Fort Purbrook

Portsdown Hill Road, Cosham, Portsmouth.

Ghost junting photo of fort opyurbrook hampshire

Fort Purbrook, one of 6 forts built on Portsdown Hill to defend Portsmouth and its key dockyard from French attack was completed in 1870.  It is perhaps less well known than its neighbour Fort Widley, but is just as valuable historically and in terms of paranormal activity.

It was thought that the main threat of invasion was from the French troops landing further up the coast and then seizing the Hill from inland, utilising its key location to fire down upon their target.  Shortly after this major construction project was completed, the threat of invasion diminished and, with developments in munitions technology and consequent mode of warfare, the Forts, which were the result of huge financial investment, became outdated and were consequently given the name Palmerston’s Folly after the Prime Minister at the time.    

Because of its exposed position right on the edge of the hill, Purbrook should have had additional protection from two redoubts or temporary outpost fortifications, one at Crookhorn and one at Farlington.  However, the former, linked to Purbrook by a tunnel, was affected by subsistence whilst the latter was never completed. 

The design of the Fort has a 7 sided perimeter with a central spiral staircase connecting the main parade ground with subterranean tunnels leading to the main magazine and ammunitions areas. Many original features have been preserved and can still be seen by visitors, including canons, gun ports, original stencilled signs and visible firing slots in and around the V shaped barracks.

During WW1 Fort Purbrook was armed with anti-aircraft guns and thereafter was used as a siege artillery barracks.  The army left the site in 1925, but in WW11 it became an ambulance base, an important barracks and a centre for civil defence, housing the 65th Chemical Warfare Company in 1940, whose responsibilities included preparing for possible nuclear attack.  Throughout all these years, Fort Purbrook, thankfully, never faced enemy attack.

After the war the Fort played host to a naval navigational school and today is a popular activity centre.  

Paranormal activity

With such an incredible history, it is not surprising that there are many records of ghostly activity at Fort Purbrook, most of which occur down in the tunnels.  These include whispered voices, moans and knocking sounds, not to mention trigger object movement and visions of shadow figures.  Perhaps it is these figures from the past who are responsible for many investigators recording feelings of general unease and of being watched during their visit ? An amazing venue for any ghost hunt !


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