Palmerston’s Follies

The postie came again yesterday, with what is the final batch of new masters for Salute. Such is our awesome efficiency (!) that these are already sitting in slowly curing rubber, ready for casting later this week. However, I swiftly photographed them before they were submerged in silicon for another Salute preview.

Palmerston’s Follies was the derogatory term applied, initially to forts around the Portsmouth area, but then to a swathe of forts built in the late C.19th. The term is taken from the First Lord of the Treasury, Lord Palmerston, during whose tenure the first installations were built (see here and here for more information). They were built in response to a supposed threat of French invasion which of course never came.

This new batch of models represents some of the defences around Portsmouth, in particular the four forts built in the Solent. Horse Sands and No Mans Land forts were the largest and nearly identical. Both were circular structures, around 200 feet in diameter. Initially the plans included five twin turrets on the roof but these were abandoned before construction began – but we’ve decided to make both the final version as built, and the proposed turreted design.

NoMansHorse

Spithead was also circular although somewhat smaller, with only one gun deck.

Spithead

The last Solent fort was the rather oddly shaped St Helens fort. This was intended to be much larger but the sea bottom was found to be very unstable and unable to take the weight of the proposed design, so a much smaller fort was built instead with just three guns.

St Helens

As if that wasn’t enough, I’ve also modelled Southsea Castle, which lies on the eastern Solent coast. The was originally built in 1544 as one of Henry VIII’s Device forts. It was heavily updated in 1814, with the whole north wall being moved 20-30 feet north which changed the layout completely. I’ve modelled both designs, as built (left) and after the reconstruction (right).

Southsea

I must thank Phillip Russell for his initial idea and help with plans and details of the Solent forts. All of the forts have been modified since construction, two are now luxury hotels and all sorts of extra buildings and towers have been added – it was quite a job working out what was original and what was added later, hopefully I have most of it right. St helens in particular was quite tricky to model as photographs of the upper surface are very hard to come by.