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Miltary heritage under hammer

Miltary heritage under hammer
One of the UK?s most extraordinary military heritage sites is set to go under the hammer through regional land and property auctioneers on 4 November.

One of the UK"s most extraordinary military heritage sites is set to go under the hammer through regional land and property auctioneers on 4 November.

One of the UK"s most extraordinary military heritage sites is set to go under the hammer through regional land and property auctioneers on 4 November.

Spitbank Fort, which guards the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour in the Solent, has been put up for auction by owner entrepreneurs Neale Brickwood, Paul Holland and Ian Price.

They run successful businesses there, from Sunday lunches, pig roasts, bars and dance parties to day trips, weddings, funeral wakes, conferences and a two storey rental apartment, but have decided to "reluctantly" sell the freehold.

Spitbank Fort, marketed as the "ultimate venue" by the owners, goes under the hammer at the Rose Bowl stadium near Southampton at 11am on Wednesday, November 4. There may be significant interest in this unique example of British military heritage, with a guide price of between £700,000 and £800,000. The mixed-used development has a recent licence from the local authorities and fire service for up to 500 visitors, doubling previous numbers, and with extended opening hours in the evening. The fort, which is open to the public from March to December, has planning consent for both enhanced residential and commercial use.

Spitbank Fort reportedly cost nearly £120,000 to construct between 1861 and 1878 and was one of "Palmerston"s "Follies", a series of land and sea-based forts designed to repel French warships during the Napoleonic Wars but were never pressed into action. The fort was the Trident missile of its time, a crucial part of the defence of the realm, yet it became obsolete because the risk of invasion had gone by the time it was completed. Spitbank never fired a shot in anger.

The fort had more of a role in the Second World War, being fitted with anti-aircraft guns and search lights as the nearby naval base came under sustained air attack from Hitler"s Luftwaffe during 1940-41.

Spitbank, along with the other nearby sea forts, were declared surplus to Ministry of Defence requirements in the early 1960s and decommissioned by the government before reopening as a museum under private ownership.

The estimated cost of building a similar sea fort today is £130m, so whoever buys the property could be getting a bargain. The solid granite walls are 15 feet thick at basement, with 35feet thick sea foundations placed by divers. It was also constructed with a bomb proof roof of 8 feet thick concrete on roof girders.

Neale Brickwood, one of the partners selling up, said, "It"s not everyday you get to own an armoured fortress in the middle of one of the busiest waterways in the world and with some of the best vistas in the kingdom.'

"Who knows, there might be a bid from one of the thousands of sailors who use the fort as a navigational aid."

www.TurkishMaritime.com.tr

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