Verne Citadel

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File:Uk dor verne.JPG
Built on the highest point of Portland, the Verne is surrounded by cliffs and a moat, with two entrances — one via a footbridge and one via this tunnel.

Verne Citadel is a Victorian citadel on the Isle of Portland, Dorset, England. Located on the highest point of Portland, Verne Hill, it sits in a commanding position overlooking Portland Harbour, which it was built to defend. The Verne stands 500 ft high. It later became HM Prison The Verne in 1949.

History

The citadel was built using convict labour from HM Prison Portland, and contractors, between 1857 and 1881.[1][2][3] With the construction of the two original breakwaters of Portland Harbour, Verne Hill was chosen for the harbour's main defensive fortification. Naturally inaccessible from the north and east, the south and west sides were protected with the digging of a large ditch.[4] Other defences in the area included the Nothe Fort at Weymouth,[5] the Portland Breakwater Fort on the outer breakwater, and the Inner Pierhead Fort on the inner breakwater.[6][7] The East Weare Battery below the eastern side of the Verne was considered part of the citadel's outworks.[8]

The 56-acre Verne Citadel was designed as a siege fortress, and could originally accommodate 500 troops, but later this was increased to 1000.[1] The citadel had open gun emplacements on the north, east and west sides.[2] The original armament included two 12.5-inch RML guns, five 7-inch RML guns, one 8-inch SB 54 cwt., one 10-inch RML gun, as well as a further ten mobile guns.[1] By 1889, the citadel's armament consisted of two 12.5-inch RML guns and three 7-inch RML guns.[1] The citadel's defensive role largely came to an end in the 1900s, and by 1903 the citadel's role was as an infantry barracks, with the guns removed in 1906.[3] During World War I, the Verne became the Headquarters of Coast Artillery,[1] and was armed with a 6-pounder Hotchkiss gun and a 1-pounder heavy anti-aircraft gun.[3] After 1937 the citadel's role turned to use as an infantry training centre.[2] During World War II the Verne again became the Headquarters of Coast Artillery, and was armed with two 3-inch anti-aircraft guns, and two Bofors 40mm guns.[1] A Chain Home Low Radar set was installed within the citadel, and the main magazine became a hospital.[9] After the war, the last military use of the fort was by men of the Royal Engineers, who left in 1948.[2]

The southern part of the citadel became a prison in 1949. On 1 February 1949, an advance party of 20 prisoners arrived, and since becoming established the interior of the citadel has been substantially rebuilt by prison labour. The prison itself, a Category C prison for 575 adult males, gained a considerable training programme for prisoners serving medium-to-long term sentences, including life sentences.[2] Allowing a form of public access for the first time, in November 2011, the prison service opened a cafe in an old officer's mess building. The Jailhouse Cafe continues to operate to date, offering experience to prisoners of HM Prison Portland in attempts to reduce reoffending.[10] On 4 September 2013, the Ministry of Justice announced the prison would become an immigration removal centre for 600 detainees awaiting deportation.[11] The prison closed in November 2013, and the immigration removal centre opened in February 2014. In September 2014, as part of the B-Side multimedia arts festival, a small southern section of the citadel was opened to the public. The artist Simon Ryder presented a guided tour of his art installation at the Verne.[12][13]

Grade listed features

File:Verne Battery, Portland - geograph.org.uk - 1359729.jpg
The battery at the southern entrance of the Verne

Various features of the Citadel have since become Grade Listed, and the entire fortress itself has become a scheduled monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This includes the Verne High Angle Battery too.[14] In recent years the Citadel has been listed on English Heritage's Risk Register, with the condition being described as "generally satisfactory but with significant localised problems". The main vulnerability aspect of the site is deterioration, and being in need of management, although it has been noted that the overall condition is continuing to improve.[15]

Both the North and South Entrances, as well as the south west and south east casemates, are Grade II* Listed.[16][17][18] The railings at the approach to the north entrance form part of the original construction at The Verne, and are Grade II Listed.[19] The prison's reception centre also became Grade II Listed. In September 1978, five features of the citadel became Grade II Listed, including the prison's blacksmith's shop,[20] the prison chapel,[21] the officer's block B,[22] the prison gymnasium,[23] and the detached Governor's house.[24]

The East Weare Battery, and the detention barracks of East Weare Camp (built circa 1880), both became Grade II Listed in May 1993.[25][26] The Verne High Angle Battery was built in 1892, approximately 150 metres south of the citadel's southern entrance, as part of Britain's Coastal Defences. Decommissioned in 1906, it became Grade II Listed in May 1993 too.[27]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 http://www.victorianforts.co.uk/pdf/datasheets/vernecitadel.pdf
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Official information board situated outside Southern Entrance of Verne Citadel
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Historic England. "Monument No. 451838". PastScape. Retrieved 28 September 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Super User. "The Jurassic Coast - The Verne". jurassicagent.co.uk. Retrieved 13 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Super User. "The Jurassic Coast - The Nothe Fort". jurassicagent.co.uk. Retrieved 13 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Super User. "The Jurassic Coast - Breakwater Fort". jurassicagent.co.uk. Retrieved 13 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Historic England. "Monument No. 1425459". PastScape. Retrieved 28 September 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. http://www.victorianforts.co.uk/pdf/datasheets/eastweare.pdf
  9. Historic England. "Monument No. 1478294". PastScape. Retrieved 28 September 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "About". Jailhouse Cafe. Retrieved 20 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Danny Shaw (4 September 2013). "BBC News - Prisons to close in England as super-prison site revealed". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 20 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "A tour inside the fortified walls of IRC The Verne". b-side.org.uk. Retrieved 13 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Passage Part 1". b-side.org.uk. Retrieved 13 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1002411)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 28 September 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "English Heritage | English Heritage". Risk.english-heritage.org.uk. Retrieved 20 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1203116)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 20 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1206120)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 20 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1203117)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 20 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1206113)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 20 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1280366)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 20 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1280372)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 20 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1203118)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 20 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1280377)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 20 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1281832)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 20 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1281863)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 28 September 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1205814)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 28 September 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1281857)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 28 September 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

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