Site Records


Fort Fareham: Fareham Borough Emergency Centre.

Southampton

RSG Site Visit Report: 28th March 2001

[Source: Nick Catford]

The Fareham Borough Emergency Centre is located in Fort Fareham (SU573049) one of several Palmerston Forts that ring the town. The old fort now houses the Fort Fareham Industrial Estate with many of the old barrack buildings and tunnels converted into light industrial units. Fort Fareham was home to two cold war structures as well as the Fareham Borough Emergency Centre it was also housed the 2 Group AAOR (Anti Aircraft Operations Room) for the Portsmouth and Southampton GDA (Gun Defended Area).

Photo by Keith Ward

The Emergency Centre, which was opened in the 1980's, is located in old magazines and in the forts south west caponier (a covered passage projecting into or across a dry ditch or moat to provide flanking fire). Once inside the fort, the entrance to the tunnels is in the rampart in the south west corner of the parade ground behind an old caravan that is parked under a small arched bridge. Behind two wooden doors are two heavy steel and concrete blast doors.

Photo: The South west caponier which housed the control room. Note the filtration plant on the right.
Photo by Nick Catford

Immediately inside the blast doors there is a lobby area with ventilation and filtration plant still in place on the left and on the right the entrance to three old magazines which formed part of the emergency centre.

Photo: Looking through the three magazines that formed part of the emergency centre.
Photo by Nick Catford

The three rooms, which all interconnect have white painted walls and still have heavy metal rings in the ceiling for hoisting the ammunition. The rooms are now empty apart from the far one which has a wrecked communications rack consisting of a transmitter, receiver and power supply on the floor; there is also a BT junction box on the wall. This room is sub-divided with a wooden partition. There is a lighting passage (a narrow passage surrounding a magazine with glazed apertures for oil lights in the walls between the passage and the magazine) but all the lighting apertures have been bricked up. The northern lighting passage is blocked at the far end but the southern passage turns to the left down two steps into the south west caponier. To the right is a heavy steel and concrete blast door which gives access to the standby generator room. The room has been stripped apart from exhaust piping and three concrete plinths which indicates that there were probably two generators and a control cabinet. Beyond these plinths is a second blast door which leads back onto the parade ground.

Turning left from the lighting passage the tunnel bends round to the right and widens out into the caponier. There is ventilation trucking mounted on the ceiling and several recesses left and right where the guns would have been housed. One of these alcoves contains two water tanks and another contains more filtration plant similar to that at the entrance. At the end of the caponier there is a bricked up arch but it is unclear where this leads to. It was probably sealed when the caponier, which contained the centre's control room, was converted. At present the tunnels are empty and unused.

Those present for this trip included Nick Catford, Keith Ward, Peter Cobb, Peter Walker, Robin Ware, Duncan Halford, Caroline Ford, Tony Page, John Duel, Bob Jenner etc.

[Source: Nick Catford]

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Last updated 5th April 2001

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