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No Man's Fort in the Solent researching for a DI Andy Horton crime novel


No Man's Fort, Solent - a great place to feature in a DI Andy Horton novelThis month saw me visiting an Amazing Venue, literally, thanks to the company bearing that name because they own three landmarks, or should I say seamarks, in the Solent, all of which I am very familiar with having grown up in Portsmouth but none of which I have ever visited. On the 4 November I got the chance to change that and it was indeed a case of the boat waiting for no man as it took me on the Solent to the Victorian No Man's Fort in the aid of research for DI Andy Horton number 14. (Click on the pictures to enlarge them.)

I have featured one of the Forts before in the DI Andy Horton crime novel A Killing Coast, when a body is found floating off Spitbank Fort.  This time, for the new DI Andy Horton, I thought about the plotline connecting with something or someone actually on one of the four forts in the Solent and as three are owned by Amazing Venues I thought I should ask their permission if I could use one of their Solent Forts in the novel.  To my delight not only did they say they had no objections but they also offered to assist me with my research by taking me (and my husband, Bob) out to No Man's Fort.


Spitbank Fort, SolentAmazing Venues own three of the four Solent Forts: Spitbank, No Man's and Horse Sands. The fourth St Helen's is privately owned but not in use. Spitbank Fort and No Man's Fort have been transformed into unique hotels while Horse Sand's Fort is to remain as it was when the navy left it and is to become a museum, well worth a visit and I am sure I will be back to get more ideas for a future DI Andy Horton crime novel.



Pauline Rowson checking in at Solent Forts Terminal PortsmouthI checked in at the Solent Forts office and souvenir shop at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth (called Oyster Quays in my DI Andy Horton novels).







A rain soaked day on the Solent heading out of Portsmouth HarbourAfter which we made our way to the boat waiting to take us out of Portsmouth Harbour into a rain-drenched Solent but no matter it was great for atmosphere and I could just imagine Andy on board Solent Fort's private boat, or perhaps with PCs Elkins and Ripley on the marine police unit's launch. Not with Sergeant Cantelli though, as readers of the Horton novels know that poor Cantelli gets sea sick just looking at the sea. Perhaps though he he has no choice but to go! Could I be that cruel?


The Atrium - No Man's Fort, Solent FortsWe arrived at No Man's Fort in the pouring rain but to a very warm welcome from the fabulous staff and were soon exploring the magnificent interior. 

No Man's Fort was completed in 1880 built to protect Portsmouth Harbour from the marauding French but like the other Forts was never used for the purpose for which it was built.



A view from the lighthouse on No Man's Fort, SolentIt was originally equipped with forty nine guns and was the first Fort in England, possibly Europe, to use hydraulic power to raise the ammunition from the sea bunkers (basement) to the firing positions. It was also the first to be lighted throughout by electricity.  It certainly didn't look this sumptuous then!




Author on location research for DI Andy Horton novelNo Man’s Fort, completely renovated, opened in 2015.  It boasts a wonderful lighthouse giving spectacular views over the Solent, across to the Isle of Wight and to Portsmouth, including right into the harbour entrance.
Here I am making copious notes, even in the rain! Can you see Andy Horton here? I can.

 


On research in the tunnels and sea bunkers on No Man's FortNo Man's Fort is three times the size of Spitbank Fort and offers twenty-two huge bedroom suites, its own lazer battle, sea golf, a hot house with firepit, a large rooftop firepit, sauna, hot tub, a cabaret bar and restaurant, as well as retaining the unique sea bunker tunnels,  a must  visit for any history fanatic and especially those keen on military history. The tunnels are extremely atmospheric.   



Pauline Rowson making notes in the Ward Room No Man's Fort, SolentAfter the extensive tour, a buffet lunch and the chance to explore the fort for myself I took a break in the Ward Room to check through my notes before the return boat trip to Portsmouth.






My sincere thanks to the Solent Forts team and especially to my guide, Craig, who took us around the fort and gave me so much useful information.  I came away with lots of inspiration for DI Andy Horton, not to mention a good place to put a body!

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POSTED BY: PAULINE ROWSON
NOVEMBER 9TH, 2015 @ 6:48:49 UTC
 
 


Comments

RE: No Man's Fort in the Solent researching for a DI Andy Horton crime novel


Thoroughly enjoyed your talk at Portchester Library, looking forward to CIS 2016! Have a very Happy Christmas

COMMENT BY KAREN ALLERTON, DECEMBER 15TH, 2015 @ 20:46:53 UTC

RE: No Man's Fort in the Solent researching for a DI Andy Horton crime novel


Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for coming and look forward to seeing you at CSI Portsmouth 2016, Saturday 5 March. Happy Christmas.

COMMENT BY PAULINE ROWSON, DECEMBER 16TH, 2015 @ 7:28:09 UTC

RE: No Man's Fort in the Solent researching for a DI Andy Horton crime novel


Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for coming and look forward to seeing you at CSI Portsmouth 2016, Saturday 5 March. Happy Christmas.

COMMENT BY PAULINE ROWSON, DECEMBER 16TH, 2015 @ 7:28:27 UTC

RE: No Man's Fort in the Solent researching for a DI Andy Horton crime novel


Looked to be a great visit and material for DI Horton.

I have moved from Aldwick and miss the CSI events. I hope to come in 2016 and note the new venue.

Happy Christmas

Tony

COMMENT BY TONY SMITH, DECEMBER 18TH, 2015 @ 16:48:58 UTC

RE: No Man's Fort in the Solent researching for a DI Andy Horton crime novel


It was fascinating, Tony. Hope to see you in 2016 at CSI. Have a very Happy Christmas.

COMMENT BY PAULINE ROWSON, DECEMBER 18TH, 2015 @ 17:10:40 UTC

RE: No Man's Fort in the Solent researching for a DI Andy Horton crime novel


It was fascinating, Tony. Hope to see you in 2016 at CSI. Have a very Happy Christmas.

COMMENT BY PAULINE ROWSON, DECEMBER 18TH, 2015 @ 17:11:07 UTC
 

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