Bastion No 1

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HCC Site ID. 1747 Parish:
Designations: CA, LP, SMR Area: n/k
Access: Public Access Ownership: Gosport Borough Council

Location and Site

Bastion No 1 is situated to the south east of Gosport town centre, immediately south of Trinity Church with Haslar Road on its western boundary. The former vicarage and garden are on the northern part of the Bastion. On the south side is a moat with a sluice gate to Haslar Marina and Portsmouth harbour. Just to the north of the sluice is Watergate, a terrace apartment block, which forms the eastern boundary of the site. Above the moat, the ground rises steeply to form a rampart, with a pathway encircling it just above the lower edge of the moat. A glade of trees and shrubs form the inner part of the rampart.

Historic Development

The 19th century Bastion No 1 and the moat were part of the fortifications called ‘The Gosport Lines’, which surrounded Gosport to protect the harbour and town from attack by the French. The Gosport Lines were part of the overall fortifications for Portsmouth and the surrounding areas, started in the time of Charles II (1660), who placed the responsibility for construction the defences on his chief engineer, Sir Bernard De Gomme. The rebuilding, enlargement and improvement of De Gomme’s Gosport Lines began in 1748 and continued for half a century.
The existing Bastion No 1 behind Trinity Church and the adjoining Haslar Gate across the road to Haslar Bridge (demolished in 1959-60) were the last part of the Gosport Lines to be built in 1802 using convict labour. Bastion No 1 is a unique example of urban fortifications and was made an ancient monument in 1970. There are believed to be only two others in the country. The Ministry of Defence (MOD) originally owned the site but in 1955 it was bought by Gosport Borough Council. The site includes: the grassed earth bank (ramparts) part of the old Gosport Lines, built in 1802, the gun emplacements on the top of the bank, the pathway at the bottom of the bank, the moat, and caponier – a covered passage across a ditch round a fort that served as a means of access to the outworks, protecting troops from direct fire. The sluice gates were built after 1840 to keep the water in the moat at low tide.
By 1979, the site had become very overgrown and was in need of urgent repair, and a major restoration scheme began. Work included: restoring the wall facing Trinity Church with handmade bricks from Kent; freeing the sluice gate which separates the moat from Portsmouth Harbour; clearing the moat of weeds and rubbish; and restoring the 14 gun position which overlooks Haslar Creek. About 100 trees were removed, and dense undergrowth cleared. There were a number of protests at the time as people were concerned about the survival of the wildlife in the area. However, restoration was needed, and there appears to be plenty of wildlife on the site now. The restoration project funded by Gosport Borough Council and the Department of Environment cost more than £60,000 and took 3 years to complete.
After restoration of the Bastion in 1981, the land adjoining the Vicarage was bought from the Council by Portsmouth Diocesan Parsonage Board as a garden for the Vicarage, and a wall was built around it.

Current Description

The site is now open to the public and some new restoration has been completed to the entrance along Haslar Road (2000). There is another entrance through large and tall wooden gates next to the Vicarage, opposite the Church. The gates are locked at dusk by the Trinity Green Preservation Society. The site is now very well looked after, although there is no warden on the site, and there has been some vandalism e.g. burning the grass bank, rubbish thrown in the moat and damage to trees. The wooden sides of the moat are broken in places, the earth crumbles into the water, and weeds on the surface of the water, on the edges of the moat, are an eyesore. At the top of the ramparts is a sloping grassed pathway that leads down to a grassed and wooded glade at the back of the Vicarage. This is also reached through the large wooden gates. There are many mature trees here, and shrubs, mainly poplar, elderberry, some oaks, holly and rhododendron bushes. There is now a wall round the Vicarage garden, but this area was once open and part of the Vicarage. This is a lovely area for the public to walk around with some good views across to Walpole Park.
Further restoration has taken place (see link) and the Council plans for the future (autumn 2020) include: linking the Millennium Promenade through the site to join up the historic Gosport Lines defences from the bastion to Mumby Road, and creating a green link around the town centre.

Summary & Significance

Bastion 1 is a rare survivor of a 1802 military rampart that formed defences to Portsmouth harbour. In 1840, sluice gates were constructed to allow water to remain in the moat at low tide. Since the local council acquired the land from the MOD in 1955 a number of renovations have taken place, and it has become an historically important and popular public open space.

HGT Research c2000, update March 2020

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Bastion No 1, Gosport

Bastion No 1, Gosport

Gates are locked at night

Gates were locked at night in 2015. Photos: May 2015

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