Notes: Situated on Culver Down Road off Sandown Road the fort is not signposted so instead follow the sign for Culver Down off Sandown Road. Dedicated car parking just beyond the fort.
WHAT IS THERE TO SEE?
A Victorian Fort in a hexagonal design. The interior is out of bounds unless attending one of the National Trust tours but the perimeter can be walked around. The fort is heavily overgrown and is currently used by industry.
Hexagonal Design. The fort was built in a hexagonal configuration with deep dry ditches enabling the fort to be ‘sunk’ into the terrain.
Built to provide Command and Control facilities for the Eastern side of the Isle of Wight, Bembridge Fort has visibility of movements over Sandown Bay and the Eastern Solent. Within twenty years of being built it had been re-tasked as a test facility for anti-torpedo measures but assumed a coastal defence role again during World War 2.
HISTORY OF BEMBRIDGE FORT
Constructed in a hexagonal configuration surrounded by a dry moat, Bembridge Fort was built as part of the 1859/60 Royal Commission improvements to coastal defence. Situated on Bembridge Down the fort had clear visibility of events in Sandown Bay and the Eastern Solent enabling it to function as the command and control centre for the Western Batteries on the Isle of Wight. In this role Bembridge controlled Redcliff Battery, Yaverland Battery, Sandown Battery and Sandown Barrack Battery. Furthermore, should the island have been invaded, the fort would have acted as a redoubt - a final enclosure where troops could retreat to in the event the area was overrun - the armament of six 7-inch guns supported this function.
In 1880 the fort was re-tasked as accommodation and a test facility for anti-torpedo devices. Cables were run from the fort down to the sea to facilitate these tests. Nevertheless the fort remained armed and in 1893 and again in 1905 the weapons were upgraded; by WWI the fort was armed with two 5-inch howitzers and several machine guns.
However during World War II it re-assumed coastal defense duties and was used as a fire control centre for the batteries at Nodes Point and Culver Down. Furthermore two Allen Williams turrets were installed; these were pre-fabricated steel turrets operated by a single man for use of handheld personnel weapons under cover. One of the turrets survives and is a rare example of such a structure in the UK. At the end of the war the MOD withdrew from the site and the fort is now in the care of the National Trust albeit it is currently in a heavily overgrown state and leased out to industry.
Guarding the high ground to the east of the island - Bembridge overlooks both Sandown Bay and the Eastern Solent.