Historic forts will be a new jewel in this city’s crown

Eve Myles stars in the new BBC series Keeping Faith'  Picture: BBC Wales

SEAN BLACKMAN: Keeping the faith

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What a wonderful thing it is for Portsmouth that the forts we’ve become so accustomed to admiring from afar are being given a new lease of life.

Entrepreneur Mike Clare should be congratulated for the commitment he’s shown to the three iconic forts that stand proud in the middle of the Solent.

While Spitbank has already been transformed into a luxury retreat and No Man’s Land will become a hotel, it’s Horse Sand that sounds the most intriguing of the lot.

For while hiring out Spitbank comes with a price tag that not many (if any of us) could afford, Horse Sand is to become a museum – and that will be a great addition to what we already have to offer visitors. For a city not short of interesting attractions, this will be yet another jewel in our crown.

Just imagine the thrill of hopping on board a boat to visit a museum surrounded by the sea. We’re delighted that Mr Clare and his company plan to showcase much of the forts’ own history within this museum because that sounds very fitting.

Familiarity means we have perhaps got used to the spectacle of the forts, but with fresh eyes it is possible to understand what a unique opportunity these redevelopment plans really are.

In many ways it is a shame that the Palmerston Follies label has lasted the test of time because these forts shouldn’t be classed as a waste.

The fact that a shot was never fired in anger from them only suggests that the original creation of the forts as a ring of defence worked.

And now the three imposing buildings are to be used all over again – this time bringing a new generation of visitors across the sea.

Mr Clare is making a significant investment in restoring all three forts back to their former glory. It’s great to hear that the renovations are being done sympathetically because the history of these unusual sea defences deserves to be preserved.

We know there is still a lot of work to be done, but look forward to the day when all three forts are back in action.