Shopping News: Forts for Sale

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The Independent Culture
VICTORIAN sea forts, built by Palmerston to keep the French at bay, have fantastic curiosity value but very few people actually want to own one. The latest to come on the market is Horse Sand Fort, a round concrete blob in the Solent, 240ft in diameter and standing 55ft clear of the water, wrapped in a 2ft-thick, quadruple-decker sandwich of wrought iron and concrete.

The cost of building it in the 1860s, which included paying for a platform and wooden huts for the 60 to 70 construction workers and frogmen, came to pounds 424,000. But in its present derelict state its value, according to the selling agents Stickley & Kent, has dropped to between pounds 50,000 and pounds 100,000.

Forts are notoriously difficult to value, though. Horse Sand Fort's neighbour, No Man's Land, which was transformed into a James Bond-style island (with lighthouse, three helicopter pads, a tennis court, indoor swimming pool and gymnasium), was put on the market at pounds 5.75m three years ago but was revalued at pounds 950,000 at the end of this summer. Knight Frank & Rutley are still looking for a buyer.