Page 8 - Fort Gilkicker
P. 8

Fort Gilkicker                                                                                  Solent Papers No.5

                                                                    The Committee recognised that the Stokes
                                                                    Bay beach was a perfect place for a landing
                                          Gosport Defences 1860
                                                                    along its whole length. Jervois said in his
                        Fort Elson                                  report that the water was deep enough for
                                                                    ships to lie within 800 yards of the shore.
                                                                    Archer had already noted in 1773 that the
                                                                    beach and bay provided a fine shelving beach
                Fort Brockhurst
                                                                    for troops to land under covering fire from
                                                                    their ships. Here they could form up before an
           supplied with water. This was under construction Preview
                                                                    attack was made on the surrounding high
                                                                    ground. Spanish intelligence reports of 1597
               Fort Rowner
                                                            Portsmouth  and the French invasion plans of 1768 and
                                                                    1769 had confirmed this. Little construction
                                                                    had been done in the intervening years.
             Fort Grange
                                                                    Proposals for Gilkicker
                                                                    The Commission which reported in 1860
                                                     Gosport Towm
                                                                    recommended that Gilkicker should be
             Fort Gomer
                                                                    extended and strengthened and its armament
                                                                    increased to nine guns. A new battery was
                                                                    constructed instead. Now that the defence of
                                                                    Stokes Bay beach was complete with its new
                                                                    moat and rampart this new battery was no
             No.2 Battery    Stokes Bay Lines
                                                                    longer needed to protect the beach and could
                                                                    be constructed to face out to sea and
                                                                    concentrate its fire on enemy shipping.  The
                                                                    enemy was expected to try to run into the
                                                 Fort Monckton
                                                                    harbour through the defended narrow
                                                                    entrance. This was unlikely to be achieved just
                                      Fort Gilkicker
                                                                    by relying on the destructive action of
           Chairmanship of Sir Henry David Jones, Major             broadsides from line-of-battle ships or heavy
           General, Kt, CB. Not surprisingly James Fergusson  frigates against Fort Blockhouse and the other
           was the Treasury official on the Committee.        batteries at the harbour mouth. Instead the great fear
                                                              was that gun-boats would be employed to project

           As part of the 1857 defence proposals by Major     shells to the rear of the forts, distracting the gun
           W.F.D. Jervois, the Assistant Inspector-General of  crews and preventing them from operating the heavy
           Fortifications, a water filled ditch with a rampart was  defence guns, some of which were not in casemates.
           constructed by the Royal Engineers along the length  These gun boats together with floating batteries were
           of Stokes Bay. This was to link the Gomer Elson line  a formidable weapon in aiding an attempt by heavier
           of Forts with the Monckton and Gilkicker Forts,    vessels to force the in-shore channel. It was debated
           closing off the Bay and completing the western     that the only way to counteract a line of such vessels,
           defences of the Harbour. Such a moat had been      ‘en echelon’, along a course  parallel to Fort
           described by Fergusson in his ‘The Peril of        Monckton, Fort Gilkicker and Fort Blockhouse was
           Portsmouth’ published in 1855 and had been         to supplement the direct fire of the heavier forts with
           considered by Monckton as early as 1779. The moat  a line of scattered batteries such as those along the
           was flanked by five batteries at various points. They  Stokes Bay moat. The Defence Committee in 1862
           were numbered from one to five, west to east. The  approved the design of a ‘casemated battery of
           River Alver was diverted into the moat to keep it  curvilinear form for 26 guns in one tier’ at Gilkicker.
                                                              It was to direct its principal fire on Sturbridge Shoal
           when the Defence Committee met in 1860 and was     and the flanks upon Spithead and Stokes Bay.
           approved by it.

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