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Dorset Map

The construction of the breakwaters around Portland Harbour between 1849 and 1872 rendered the old Tudor Device Forts of Portland and Sandsfoot redundant, as they were now inside the harbour.

The Victorians, therefore built a number of new defences to protect what was to become an important Naval Base.

Amongst these was the Nothe Fort, built between 1860 and 1872 by 26 Company, the Royal Engineers at a cost of £120,000.

It was originally provided with twelve cannons: two 64 pounders, four 9" and six 10" cannons. Seven of these were replaced in the 1890s by massive 12½" cannons, weighing 38 tons and capable of firing an 800 pound shell over a range of three and half miles.

In 1905 with the invention of white powder the old black powder cannons were replaced by and three 6" guns on the ramparts. These new breach loading guns could fire 100 pound armour piecing shells over a range of 10 miles with greater accuracy and a better rate of fire.

Like most of the so called Palmeston Follies, Nothe Fort did not see action against an enemy until World War 2, when the main threat came from the air.

A platform was built on the north-west corner of the fort equipped, at first, with a Vickers pom-pom. This was later replaced by a 40mm Bofors Gun. However, the main anti-aircraft guns on the Nothe Peninsula (four 3.7" guns) were installed in what is now the car park nearest the fort.

In 1956 Coastal Defence was abandoned, and in 1961 the fort was purchased by the local council. For a long time it remained derelict and became vandalised.

In the 1980s during the Cold War, part of the fort was used as a Nuclear Bunker for the civil administration. About a third of the Magazine Level was converted into a command and accommodation area protected by heavy blast doors.

Around this time efforts to restore the fort began. Efforts which resulted in it becoming the splendid museum it now is.

For Opening Times, Admission Prices, etc., please see the official site listed below.