Barracks, Forts and Ramparts

books and barracks

Barracks, Forts and Ramparts. It is such an important piece of work, deep, intelligent and timely, with resonance and effect to help shape the future of Portsmouth – James Hamilton

Barracks, Forts and Ramparts: Regeneration Challenges for Portsmouth Harbour's Defence Heritage
by Celia Clark and Martin Marks OBE
Tricorn Books 2020 £30 + £6 post and packing. Orders to 8 Florence Road Southsea PO5 2NE or pages, illustrations, bibliographies, references, index ISBN 9781912821648

Portsmouth Harbour has one of the densest concentrations of specialised defence establishments in the UK. Its deep water, narrow entrance from Spithead within the shelter of the Isle of Wight and proximity to our rivals on the high seas made it ideal for the development of the dockyard. For many centuries fleets and armies sailed from the country's premier naval port to fight the French, Spanish, Dutch and latterly Germans and Russians, and to supply and garrison the global British empire. Military, naval and air force support facilities developed around the harbour: gunwharf, victualling and ordnance yards, airfields, hospitals, barracks for Royal Marines, navy and army, all defended by successive rings of fortifications, which until after WWI were guarded by a substantial army presence.

As participants and observers inspired by living in Portsmouth and Gosport for fifty years, Celia Clark and Martin Marks document the redundancy of the physical survivors of the harbour's rich military and naval past and the processes by which they move on to different futures. Over the past half-century, many former defence establishments have found new uses – or are in the process of doing so. This book explores this complicated transition – with first-hand accounts by the participants. As the wheel of time turns, it takes with it the living memory of how these extraordinary transformations from military to civilian life were achieved. The book offers a snapshot of the current condition of the dense historic defence properties around the harbour in the second decade of the twenty-first century.

The development of building conservation policy and practice at national level and the 1970 drivers of conservation locally are explored, with a focus on historic Ministry of Defence properties and their exceptional status. Gosport's first Heritage Action Zone focusses on regenerating the town's rich defence legacy. Heritage tourism developed in Portsmouth dockyard and in Gosport as the Mary Rose, HMS Warrior, M33 and HMS Alliance and historic boats were added to the attractions of the Heritage Area, for which the Naval Base Property Trust was given responsibility. The Royal Naval Museum developed into the National Museum of the Royal Navy. Museums and galleries were developed in formerly military spaces. The differing fortunes of two hospitals, Haslar Naval Hospital and Queen Victoria Hospital, and two ordnance yards, HMS Vernon/Gunwharf are contrasted. A naval airfield, HMS Daedalus is now a civil airport. The harbour's twelve forts and batteries present particular challenges to reuse. Education, research, physical activities and civilian housing now occupy former defence buildings, while fields of fire, military lines and bastions offer welcome public open space.

As Portsmouth Harbour contains in microcosm both the challenges and varied examples of reuse of historic defence sites, the book ends with a research agenda for further dissemination of experience and good practice to other post-defence communities in different parts of the world.

This book is for people who enjoy living or working in or visiting the many historic defence sites around the harbour who wish to find out more about their history and how they came to be preserved and new uses found for them. Specialist interest groups who will find it useful include geographers, planners and other built environment professionals working on sustainable conversion and adaptation of these complex structures, local authorities responding to defence site disposals, people with interests in local and post-defence history – and those who remember what happened, as well as the participants in the transformation process at the time.