During the late 1800s, Britain constructed three Solent forts to protect its most important naval base against attacks from Napoleon III’s navy. Ordered by Lord Palmerston, the British Prime Minister of that time, the three forts are located in Portsmouth Harbour, and include Spitbank Fort, Horse Sand Fort, and No Man’s Land Fort. Once armed with 12.5-inch muzzle-loading (RML) guns, the disarmed forts now have completely different purpose after a £3 million (US$4.85 million) makeover – they will be an exclusive island retreats. The whole project is under the baton of Mike Clare, former Chairman and CEO of Dreams Plc (the company is best known for their large portfolio of iconic and unusual venues across the UK).
The initial plans for the forts are to renovate No Man’s Land Fort into a luxury 30 bedroom venue, which can be accessed by helicopter from its own private helipad or from its own private marina.
The plans for Horse Sand Fort are at present to turn the venue into a time capsule museum, which historic setting will serve as a memory of the fort’s former history, showing the original gun carriages, shell stores, armour plated walls and original signage. It is hoped that the local schools and universities can also use Horse Sand Fort for educational trips.
Spitbank fort has already been completed and has been converted into a luxury hotel that boasts 8 bedroom suites. It also includes three bars, three restaurants, rooftop champagne bar, wine cellar, library, rooftop hot pool, sauna and sun decks and is the ultimate destination for private parties and corporate events. The current owners bought the fort in 2010 and after extensive renovations, transformed into a hotel that opened its door in the second half of 2012.