Sunday, May 11, 2014

England's Naval Glory Pt 1

IMHO, the best way to see sites of interest for naval history is on the water.  On May 2nd Dad and I sailed from the Hamble River to Port Solent Marina in Portsmouth Harbour passing about 1600 years (or more) of naval history along the way.

Let's set the geography first.  Dad keeps his boat on the Hamble River in Hampshire, probably the most crowded yacht anchorage in the world as seen below.  It has a long naval history and on its upper reaches lies the wreck of the Grace Dieu (Henry V's flagship) from 1418.

We sailed on May 2nd from the Hamble to Port Solent (blue line), on May 3rd from Port Solent to Cowes on the Isle of Wight (green line) and on the 5th from Cowes back to the Hamble (yellow line).

If you are into your naval history this is essentially ground zero.  Celts, Romans, Saxons, Vikings, Normans, French, Spanish, Dutchmen and Germans have all made their presence felt and their advances mostly rejected.  We sailed through the Spithead anchorage where a young Hornblower got sea sick etc, etc.

Fort Gilkicker with Spitsand in distance
Fort Gilkicker dates from the 1860s and was originally armed with RML artillery, updated to breech-loaders prior to WW1.
Fort Monkton
Fort Monkton (spellings vary on this one) dates from the American War of Independence and was updated in the Victorian age with MLRs and breechloaders.

Spitsand and HorsSand Forts
These forts  date from the 1860s and were built as stationary ironclads!  They were armed with MLRs, then BLs and even used as AA platforms in WW2.  This is quite close to where the Mary Rose sank in 1545!
Spitsand Fort

Here's how the defences look in 1914.
From the 1914 Jane's Fighting Ships.

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