Wooden masts were menace for aircraft

The north-western corner of Portsmouth, taken in 1973 when the M275 and the M27 were being built and showing Horsea Island now connected to the mainland
The north-western corner of Portsmouth, taken in 1973 when the M275 and the M27 were being built and showing Horsea Island now connected to the mainland

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More on that Horsea Island picture, in particular the mass of masts that existed there.

Mick Mills says the wireless station was a means of sending military messages to the naval base in Gibraltar.

He says: ‘The messages were transmitted from north of the UK via Horsea through to Gibraltar.

‘The masts were wooden and more than 400 feet high. In the late 1920s or early 1930s a biplane crashed into one of the masts and was embedded into the mast some 300 feet from the ground.’

Mick says that an area of the island was set aside by the navy between 1820 and 1831 where a munitions factory was built.

‘During this short period 59 million bullets were made for the armed forces. The powder used for making the bullets would have been sourced via the gunpowder store built in 1794 after George III had compulsorily purchased the area of Tipner (the King’s Land) and located on the current Pounds scrap yard.’

He adds that at the top of the original photograph, a small battery was built, about 1870, to protect the western approaches to the Hilsea Lines.

Mick continues: ‘I’m pretty sure the convict labour used for the enlargement of Horsea Lake, may have come from the convicts at either Portchester Castle or Tipnor [as it was spelled in those days] Point. Tipnor Point was used for a good many years for housing convicts on hulks.’