Solent fort goes for high price tag - but who's the buyer?
Spitbank Fort in the Solent has been bought prior to auction for more than £1 million.
Details of the new owner have not been disclosed.
The manmade island, built near Portsmouth Harbour to repel the French during the Napoleonic Wars, was sold through regional land and property auctioneers Clive Emson.
The property, which had a guide price of £700,000 to £800,000, was due to go under the hammer on Wednesday November 4 at the company’s latest auction at the Rose Bowl stadium near Southampton.
Rob Marchant (pictured), the Clive Emson auctioneer, says: “We received an exceptional offer a day and a half before our auction.
”The property caught the eye of the buyer, who had been reading one of our auction catalogues.
”The interest we had was enormous, with enquiries as far away as Hong Kong and the United States.
”It was a pity the fort didn’t go under the gavel, but the important thing is that it has been sold.
”It’s not every day you get to buy a manmade island with privacy, security and space, with 50 rooms steeped in military history and some of the finest panoramic views in the UK.”
Rob adds: “Apparently it would cost £130 million to build a similar sea fort today, so the new buyer has saved a fair few bob on a DIY build.”
The solid granite walls are 15ft thick at basement, with 35ft thick sea foundations placed by divers and a 8ft thick concrete roof.
Neale Brickwood, one of the owners who put the fort up for sale, says: “We’ve had a great four years owning Spitbank Fort and establishing it as the ultimate entertainment centre in the middle of the Solent, but when we received the offer for more than £1m we felt we had to take it.
“We feel it is an end of an era and would like to thank everyone who made the effort to come to Spitbank Fort and party with us.”
Spitbank Fort, dating back nearly 150 years, is open to the public from March to December and plays host to Sunday lunches, dance parties, weddings, day trips and a two-storey rental apartment.
The mixed-used development has a recent licence from the local authorities and fire service for up to 500 visitors, doubling previous numbers and with extended opening hours in the evening.
It has planning consent for both enhanced residential and commercial use.
There is permission to extend existing commercial activities, with the addition of a nightclub and casino, micro brewery, spring water bottling plant (from a 400ft well in the fort drawing upon spring water from under the seabed), recording studio and residential school.
Spitbank Fort reportedly cost nearly £120,000 to construct between 1861 and 1878 and was one of Palmerston’s ‘Follies’, a series of land and sea-based forts designed to repel French warships during the Napoleonic Wars but never pressed into action.