Ahoy there and welcome to No Man’s Fort – a fort in the middle of the Solent, filming location for Classic Doctor Who episode The Sea Devils (1972) ! I was very lucky to be a guest of AmaZing Venues and Solent Forts so that I could report on No Man’s Fort for my Project Indigo readers.
In case you haven’t heard of The Solent, it is a strait, or narrow channel of water, that separates the mainland from the Isle of Wight. I left my house early in the morning to travel to Portsmouth and parked my TARDIS at the Historic Dockyard. I checked in at the Solent Forts office at Gunwharf Quays and mooched about the shops until it was time to get the boat.
We embarked at City Quay and caught the boat called the Ashleigh R. While I was waiting I had a great view of The Spinnaker Tower which was being painted. It was covered in people dangling off the tower that looked like little ants wearing crash helmets! The waves were very bumpy and on the way out to sea we followed a ferry on it’s way to Spain. The sea rippled like snakeskin and on the top deck it was like walking on a moving bus. First we dropped people off at Spitbank Fort then carried on to No Man’s. The poor Doctor had to get a dinghy to the fort as he couldn’t use his TARDIS.
In The Sea Devils the Third Doctor and Jo Grant visit the sea fort to investigate why ships in the area are mysteriously disappearing. In the episode the sea fort was being converted to a SONAR Testing Station. As we approached the fort it looked smaller from the outside than I expected. Jon Pertwee and Katy Manning had to climb a ladder to get on to the fort which looked very dangerous but I was relieved that I had to walk up a ramp instead! I was expecting the fort to be dark and gloomy – instead it was light and cheerful as it has been converted into a luxury hotel which opened in April 2015.
On arrival at the fort the Doctor and Jo were attacked – but I was very kindly greeted and welcomed onto the fort with a drink and a chance to relax in the Atrium. The adults were given a glass of Champagne. Children are not normally allowed on the fort but they made a special exception for me!
Next all the visitors were given a guided tour of the fort and learnt about it’s history. No Man’s Fort is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and is one of 30 forts built to defend the UK from the French under the orders of the Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston. Work started in 1865 and continued into the 1880s but it was never used and a shot was never fired in anger. The forts became known as ‘Palmerston’s Follies’ because by the time they were completed the threat had passed and the technology was out of date. The fort is now owned by AmaZing Venues, founded by Mike Clare, along with Spitbank Fort and Horse Sand Fort in the Solent. Spitbank is also a hotel and Horse Sand is currently home to lots of sea birds but will become a museum in the future.
After the tour it was time for lunch. We had a buffet lunch in the Mess Hall on the Lower Level, and I filled up on delicious bread and butter and Indian rice as I have a wobbly K-9 tooth. I did manage to eat chocolate and nut brownies and apple for pudding.
After lunch we were free to explore wherever we wanted. My companion and I took Scrabble up to the top-deck and played a game whilst enjoying views of the Isle of Wight, which I had only just visited on holiday. It was definitely the most picturesque setting for a Scrabble match and I won-thanks to a triple-letter score on the last round! Also on the deck were a boules track, Jacktar’s bar, a Hot House, a Fire Pit, a BBQ area and some Hot Tubs. There was even a Helipad which could be useful for materialising a TARDIS!
There was an even better view from the top of the lighthouse – it was panoramic and I could see the Isle of Wight and the mainland and I used some binoculars to see clearly.
Next I went down to the Upper Level and explored the luxurious hotel rooms. The rooms were named after famous ships. My favourite was HMS Victory. There was a portrait of Horatio Nelson on the wall – in the Sea Devils the Doctor says that he knew Nelson personally.
The walls in the corridor were decorated with quotes by Winston Churchill – but I didn’t see my favourite ‘K.B.O’! There lots of places to relax including a snooker room, a pool room and a games room. In the episode Clark and Hickman played cards to relax whilst they were staying on the fort, until they were interrupted by a Sea Devil. I bet they would have liked having all these rooms to play games in. There was even a French Bar on the Lower Level.
The bottom level was the Sea Level bunker and the tunnels felt the most likely place on the fort to run into a Sea Devil! I saw a LaZer Battle arena which looked like it would be a lot of fun and a war museum where I bumped into the Doctor’s old pal Churchie aka Winston Churchill! I could hear the sea rippling against the side and I wondered if I was standing right above the Sea Devil’s base which was discovered beneath the foundations of the fort.
Sadly at 4 o’clock it was time to go back to Portsmouth and it was back to the Embarkation Hall to board the Ashleigh R on the bumpy sea. I really enjoyed my special trip to No Man’s Fort and would love to return another day. All the staff and my fellow visitors were so friendly and welcoming and the whole day was a real adventure.
Thank you so much to AmaZing Venues and Solent Forts for making it possible for me and my companion to visit such a special place, we are both very grateful. If you would like to visit No Man’s Fort yourself, for lunch or to stay overnight, please find out more here.
In my last post I said I would be writing about a special museum – that will actually be NEXT time as I was so keen to tell you about my visit to No Man’s Fort straightaway! I hope you will join me for my next adventure through time and space.
(Disclosure – my companion and I were invited guests at No Man’s Fort but all words and opinions are my own.)