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London property developers charmed by crumbling Pembrokeshire fort

When the Evening Standard pounces on a historic Pembrokeshire building to feature on its property pages, readers know that they must be on to a good thing.

And this month, Big Smoke property investors have been tempted by one of Pembrokeshire’s most unique properties, namely the 160-year-old crumbling fortress at Fort Hubberston, near Milford Haven.

The property is currently being sold by West Wales Properties for £190,000. But this according to The Evening Standard, is less than half the price of a London flat which currently averages at around £449,782.

The Grade II listed 326,700 sq ft fortress was built in 1863 to defend the town against invasion.  During this time, the Milford Haven waterway was used by the Royal Navy dockyard to build warships so, consequently, was a high target from enemies.

During the Second World War, the fortress was used as a secret base for American soldiers preparing for the D-Day landings in 1944.  However once the war ended, the bluiding was abandoned.

In 2020, the fort was bought by Pembroke Dock businessman and former town councillor Guy Anderson with the intention of turning it into ‘a living ruin’.  Mr Anderson, who bought the building for £2,000, planned on opening the fortress to the public in stages.

However Hubberstone Fortress remains closed to the public and earlier this month was put back on the open market.

The D-shaped fort is made up of two main buildings divided by a patch of scrubland. The larger, curved building was once the accommodation block for 250 men, comprising guard rooms, soldier housing, washrooms, kitchens, a coal store and pub, all positioned around a parade ground with a raised centre.

The smaller, bottom building houses seven former gun rooms and magazine rooms where artillery would have been stored. Further rooms, which are currently inaccessible, include a submarine spotting station and sunken corridor, known as a caponier.

“The fort is steeped in history which is evident everywhere,” comments West Wales Properties.

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“You can see the gun tracks, the fireplaces, the wooden framework in the arched windows and even the decoration on the washroom walls.

“This fascinating building has so much to explore.”

The site covers almost three acres in total, enjoying a private shoreline and uninterrupted sea views.

But sadly, after decades of decline and vandalism, the fort is in a ruinous condition and requires significant investment.

Meanwhile Victorian fort expert  Phil Russell, who is chairman of the Palmerston Fort Society which aims to foster a wider interest in Victorian forts,  says that all efforts must be made to ensure that the building be salvaged and preserved.

“Buildings such as this can’t all become museums or be open to the public,” he said.

“What must happen with this one, a scheduled ancient monument, is that it has to be saved.

“We owe it to future generations to save these remarkable buildings and find a sustainable future for them.

“This might be as accommodation, or whatever other creative use a new owner can imagine.  But these once proud sentinels were built to last, so they deserve to do so.”

Fort Hubberstone is the largest of 16 Victorian forts and batteries that were built nearby. Since being deactivated, many have found new uses as holiday accommodation, activity centres and museums.

Chapel Bay Fort, on the southern shore of the Milford Haven Waterway, was turned into a museum in 1995, while Dale Fort, west of Milford Haven, has been a field centre since 1948. The 20-sided Pembroke Defensible Barracks was listed for sale for £500,000 last year, and remains on the market.