The Victorian Forts


The great Victorian Fortification programme began in 1852 with the construction of two forts to guard the western approaches to Portsmouth Harbour at Gosport. Fort Gomer was commenced in 1853 and completed in 1858. Fort Elson was commenced in 1855 and completed in 1860. When the Royal Commission reported in 1860 it recommended a new construction programme incorporating pre-existing forts into the scheme but proposing a complete ring of forts to guard the major dockyards of Portsmouth, Plymouth, Pembroke (Milford Haven), Portland, Thames, Medway, Doverand Cork.


In 1869 A report was produced entitled 'Report of the Committee Appointed to Enquire into the Construction, Condition and Cost of Fortifications Erected in 30, 31 Victoria and Previous Statutes, Together with minutes of Evidence.'

It listed the following forts and defences, constructed as part of, or incorporated into the Royal Commission Defence Scheme:



Sea Defences Outer line:

Spithead Defences

Horse Sand Fort


No Man's Land Fort


Spit Bank Fort


St. Helens Fort


Puckpool Battery


Sea Defences Inner Line

Gilkicker Battery


Southsea Castle


Eastney Batteries


Lumps Battery


Needles Passage Defences

Hurst Castle


Isle of Wight Defences

Needles Battery


Hatherwood Battery


Warden Point Battery


Cliff End


Golden Hill Barrack


Isle of Wight Coast Defences

Bembridge Fort


Redcliff Battery


Yaverland Battery


Sandown Fort


Sandown Barrack Battery


Portsdown Defences

Fort Purbrook and outworks


Fort Widley


Fort Southwick


Fort Nelson


Fort Wallington


Portsmouth Northern Land Defences

Hilsea Lines


Gosport Advanced Lines

Fort Grange


Fort Rowner


Fort Brockhurst


Fort Fareham

Stokes Bay Defences

Stokes Bay Lines


Sea Defences Outer Line

Bovisand or Staddon Point Battery


Breakwater Fort


Picklecombe Battery


Cawsand Battery

Sea Defences Inner Line

Drakes Island


Garden Battery, Mount Edgecumbe


Eastern and Western Kings

Western Defences

Fort Tregantle


Fort Scraesdon


Polhawn Battery

North Eastern Defences

Ernesettle Fort


Agaton Fort


Knowles Battery


Woodlands Fort


Crownhill Fort


Bowden Fort


Egg Buckland Keep


Forder Battery


Austin Fort


Fort Efford


Laira Battery

Staddon Position

Fort Staddon


Fort Stamford


Sea Defences

Stack Rock


South Hook


Hubberstone Battery


Popton Point Battery


Chapel Bay Battery

Land Defences

Fort Scoveston



Verne Citadel


The East Weir Batteries

Portland Breakwater

Inner Pier Fort


Portland Breakwater Fort


The Nothe Fort



Coalhouse Fort


Cliffe Fort




Slough Fort

Medway and Sheerness

Sea Defences

Grain Fort


Isle of grain Battery


Garrison Point Fort


Hoo and Darnet forts


Land Front of Sheerness

Queenborough lines and Cheyney Batteries



Western Outwork


The Citadel


North Centre Bastion and North Entrance


Drop Redoubt and East Lines


South Front Barrack, South Entrance and Lines


Castle Heights


Castle Hill Fort



Spike Island


Carlisle Fort


Fort Camden


The nomenclature 'Fort' or 'Battery' applied to the defences was done so without clarification. In some cases a battery eventually became known as a fort i.e. 'Hubberstone Battery' became 'Hubberstone Fort'. Likewise there has never been any clarification as to why the term 'fort' was applied before or after the name i.e. 'Crownhill Fort' but 'Fort Nelson'.