Portland Breakwater Fort

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The Portland Breakwater Fort is a fort structure built to defend Portland Harbour. It is located at the Isle of Portland, Dorset, England. The fort is located on the outer breakwater in the commercial port of Portland Harbour - 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from the land. It has been a Grade II Listed building since 1978.[1] The fort is not open to the public and remains derelict.[2][3] On the opposite side of the next stretch of the breakwater is the Portland Breakwater Lighthouse.

History and design

The fort was constructed between 1868-1875. Designed by Captain E. H. Steward of the Royal Engineers, the circular fort was first planned in 1859.[2] Due to subsidence, the fort was constructed on a granite base, based on a 200-foot (61 m) diameter ring of stone laid down on the seabed. The main floor consists of gun rooms and ports for 14 heavy guns. Below the gun floor are the shell and cartridge stores and engine rooms. The fort also has its own harbour and ancillary barrack buildings.[4] The fort cost £75,968 to build[5] and was built when Britain's military might was at its height in the 19th century and Portland Harbour was the largest man-made harbour in the world.[3]

In 1892, the fort was installed with seven 12.5-inch RML cannons, and these were replaced in 1907 by two 6-inch BL guns and two 12-pounder QF guns. During the First World War it was armed with two 6-inch BL Mk. VII guns. In 1940-41 the fort was recommissioned, where it operated as an examination battery. During combat, thirty men would have been stationed on the fort at any one time.[3] It was reduced to care and maintenance by 1945, abandoned in 1956 and handed over to the navy.[4] For decades, remains of a cut up 12 inch R.M.L. cannon can be seen out of the water.[6]

In 1995, the Dorset Sculpture Trust attempted to seek finds from the Millennium Fund to turn site into an arts centre.[4] In 2005, BBC News published an article based on the fort's history after BBC Spotlight's Jonathan Hudston had an exclusive tour of the fort.[3] It was estimated that it would take £10 million to repair the fort for commercial use, and that it was not a priority for the port owners.[3][7]


  1. Good Stuff IT Services. "Breakwater Fort - Portland - Dorset - England". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 2013-01-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Portland Breakwater Fort". Ecastles.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-01-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Breakwater Fort. "Dorset - History - Breakwater Fort". BBC. Retrieved 2013-01-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Detailed Result: BREAKWATER FORT". Pastscape. 2006-08-08. Retrieved 2013-01-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. http://victorianforts.co.uk/pdf/datasheets/portlandbreakwater.pdf
  6. "Breakwater Fort, Portland (700770)/12 inch R.M.L. remains, which were cut up and dumped into the sea". SouthEast Defence Photos. Retrieved 2013-01-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Anderton, Michael J. (2000). World War Two Coastal Batteries. p. 70.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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