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Thread: Woodlands Fort, Plymouth, March 2018

  1. #1
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    Default Woodlands Fort, Plymouth, March 2018


    1. The History
    Woodland Fort is one of the Palmerston Forts that form Plymouth's north-eastern defences that were constructed in the late 1800s with the purpose of defending the Royal Dockyard at Devonport from the possibility of a French attack, under the leadership of Napoleon III. Construction commended in 1863 but was delayed when the contractors failed in 1866. It was later completed in 1870 at a total cost of 27,973.

    The fort is trapezoidal in shape and incorporates many advanced Victorian fort design innovations from the time. It housed 18 guns in total with two in Haxo casemates. The soldiers' barracks, with room for 100 soldiers, are situated to the north of the parade ground while the now-ruined cookhouse is located down the north-west side. The magazines are to the north east. There is a caponier to the north west covering the west flank and a counterscarp gallery to the north east, which was armed with four 32 pounder SBBL guns as well as serving as extra accommodation for the soldiers. This can be seen from the plan below:

    woodlands by HughieDW, on Flickr

    This gallery was accessed via a tunnel heading beneath the ditch. The purpose of the gallery was to provide flanking fire along the north and east lengths of the defensive ditch. The gatehouse is at the south of the fort and retains some elements of the fort’s original drawbridge mechanism.

    It was apparently disarmed in 1895 and then used mainly for accommodation during World War I. It was then sold off by the MOD in 1920 but re-occupied by the military during World War II. It was then used by Devon County Council as library and community centre. The fort is now largely derelict, although the aforementioned barracks are still in use and maintained by a group of volunteers. However, the rest of the fort suffers from a lack of maintenance and has been subject to extensive vandalism. Both the caponier and counterscarp are inaccessible from within the fort as both access tunnels are now blocked off. When Crownhill Road was enlarged, due south of the fort, the ditch was filled in allowing easy access to the fort on foot, although the site is not open to the public.

    2. The Explore:
    Due to my train arriving in Plymouth late and time being tight I caught the bus over to Woodland’s fort as the evening was drawing in. Fortunately, I got there before the sun had gone down and started to explore this fantastic Palmerston Fort. The barracks are still used by a social club but the rest of the fort is abandoned. By the looks of recent pictures, they have now cleared a lot of the undergrowth off the batteries on three sides of the fort. Sadly, there was no entry point to the caponier (that I could squeeze through!) and I forgot to check the counterscarp gallery out (revisit therefore required). That aside though this was a very pleasant way to spend an hour of so of the remaining daylight.

    3. The Pictures:

    The entrance gate to the south by the main road:

    img5836 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Part of the fort’s original drawbridge mechanism:

    img5837 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Rear view of the entrance gate:



    img5838 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Barracks detail:

    img5841 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Covered gun emplacement:

    img5844 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Interior shot:

    img5846 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img5847 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img5848 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Old gun mount:

    img5849 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img5850 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Inside one of the magazines:

    img5851 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Another gun mount:

    img5854 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Looking out of the west side of the fort:

    img5859 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img5860 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img5878 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    On to the cook-house:

    img5867 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img5868 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Pretty much gone:

    img5872 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    …and in the grip of ivy:

    img5873 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img5874 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img5875 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img5876 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Overview of cook-house (including obligatory shopping trolley) with barracks at the back right:

    img5877 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Round the west side to the caponier:

    img5879 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    All sealed-up:

    img5880 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    ..apart from here. Too tighter squeeze? For me…definitely!

    img5882 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Then there’s the water hazard!

    img5884 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Looking down on the caponier:

    img5886 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img5887 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    …and the north-west ditch (now moat!):

    img5888 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Looking along the northern ditch:

    img5891 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Thanks for looking!

    img5892 by HughieDW, on Flickr
    Last edited by HughieD; 29th Mar 18 at 23:18.

  2. Thanks given by: freeclimb, Mearing, Mikeymutt, mockingbird, Old Wilco, prettyvacant71, Rubex, smiler, thorfrun, Tigershark
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  4. #2
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    Got to love a good fort mate.cracker that one
    I like to go where others fear to tread.

  5. Thanks given by: HughieD
  6. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikeymutt View Post
    Got to love a good fort mate.cracker that one
    Cheers mate. Would love to go back and squeeze into the Caponia...or escarpment gallery.
    Last edited by HughieD; 3rd Apr 18 at 20:50.

  7. #4
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    Interesting history you found on this place HD, and thoroughly documented with decent pics...love reflections in the moat it was worth dragging that shopping trolley on the train all the way from South Yorkshire, I'd have done the same but no admitted it either
    ...

  8. Thanks given by: HughieD
  9. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by prettyvacant71 View Post
    Interesting history you found on this place HD, and thoroughly documented with decent pics...love reflections in the moat it was worth dragging that shopping trolley on the train all the way from South Yorkshire, I'd have done the same but no admitted it either
    Ha ha....you've rumbled me PV!

  10. #6
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    Its good to see Plymouth still gets a look in. This ones down the road from me and I take the kids there most years blackberry picking. There is access to several of Palmerston's follies in the area if you know where to look.

    Your information was very interesting. I'm feeling inspired again just in time for the good weather and long evenings

    Thanks

  11. Thanks given by: HughieD
  12. #7
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    It looks like a nice place for a wander! Great stuff as usual!

  13. Thanks given by: HughieD
  14. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richardsandson View Post
    Its good to see Plymouth still gets a look in. This ones down the road from me and I take the kids there most years blackberry picking. There is access to several of Palmerston's follies in the area if you know where to look.

    Your information was very interesting. I'm feeling inspired again just in time for the good weather and long evenings

    Thanks
    Glad you enjoyed it. Can't think of a better location to BlackBerry pick. Those Palmerston follies sound interesting!

    Quote Originally Posted by Rubex View Post
    It looks like a nice place for a wander! Great stuff as usual!
    Cheers Rubex. Well worth a look if you find yourself in this neck of the woods along with Lentney Battery and the elusive Drake Island.

  15. Thanks given by: Rubex

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