Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Historic No Man's Fort in the Solent re-opens as hotel

No Man's Fort before
Image caption Lord Henry Palmerston commissioned five forts to run along the Solent's eastern approaches

A 19th Century sea fort built to ward off French invaders which went on to survive two world wars has been re-launched as a hotel.

No Man's Fort, situated in the Solent about 1.5 miles (2.2km) off the Isle of Wight, once housed more than 70 soldiers.

Built between 1867 and 1880, it was one of four forts intended to protect Portsmouth.

It can now sleep 44 guests and hold up to 200 people at parties.

Image copyright No Man's Fort
Image caption Soldiers were once stationed at No Man's Fort, but it will now house hotel guests
Image caption The fort was sold by the Ministry of Defence in the 1980s and parts fell into disrepair
Image caption The forts were dubbed "Palmerston's Follies" as the French threat never materialised

The Victorian structure was originally built when Prime Minister Lord Henry Palmerston commissioned five forts along the Solent's eastern approaches to defend the Royal Navy fleet at anchor in Portsmouth harbour.

Four remain today as one was abandoned during construction.

The granite and iron sea forts were built with cutting-edge Victorian engineering technology.

However they, along with other defensive forts along the south coast, were later dubbed "Palmerston's Follies" as the French threat never materialised.

During World War Two, gun emplacements on the forts formed part of Portsmouth's coastal artillery defences.

Image caption Jon Pertwee's Doctor Who faced off against Sea Devils on the fort in 1972

No Man's Fort also appeared in a 1972 episode of Doctor Who, as Jon Pertwee's Doctor fought aquatic menaces the Sea Devils.

It was eventually sold by the Ministry of Defence in the 1980s.

A previous owner was declared bankrupt after legionella bacterium was discovered at the fort in 2004 and it was bought for £4m in 2008.

Image copyright Anna Kunst Photography
Image caption Restoring the interiors of the fort was a "multi-million pound project", according to the owners
Image copyright Anna Kunst Photography
Image caption The venue includes a billiards room, hot tub, laser tag area, sauna and wine tasting room

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