If you want to get away from it all, these forts, with sea views and walls steeped in history, could be just what you're looking for.
Unlike castles, forts aren’t traditionally used as residences, they’re usually working military bases. But with advances in weaponry making the vast majority of forts obsolete, they’ve started to crop up on the property market. With interesting histories and potential development opportunities, here’s three that are up for grabs.
1. Haile Sand Fort, Humberston Fitties, Humberston, for £100,000
Fancy having only sea birds and boats for neighbours and don’t mind a project? Then Haile Sand Fort in the Humber Estuary should be perfect for you.
It was built between 1915 and 1918 at an estimated cost of around £1.5 million, with around 40,000 tons of concrete and steel used in its construction. The fort was used to protect the east coast from the Germans in both World War I and World War II. While the army left in 1956, it was still manned into the early 60s.
The utilitarian-style fort is now up for auction with Blundells Auctions, at a guide price of £100,000 to £150,000. That sounds like a bargain, but considering you’ll probably need to buy a boat to get there along with the cost of making it habitable, you’ll still need deep pockets.
The circular fort sits on a hexagonal base and also features a balcony at sea level and timber and steel jetty. If you have the vision, this unique property could be transformed into an island hotel. Similar forts in the Solent near Portsmouth having been successfully developed into luxury retreats and tourist attractions.
2. The Defensible Barracks in Pembroke Dock, Pembrokeshire, for £1m
This Grade II-listed, Victorian era fort and barracks was built in the mid-1840s to house the Royal Marines. In 2009, it was declared the second most endangered Victorian or Edwardian building in Britain. It’s been up for sale since June, and although its price has been slashed by £200,000, it’s still likely to set you back around £1m via Purplebricks.
It’s a 20-sided stone fort surrounded by a dry moat with masonry walls and comes complete with a parade ground at the centre. There’s also a fortified gatehouse that sits in the middle of the north wall that originally had a wooden drawbridge, although a more substantial bridge has since been built.
It’s been partly renovated. The main building forms a quad, one side of which has been converted into modern apartments. There’s planning permission in place for a 56-bedroom hotel, while a building on the north east battlement has the go-ahead to be turned into a coffee shop. Other possibilities could include use as a wedding venue and converting the basement for commercial use as restaurants and bars.
3. Fort Richmond, St. Saviour, Guernsey, for £1.5m
For the first time since it was built 160 years ago, Fort Richmond is up for sale. It sits in around two acres of land on the west coast of Guernsey just 150 metres from the shore and offers spectacular sea views.
The fort was built in 1855 as a defensible barracks and remained in military hands until the early 20th century. During World War II, the fort was occupied by German forces who had transformed Guernsey into a stronghold to keep Allied troops at bay. After the war, it was leased out by the government to a surf club and then to a youth group, but was then left empty for several decades.
Now it has planning permission to be converted into a spectacular five-bedroom home. It’s had a significant price-cut since it first hit the market for £2.5m in 2015, but at £1.5m (through Cooper Brouard) plus the cost of the refurbishment, it’s a lot to take on.
The end product would be worth it though. Five bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms are planned, along with a vast open plan kitchen, living and dining space that would be on the second floor to take full advantage of the views.