MPs call for action to save historic forts from ruin

Fort Fareham is on the 'at risk' register
Fort Fareham is on the 'at risk' register

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ACTION must be taken now to stop history crumbling away forever, according to the Fareham and Gosport MPs.

MP for Fareham Suella Fernandes has issued a plea for action to be taken on Fort Fareham, after it was placed on an ‘at risk’ register by the national heritage organisation Historic England.

Fort Elson in Gosport

Fort Elson in Gosport

Miss Fernandes said the structure, which is one of the Palmerston Forts, was the greatest concern of all the four Fareham sites on the register.

She said: ‘Fareham has a wonderful, rich heritage – and we need to conserve it for future generations. We have a duty to future generations to do our bit to conserve our heritage.’

The fort, off Newgate Lane, which is now privately-owned but used as an industrial site, was built in 1861 as the only completed part of the planned Gosport Outer Line defences to protect Portsmouth Harbour.

It is classified as priority ‘A’ by Historic England – meaning it is ‘at immediate risk of further rapid deterioration’, and no solution has been agreed.

Historic England chief executive Duncan Wilson and Fareham MP 'Suella Fernandes

Historic England chief executive Duncan Wilson and Fareham MP 'Suella Fernandes

The News approached owner Graham Moyse but he did not comment.

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage also joined the calls for action, after another fort in the series, Fort Elson, was placed on the register, again ‘at immediate risk of further rapid deterioration.’

Fort Elson, in Military Road, was built between 1853 and 1860. Damaging vegetation has now taken hold of the site. It is owned by the MoD, which has drafted a management plan but this has not been agreed or implemented.

Ms Dinenage said: ‘In Gosport we have so many fascinating historic buildings which really bring our naval and military heritage to life. Unfortunately, some of these sites are at real risk of degradation due to a lack of maintenance.

‘Owners, whether state or private, have a moral responsibility to be custodians of these heritage sites and to pass them on to the next generation.’

Miss Fernandes met senior representatives of Historic England – including chief executive, Duncan Wilson – in Westminster to discuss the issue.

Dr Andy Brown, from Historic England, said: ‘These coastal forts are one of the things that make our region special, and are the things most at risk.

‘If they’re lost, then part of our regional distinctiveness is lost too. Together we can safeguard our most precious places for future generations to learn from and to remember the debt we owe to our forebears.’

Sites that have been listed as ‘at risk’ by Historic England

Church of the Holy Trinity, West Street, Fareham

Church of St Cuthbert, Hayling Avenue, Portsmouth

Church of St Mary, Fratton Road, Kingston, Portsmouth

Church of St Luke, Greetham Street, Portsmouth

Church of St George, St Georges Square, Portsea

Coastguards, conservation area, Havant

Fort Elson, RNAD, Military Road, Gosport

Fort Fareham, Newgate Lane, Fareham

Fort Cumberland, Fort Cumberland Road, Eastney

Fort Southwick, Portsdown Hill, Portsmouth, Southwick and Widley

Former Royal Naval Academy (Buildings 1/14 and 1/116-9), HM Naval Base, Portsmouth

Gilkicker Fort, Fort Road, Gilkicker Point

Guardrooms to Haslar Gunboat Yard, Haslar Road, HMS Dolphin, Dolphin 3, Gosport

Hilsea Lines – Centre Bastion excluding casemates referred to as Bastion 4, East Centre Curtain (Railway) west side (formerly known as Bastion no. 5), Hilsea

Horse Sand Fort, Solent, Southsea

Iron and Brass Foundry, 1/140, Victoria Road, HM Naval Base, Portsmouth

No. 6 Dock, Basin No. 1, Portsmouth Dockyard No. 25 Store, Yard Services Manager’s Office, 1/118, Jago Road, HM Naval Base, Portsmouth

Parish Church of St Peter, Church Place, Titchfield

St Faith’s Church, West Street, Havant

Titchfield Abbey and fishponds – stables, Mill Street, Titchfield, Fareham

2-8, The Parade, HM Naval Base, Portsmouth

The Beneficial School, Kent Street, Portsea

Trinity Methodist Church, Albert Road, Portsmouth

Wymering Manor, Old Wymering Lane, Cosham

Workshops, boilerhouse and engine room, Haslar Gunboat Yard, HMS Dolphin, Gosport

For details go to historicengland.org.uk/

Projects aim to bring building back into use

HISTORIC England is working with the local authorities that surround Portsmouth Harbour to encourage community groups and businesses to reuse the wealth of historic buildings associated with the Naval Base in Portsmouth.

It hopes this will bring in new investment to the area and improve the quality of life for residents.

Projects under way that Historic England is involved in are: putting the Guardhouses at Haslar Gunboat Yard back into sustainable re-use, and working with the Groundlings Theatre Company at the Beneficial School in Portsmouth to repair the building so that it can continue to provide community theatre in Portsea.