Notes: Located in Golden Hill Park which is accessed from a junction on Hill Lane. Site is not sign-posted for road users although the public footpath is marked. On-road parking is possible in the vicinity.
WHAT IS THERE TO SEE?
A Victorian Fort in a hexagonal design. The interior is now private accommodation and out of bounds. However a public footpath allows the exterior of the fort to be viewed and includes access to the earth bank surrounding the structure.
NO OFFICIAL SITE
1. Golden Hill Fort took its name from the yellow laburnum bushes that grow on the island.
2. The fort was intended to garrison Hatherwood, Cliff End and Warden Point Batteries.
A defendable barracks for troops manning coastal defence batteries guarding the Western Solent, Golden Hill Fort was a two storey facility surrounded by a dry moat. Originally intended to support eighteen light guns, it was never fully armed. It later was used as an infantry depot and is now a series of private apartments.
HISTORY OF GOLDEN HILL FORT
Like Bembridge Fort on the other side of the island, Golden Hill Fort was built as part of the recommendations from the 1859/60 Royal Commission. This was initiated following French re-armament initiated by Napoleon III and in particular to the launch of first Ironclad warship ('La Gloire'; the Glory). This armoured vessel outclassed anything in the Royal Navy threatening British maritime superiority and with it access to Britain’s growing number of overseas territories which depended entirely upon freedom of access to the sea. The commission recommended construction of rings of defences around the sea and land approaches to the key Royal Navy dockyards and for the western channel into the Solent a number of new batteries were constructed. Golden Hill Fort was designed to act as a defendable barracks for the soldiers manning these facilities. 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.
Work started on the fort in 1863 with it constructed in a hexagonal configuration on the summit of a hill with clear views of the Western Solent. The two storey brick built structure was protected by a dry ditch (covered by three caponiers) and an earth bank that protected the sides of the fort from direct fire. The facilities within were intended to support up to 128 men plus 8 Officers and included a hospital. The roof was configured to support eighteen light guns although these were never actually installed; the most extensive weaponry fitted were six 40 pounder guns.
The invasion fears of the 1860s passed without incident and by 1888 the fort was being used as a Gunnery School. Later, during both World Wars, it was used as an infantry training depot. The site was released by the Ministry of Defence in 1962 and, after a fifteen years stint as an industrial estate, was briefly opened as a museum. Regrettably in 2005 it was handed over for development into private apartments.