I worked for some years at the R.N. Oil Fuel Depot at Forton Rd. Gosport. During that time I made many visits to the
Portsdown storage reservoirs.
The main tunnel (south west entrance) as the plan
shows [see below], runs past the front of the reservoirs, and has a very slight incline, the drainage from the front of the reservoirs followed this incline to a pit in the SW compound which was emptied by tanker when full and taken to Gosport depot. When the tunnel passed the last (northernmost) reservoir it changed to a much steeper incline which made me puff to walk it, there was a solid door at the top
[northern portal] but this was never closed, instead there was an iron barred gate this allowed the tunnel to act as a very efficient ventilation system. The prevailing wind blew in at the south entrance, past the pump room and reservoir entrances sucking fumes out of them and taking them out at the north. The pump room floor is about 6/8 foot lower than the main tunnel floor.†
...the main pumps at the Gosport depot were capable of pumping to
Portsdown. The Bedenham pumps were installed as booster pumps and were not always used.†
...there is a lift shaft and a stairway
which runs down from the top compound, [so called valve
compound] these both open on to a
platform which leads via a 90% turn to a ramp which runs down to
the pump room, on the platform a door similar to a ship
bulkhead door had been let into the concrete wall, behind the door
was a room shaped like a small Nissan hut 15/20 foot long cut into
the chalk and lined with some sort of hard board under a
metal framework [This room was added during WWII and appears to
be some kind of telephone exchange]
The pipeline ran under Fareham creek from
Wicor playing fields area (Portchester) into Fleetlands Aircraft
Repair Yard, close to Fleetlands jetty. It then turned south to the
Bedenham booster pumps, from there it ran to the oil fuel depot
Forton rd. Gosport following the military railway line which ran through
Frater and Elson armament yards to Priddy's Hard. From there it ran under
Forton creek into the oil fuel depot, there were no tanks between portsdown and the oil fuel depot.
The main pumps, 2 for furnace fuel oil, 1 for diesel, were situated in the oil fuel depot,
incidentally the pumps ran on D.C. current which was the power system used in
Gosport when the depot was built. When the supply was changed to
A.C. in Gosport an A.C / D.C. converter was installed in Clarence yard to keep the pumps supplied with
The oil was pumped from the oil depot, under
Weevil lane, under Royal Clarence Yard to the oil jetty, which is now twice as long as it was originally built, it was then nearly always loaded into lighters which then delivered to ships in the dockyard.
When the M27 was built the pipelines were re-routed under the motorway in a tunnel.
Norman Beckett - July 2003