World:   £30.00 on-line - £32.00*

  Digital membership:   £17.00 on-line - £18.00*


The membership year commences 1 October and ends on the 30 September. Those selecting digital membership only receive The Redan by downloading from the members' section of the web site. Payment is accepted by cash, cheque, bank transfer or Paypal. Cheques made payable to "The Palmerston Forts Society”. Please contact the Membership Secretary if wishing to pay by bank transfer, so that this payment choice can be arranged for you. All payments must be in British Pounds (£).

Please send your completed application form and cheque made payable to ‘The Palmerston Forts Society’ to the Membership Secretary of the Palmerston Forts Society at the address found on the application form.

Any questions? If so, do contact the Membership Secretary at:

* Please note that an additional fee is charged for on-line payment due to the fees charged by Paypal. 

‡ I am a UK taxpayer and understand that if I pay less Income Tax and/or Capital Gains Tax than the amount of Gift Aid claimed on all my donations in that tax year it is my responsibility to pay any difference. Please notify us if you: 1) want to cancel this declaration, 2) change your name or home address or 3) no longer pay sufficient tax on your income and/or capital gains. If you pay Income Tax at the higher or additional rate and want to receive the additional tax relief due to you, you must include all your Gift Aid donations on your Self-Assessment tax return or ask HM Revenue and Customs to adjust your tax code.

Meetings / Events

02/02/2022 - Zoom Webinar - 'Vauban Part 1'

The Palmerston Forts Society, together with the Fortress Study Group and the Ordnance Society, are pleased to announce the following Zoom webinar… On the 2nd February, Jeroen van der Warf will be telling us about 'Vauban Part 1.' The talk will commence at 2000hrs, and all PFS members are welcome to attend. The link has been emailed to the members but if you are unsure then contact the Membership Secretary at

16/02/2022 - Zoom Webinar - The Fortifications on the Golan Heights'

The Palmerston Forts Society, together with the Fortress Study Group and the Ordnance Society, are pleased to announce the following Zoom webinar… On the 16th February, William Owen will be telling us about 'The Fortifications on the Golan Heights' The talk will commence at 2000hrs, and all PFS members are welcome to attend. The link has been emailed to the members but if you are unsure then contact the Membership Secretary at

26/02/2022 - Fort Gomer Resurrected

As announced in the News section the PFS February meeting will be on Saturday 26th February at 2.30pm in the Redan at Fort Nelson. Members may arrive any time after 2.00pm. Tea and biscuits will be served after the talk. Parking is available in the main car park. For this, the first Saturday talk, PFS member James Doherty will give us an inventive view of the 3D model that he has created of Fort Gomer.  This model gives you an opportunity to visit a fort that no longer exists – and a very interesting fort it is – which is now essentially a housing estate. It may even be possible to don a VR headset and explore for oneself, subject to joining the queue for such a unique experience! All PFS members are welcome.


PFS Meetings at Fort Nelson 2022

The PFS  will soon be issuing details of the PFS meetings at Fort Nelson. The big change to what we have experienced before is that in February and March the meetings will be on a Saturday afternoon, rather than a Wednesday evening. This is in response to many members expressing their concern about driving at night, often in poor weather, to get to the fort. If this change proves to be successful, then we will probably adopt it for October and November meetings. As a reminder, there are no meetings in December and January. Meetings from April to September will still be on the fourth Wednesday evening of the month, except in August when there is no meeting. A list of talks will follow shortly.

Merry Christmas!

The PFS Committee would like to take this festive time to wish the members of the Society a 'Very Happy Christmas and a Prosperous 2022'.
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Horse Sand Fort sold for £715,000

The BBC website has just announced the following.... 'A derelict sea fort built to deter a French invasion in the 19th Century has been sold for £715,000. Horse Sand Fort is one of a group of four so-called “Palmerston's Follies” - artificial island fortifications - in the Solent. It was sold by businessman Mike Clare, who has transformed two of the other forts into luxury hotels. Estate agent Colliers said the unnamed UK buyer aimed to "develop the site for a leisure use". Previously the firm said Horse Sand Fort had planning permission for 22 luxury residential apartments. In a marketing brochure, it said the property boasted "100 original chambers and living quarters, plus original gun carriages and armour-plated walls". Mr Clare, who founded the Dreams bed company, put all three of his forts up for sale in 2019. He has set a deadline of 26 November for offers for No Man's Land Fort after dropping the asking price from £4.25m to £3.6m, Colliers said. His third fort, Spitbank, has been marketed for £4m. Construction work on the Solent forts began in 1865 under former prime minister Lord Palmerston. By the time they had all been completed in 1880,' the invasion threat had passed. The hotels on No Man's Land and Spitbank Forts were officially closed to guests in 2020. Solent Forts' website said reopening would be deferred until there was no threat of further coronavirus restrictions.

The Redan No.82

The 2021 issue of The Redan has been received from the printers, and a general mail out to members who have renewed has commenced. A digitised version can be found in the members' area of the PFS website.

2021 Annual General meeting

The AGM reports presentations are now available in the members area of the web-site for viewing.
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2021 - 2022 PFS Membership Year

The 2021 - 2022 PFS Membership started on the 1st October, and thanks to all members who have renewed their subscription which will last until the 30th September 2022. A polite reminder to the few members who have yet to pay their subs; it's so easy by cheque, bank transfer or PayPal. Contact the Membership Secretary if you have any questions:

Fort Widley - Home to The Pompey Pals Charity

The Palmerston era Fort Widley is the home to The Pompey Pals Charity which was initially set up to erect a memorial at Fratton Park (the home of Portsmouth FC), to honour the Portsmouth men who, during the First World War, joined the 14th & 15th Battalions of The Hampshire Regiment known as The Pompey Pals. Since 2014, the charity has expanded its aims and now looks to honour and commemorate all Portsmouth citizens who have served in this country’s armed forces, or who have lost their lives as a result of enemy action from 1914 to the present day. Whether it is through this website, social media, organised memorial events, or via the museum and research centre located at Fort Widley, the aim is to record and to tell the individuals story. The museum at Fort Widley is able to open, all be it on a strictly pre-booked basis only, and can accommodate groups of up to 4 people. For more details or to make a booking: Fort Widley, Portsdown Hill Road, Portsmouth, PO3 3LS / tel: 07982 402229 

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.
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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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