THEY have survived wars, erosion and raves and now all three Solent Forts are up for sale for a cool £11m.
The forts, nicknamed Palmerston’s Follies, which stand off the Portsmouth coast in the Solent, are owned by Clarenco, a company run by millionaire entrepreneur Mike Clare.
Mike, who made his fortune setting up bed retailer Dreams in the 1980s and then selling it for more than £200m in 2008, said that with a heavy heart it’s time to move on.
Though the forts have stood the test of time, their sale has been brought about by Mike and his wife separating, although Mike says they are still very dear to him and he hopes another entrepreneur will take them on.
Mike said: ‘My wife and I bought them when we were together. It was a project that we wanted to do together.
‘I have so many things on my plate now with my charity work and other businesses that it’s time to sell. I don’t get out there enough. We have done the fun part and done them up. I have enjoyed making my mark and developing them but now they need someone to take them on to another stage.’
Clarenco bought Spitbank Fort in 2010 for £1m. More than £7m was spent turning it into an exclusive luxury hotel, picking up top awards and being named as a national monument.
Completing the collection, Horse Sand Fort was bought for £1m and No Man’s Fort for £3.5m in 2013. The firm spent £5m refurbishing No Man’s Fort into a luxury venue and hotel, while Horse Sands stands derelict – a Second World War time capsule that did once have planning permission to be turned into 14 apartments.
Mike said that he’s already had interest from around the world, including people looking to turn them into casinos, holiday homes and conference centres.
He said: ‘I hope someone will buy all three and turn them into an experience.’
However, the entrepreneur, who lives in Buckinghamshire, is still enjoying taking monthly trips and hosting parties for friends and family.
He said: ‘We are making a loss, and if I can’t sell them then I’ll hang on to them as they are fantastic venues. They have been there years and they are not going anywhere.’