Fort Bovisand

Coordinates: 50°20′12″N 4°07′38″W / 50.33667°N 4.12722°W / 50.33667; -4.12722

Fort Bovisand is a fort in Devon, England near the beach of Bovisand. It was built on the mainland to defend the entrance of Plymouth Sound, at the narrows opposite the east end of Plymouth Breakwater. The fort is beside Bovisand harbour.


In 1816 a stone jetty and slip were built for boats from sailing warships anchored in Plymouth Sound to collect fresh water from the nearby reservoir. The first fort at the site, named Staddon Height Battery, was started in 1845, and still exists in the upper part of the present fort. As part of the recommendations of the Royal Commission on the Defence of the United Kingdom, work started on the main part of the fort consisting of 23 granite casemates, originally housing 22 9-inch Rifled Muzzle Loaders (RMLs), one 10-inch RML gun and 180 men. By 1880 the armament included 14 10-inch and nine 9-inch RML guns. Underground there are large deep tunnels to store artillery ammunition safe from enemy gunfire. In 1898 six 12-pounder quick-firing guns were installed.

In the early 1900s the original guns were removed. In 1942 the remaining four 12-pounders were replaced by two twin 6-pounders, to combat E-boats. A Bofors 40mm anti-aircraft gun was installed in 1943. In 1956 the Ministry of Defence abandoned the fort and a lease was granted in 1970.

Recent use

In the early 1970s the fort was converted into a national commercial diving school and scuba diving centre. The fort at the top of the headland (above the coastal path) was used as a school's outdoor activity centre from about the mid 1970s to at least the early 1990s. The upper fort's magazine and various other buildings were converted to be used as basic bunk houses, kitchen and dining area. The cottage was used as a toilet and shower block and a lounge and staff accommodation.

By 2000 the main leaseholder Fort Bovisand Underwater Centre had liquidated, but other diving services continued trading. Months of argument continued about the status of the leases and viability of existing businesses based there.

In December 2000 Marine Contractors Ltd (one of the main businesses based there, and one of the parties negotiating to take over the running of Fort Bovisand) went into receivership. As a result, the owners (the Ministry of Defence) decided it was no longer possible to keep the site functioning, and the remaining diving etc firms trading there ceased operations.

By mid-2005 ex-BBC boss Greg Dyke and local property developer John Steven owned Fort Bovisand and had plans to set up a new business there.

In mid 2008 Fort Bovisand was home to Discovery Divers, which was set up in 2003.

Building Activity

  • OpenBuildings
    OpenBuildings updated a digital reference
    about 5 years ago via Annotator
  • OpenBuildings
    OpenBuildings updated a digital reference and added a digital reference
    about 5 years ago via