Frequently Asked Questions

Created 05-01-2003    Last update 25-04-2014


Below is a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs)

together with the answers


Q1 Is there a World War II underground hospital under Portsdown? 
A1 No, but there are various reasons why this idea still exists all of which relate to the deep tunnel shelters.

1) There were two 2,500 person air-raid shelters constructed under Portsdown which had good first aid facilities.

2) During WWII the Cosham first-aid post was moved to the London Road Shelter for its own protection.

3) The mobile X-ray unit was moved from St Mary's Hospital to the shelter of the cliffs again at the London Road shelter.

4) Under direction of Central Government part of the tunnel shelters had to be set aside to receive D-Day battle causalities but they were never required. 

Q2 Is it true that secure bombproof accommodation for 80,000 (yes 80,000) Military personnel was provided under Portsdown?
A2 No. This would have required the construction of at least 15 miles of tunnel and could hardly have gone on unnoticed. The largest complex under Portsdown are the Fuel Bunkers at around 2 miles in length..

Q3 Were the Palmerston Forts on Portsdown connected to the HM Naval Base Portsmouth by a tunnel?
A3 This is a very popular idea among local people, however there is no such tunnel. The geology alone would rule this out.

Q4 Were the Palmerston Forts on Portsdown connected to each other by tunnels?
A4 There is no evidence to support this, and the general design idea of self contained mutually supporting Forts makes connecting tunnels un-necessary. However there is evidence of a connecting tunnel between Fort Purbrook and Crookhorn Redoubt, and possibly between Fort Purbrook and Farlington Redoubt.

Q5 Were any of the tunnels under Portsdown re-used during the Cold War?
A5 A portion of the UGHQ tunnels under Fort Southwick were used as a NATO teleprinter relay station and Naval COMMCEN, and the magazine under  the Victorian Fort Widley was converted to a Civil Defence Control Centre. And that's all. There were rumours of large underground experimental laboratories, deep bunkers for VIPs, and an underground barracks full of NBC clad troops.

Q6 Are there still operational and hence classified Military tunnels and bunkers under Portsdown?
A6 No. DERA is closed. Fort Southwick was de-commissioned and is now in private ownership. The Oil Fuel Reservoir is still owned by the MoD(N) but is non-operational. There are many conspiracy theories about what currently happens under Portsdown, but no evidence, or for that matter requirement.

Q7 Have you ever had any encounters with the MoD or civilian police or Government agencies regarding the content of your website, or whilst engaged in fieldwork on Portsdown?
A7 Never. I will not publish any material related to operational Government sites located on Portsdown without permission.

Q8 What is the total length of the tunnels under Portsdown?
A8 Excluding the Victorian tunnels within the Palmerston forts there are 5 miles of tunnelling. 

Q9 Is it possible to explore any of the tunnels mentioned on your website?
A9 The Victorian tunnels of Fort Nelson are open to the public. All the other major tunnel complexes are not accessible so please DON'T ask me to organise tours of them.

Q10 Are there any plans to open the Fuel Bunkers to the public?
A10 No there are not. Due to the adverse conditions it would cost a huge amount of money just to meet the Health and Safety requirements.  

Q11 I am writing a college project. Can you send me details of all the searchlight emplacements on Portsdown as well as all Pillboxes, trenches and Spigot Mortars. Also can you tell me the names of all the troops that provided defence on Portsdown during WWII.
A11 No!

Q12 Do you organise ghost hunts?
A12 No. But email me and I'll put you in touch with someone who does.