The story of Golden Hill Fort
Golden Hill Fort was constructed at a cost of £38,000 between 1862 and 1871, although in reality it was ever evolving and being altered. It was part of the ‘Palmerston’ chain of defences built in response to a perceived French invasion threat. In the Western Solent they were designed to protect the Needles Passage and in the East to protect the eastern entrance to the Solent and Portsmouth harbour. Golden Hill Fort was built as a defensible barracks for the soldiers stationed at the batteries at Warden Point, Cliff End and Fort Victoria on the coast and to guard the access to the Freshwater peninsula if the Island was invaded.
It was surrounded by a dry ditch and earth bank, the hexagonal two-storey structure accommodated eight officers and 128 other ranks of the Royal Artillery and a 14-bed hospital, a much larger fort had been planned. Guns on roof to cover the line of the Western Yar. Reserves could counter raidings on the coast.
The surrounding area cleared to allow “uninterrupted and free field of fire for some distance”.To start with it was occupied by two companies of coast gunners.
1888 The Fort becomes the Western District School of Gunnery for regular and volunteer artillerymen. New buildings outside the fort include a drill hall, School of Instruction, storerooms and barrack blocks to the north east.
1897 A new hospital is constructed in three buildings to the north of the drill hall and new married quarters nearby.
1903 The guns were removed.
1914 The Fort continues as a training facility and as an infantry training depot for the Duke of Cornwall’s Light infantry. Over 30,000 troops trained here between 1915 and 1918. Infantry battalions and gunners continue to occupy the site after the First World War.
1939 The Fort serves as a British and Canadian infantry training depot during the Second World War.
1946 It now houses the Royal Army Service Corp’s Junior Non-Commissioned
Officers Training School and billets National Service trainees attending the RASC’s Water Transport Training Unit headquartered at Fort Victoria.
1962 The army relinquishes the site.