We were delighted to be asked to play recently for the wedding of Jemma and her husband on Spitbank Fort. We were really excited because a couple of us had been to Spitbank several years ago in its former guise as a venue for meals, parties and discos… and a couple of us had never been there at all. For all of those who have been to Southsea seafront the fort is a familiar sight from the land. So, what a treat to go out there!
We were meet with a cup of hot steaming tea at the Spitbank Fort Marina in Gosport, where we were then escorted onto our own private boat to take us out in good time to be ready to play while all the guests came to the fort. We enjoyed our boat journey out on the Solent, riding the waves with a view of the Spinnaker Tower. When we arrived, the boat was hoisted out of the water to allow us to disembark safely from the boat onto the fort. Quite impressive!
The Fort has had a major refurb since its purchase by the new owners in 2012. It looked stunning! Beautiful decor, tasteful interiors, warm and cozy! Not at all like it used to be. Spitbank is now an exclusive hotel venue and with the outside hot tub and firepit, with excellent views of the Solent we can see why!
We played for the ceremony of Jemma and her beau. The couple had made some great requests for new arrangements – Katy Perry’s Roar, and David Bowie’s When The World Falls Down. We enjoyed arranging these. We also arranged the Theme Tune from BBC’s Chronicles of Narnia – if you were a kid in the 90s you will remember this one!
All in all, a great wedding that we thoroughly enjoyed playing at!
Spitbank is smaller than the two main Solent forts, Horse Sand Fort and No Man’s Land Fort. Its main purpose was as a further line of defence for ships that made it past the two main forts. It is 162 feet in diameter across at its base, with 1 floor and a basement and armour plating only on the seaward side. It was originally planned to have been armed with nine 10″ eighteen ton rifled muzzle loader (RML) guns on the seaward side, and six 7″ seven ton RML guns on the landward side. However, by the time of completion the plan had changed so that the seaward side received nine 12.5-inch muzzle-loading (RML) guns. From 1884 more modern 12-inch breechloading guns were installed and these were in service until after World War I.
In 1898 the role of the fort was changed to defend against light craft and the roof was fitted out with two 4.7″ guns and searchlights. In the early 1900s all but three original large guns were removed. Minor upgrades to the smaller guns and searchlights continued through the years.
The fort was declared surplus to requirements in 1962 and disposed of by the Ministry of Defence in 1982. The fort is now privately owned and once opened as a museum. It has 50 rooms, its own dance hall, restaurant, and was once available for private functions with limited accommodation available. It was the venue for the Coalition Festival in the summer of 2009, and other psytrance and hard dance parties.
Beginning June 4, 2002 the Fort was used as a location for ‘Banged Up With Beadle’. For six weeks British TV personality Jeremy Beadle was locked in its dungeons. Cameras followed him as he coped with survival, plus learning skills with a different member of the public each week. These skills were put to the test as a live insert each Saturday evening into ‘Ant and Dec’s Takeaway’. The fort was also featured on an episode ofMost Haunted in series 8.
It has been a Scheduled Ancient Monument since 1967